The LWV Charleston Area book club began in 2019, open to members and the public to discuss books on a variety of topics of interest to our members and of importance to our communities. We invite you to join us for conversations on topics ranging from climate change to gender and racial equity.
What we're reading now
The Mayor: Joe Riley and the Rise of Charleston by Brian Hicks
From Evening Post Books:
In his 40 years as Mayor of Charleston, Joe Riley has led the historic port city through its greatest period of growth, economic development and unity. His authorized biography, The Mayor: Joe Riley and the Rise of Charleston, is the inside story of his life and how he built—and forever transformed—one of the nation’s oldest cities.
The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism Saves the Environment and Ourselves by J.B. MacKinnon
The planet says we consume too much: in North America, we burn the earth's resources at a rate five times faster than they can regenerate. And despite our efforts to "green" our consumption--by recycling, increasing energy efficiency, or using solar power--we have yet to see a decline in global carbon emissions.
The economy says we must always consume more, because even the slightest drop in spending leads to widespread unemployment, bankruptcy and home foreclosures.
Addressing this paradox head-on, J.B. MacKinnon asks, What would really happen if we simply stop shopping? Is there a way to reduce our consumption to earth-saving levels without triggering an economic collapse?"
My Vanishing Country: A Memoir by Bakari Sellers
Anchored in in Bakari Seller’s hometown of Denmark, South Carolina, Country illuminates the pride and pain that continues to fertilize the soil of one of the poorest states in the nation. He traces his father’s rise to become, friend of Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King, a civil rights hero, and member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) , to explore the plight of the South's dwindling rural, black working class—many of whom can trace their ancestry back for seven generations.
In his poetic personal history, we are awakened to the crisis affecting the other “Forgotten Men & Women,” who the media seldom acknowledges. For Sellers, these are his family members, neighbors, and friends. He humanizes the struggles that shape their lives: to gain access to healthcare as rural hospitals disappear; to make ends meet as the factories they have relied on shut down and move overseas; to hold on to precious traditions as their towns erode; to forge a path forward without succumbing to despair.
My Vanishing Country is also a love letter to fatherhood—to Sellers' father, his lodestar, whose life lessons have shaped him, and to his newborn twins, who he hopes will embrace the Sellers family name and honor its legacy.
From Simon & Schuster:
From W. W. Norton: "Despite her famous pseudonym, “Jane Roe,” no one knows the truth about Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1969 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent hundreds of hours with Norma, discovered her personal papers—a previously unseen trove—and witnessed her final moments. The Family Roe presents her life in full. Propelled by the crosscurrents of sex and religion, gender and class, it is a life that tells the story of abortion in America.
Prager begins that story on the banks of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River where Norma was born, and where unplanned pregnancies upended generations of her forebears. A pregnancy then upended Norma’s life too, and the Dallas waitress became Jane Roe.
Drawing on a decade of research, Prager reveals the woman behind the pseudonym, writing in novelistic detail of her unknown life from her time as a sex worker in Dallas, to her private thoughts on family and abortion, to her dealings with feminist and Christian leaders, to the three daughters she placed for adoption.
"From Harper Collins: "An inspiring and urgent memoir by the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine—a pioneering diplomat who spent her career advancing democracy in the post-Soviet world, and who electrified the nation by speaking truth to power during the first impeachment of President Trump."
“A brilliant, engaging, and inspiring memoir from one of America’s wisest and most courageous diplomats—essential reading for current policymakers, aspiring public servants, and anyone who cares about America’s role in the world.”—Madeleine K. Albright "
Wounding Warriors: How Bad Policy is Making Veterans Sicker and Poorer by Lt. Col. Daniel Gade, PhD and Daniel Huang
"In this bombshell of a book, former US Army Lieutenant Colonel and candidate for US Senate Daniel Gade and Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Huang lay out the human tragedy that bad policy creates in the lives of veterans. [They] interviewed dozens of veterans and VA staffers who have observed firsthand the effects of a broken system. The authors also combed through years of literature and compiled a wealth of data demonstrating beyond all doubt that our system of caring for veterans, post-military, is broken. This is not just a policy book — it is an engrossing deep dive into the VA's perverse incentives that, instead of making life better for our veterans, leave them worse off." - Ballast Books
From Harvard University Press: "In the first comprehensive accounting of the U.S. Supreme Court’s race-related jurisprudence, a distinguished historian and renowned civil rights lawyer scrutinize a legacy too often blighted by racial injustice. The Supreme Court is usually seen as protector of our liberties: it ended segregation, was a guarantor of fair trials, and safeguarded free speech and the vote. But this narrative derives mostly from a short period, from the 1930s to the early 1970s. Before then, the Court spent a century largely ignoring or suppressing basic rights, while the fifty years since 1970 have witnessed a mostly accelerating retreat from racial justice."
The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the United Nations
NYT Book Review by Thomas Friedman: "This is a wonderful book. It’s an unusual combination of autobiography, diplomatic history, moral argument and manual on how to breast-feed a child with one hand while talking to Secretary of State John Kerry on a cellphone with the other. The interweaving of Power’s personal story, family story, diplomatic history and moral arguments is executed seamlessly — and with unblinking honesty."
From Simon and Schuster: "The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies...
Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what [The Double Helix's] author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions."
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert's latest book illuminates efforts to rectify the damage we have inflicted on the earth. From Penguin Random House: "In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. Along the way, she meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world’s rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a “super coral” that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth."
From Penguin Random House: "Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy—and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?"
From Macmillan Publishers: "Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit it from the moment the act was signed into law. The VRA is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement, and yet—more than fifty years later—the battles over race, representation, and political power continue, as lawmakers devise new strategies to keep minorities out of the voting booth, while the Supreme Court has declared a key part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional."
This book was chosen as part of our Good Governance Symposium Series.