Five books to crack your brain open to new perspectives
Jan 23, 2019
In a time when social media consumes so much of our eyeballs, we’re here to suggest some good old-fashioned ways to get informed and to experience new perspectives on togetherness and ending inequality.
Here are five books that are sure to crack your brain open to new perspectives. Flip that page!
Always Another Country, Sisonke Msimang
Sisonke Msimang’s novel shares her raw experiences with class, gender, and race in different countries around the world. Growing up in Zambia, Kenya, Canada and Ethiopia, we walk with her through her journey to belonging. Her short stint in Ottawa, where she is exposed to racist taunts and a less-than-apologetic school principal, is followed by one of the most enlightening experiences in the book where the bicycle she saved up for in Canada is stolen by a young boy in a poor Kenyan neighbourhood. We follow her through the social activism and ideals learned from her parents and close extended family from South Africa, through her own journey to advocacy and change in university in America and back to Africa again.
The Boat People, Sharon Bala
Sharon Bala’s fictionalized account of Tamil refugees fleeing conflict and seeking refuge in Canada is a story of love, survival and moral complexity. We meet Mahindan, a father desperately trying to seek a new life for his son in Canada, and follow him through his life in Sri Lanka, the growing crisis there, his escape to Canada, and the process that sees him thrown in jail and characterized as a terrorist. As you live through each of Mahindan’s experiences and it becomes terrifyingly unclear who and what is in the right, we identify with his heartbreaking aspiration to simply provide a better life for his family.
Emergent Strategy, Adrienne Maree Brown
For those really wishing to push the boundaries of ideas and activism, take a read through Emergent Strategy. Free from the structures of a rote how-to manual, brown takes you through a non-linear and poetic approach that suggests collaboration, as evidenced by flocks of birds and forests of Interwined Oaks, is the best and only true way to create change. For those searching for inspiration in all shapes and forms (brown references notes and lessons learned thanks to everyone from Drake to Octavia Butler), this is a good read.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari
Harari is no stranger to challenging us to think about the very nature of humankind. While earlier books looked backwards and into the future, 21 Lessons considers where we are right now. The book takes us through what most of us are discussing as the most bewildering issues facing us right now: religion, climate change, technology and challenges us to think and act more critically. “If the future of humanity is decided in your absence because you are too busy feeding and clothing your kids” says the author’s web site, “…you and they will not be exempt from the consequences.”
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
You know when Oprah signs onto something, it’s bound to be a big deal. Skloot explores issues of race and class in science while sharing the nearly unbelievable story of a young tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her consent for medical research. Though scientists referred to Henrietta only as HeLa, Henrietta’s family copes with the reality of the inequality she faced as well as her ongoing legacy.