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Affluenza
John de Graaf, David Wann
Part self-help guide and part social commentary, this witty expose takes a hard look at America’s obsession with consumerism, how it’s ruining our lives, and how we can eradicate this toxic behavior in ourselves. You know those people who always have to have the latest model of everything? Whether it’s the newest iPhone, the hottest TV on the market, or the latest trend in this season’s fashions, it seems like they’re always trading what they have for something newer with the assumption that “new” automatically implies “better.” Theorizing that as the world’s ability to mass produce goods has increased, our obsession with consumerism has risen in response, Affluenza explores this trend in detail by analyzing American life and overconsumption in the post-Industrial age. Employing the term “affluenza” to define our current state of obsession with materialism and the pursuit of wealth, de Graaf and Wann demonstrate how this form of cultural extremism is detrimental not only to our wallets, but to our hearts, relationships, and minds.
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18 minutes
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Bad Feminist
Roxane Gay
Discover Why Being a Bad Feminist is Better Than Not Being a Feminist At All. When you hear the word feminism, what do you think of? In today’s climate, you likely think about the many women’s marches and the #MeToo movement that have taken over the media. All of these fight for the rights of women in every area of life, including equal pay, reproductive rights, and more. But according to Roxane Gay, feminism is flawed. There is no right or wrong way to be a feminist, which is why Gay proudly labels herself as a bad feminist. As a bad feminist, Gay recognizes that humans are flawed, and therefore, their views and opinions don’t always fit perfectly into a neatly wrapped package. For instance, while Gay enjoys going against the grain, her favorite color is still pink and she enjoys reading Vogue, both of which are typical female stereotypes. At the end of the day, feminism looks different for everyone but being a bad feminist is better than not being a feminist at all! As you read, you’ll learn how reality television is harmful to the fight for equality, how racial profiling can end in murder, and how movies like The Help only advance racial stereotypes.
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23 minutes
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Braving the Wilderness
Brené Brown
Learn what it means to truly belong. Have you ever felt like the odd one out? Have you ever felt as though you don’t truly belong? Renowned researcher and TED Talk host Brené Brown knows exactly how that feels. But as she affirms in her powerful TED Talk, courage is contagious. Braving The Wilderness (2017) is Brown’s attempt at attacking the stereotypes that ensnare us and inviting readers to break free of their fear and loneliness.
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14 minutes
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How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World
Francis Wheen
Learn about the short history of modern delusions. In today’s era, we have experienced an epidemic of mumbo-jumbo as we see a rise in cults, gurus, irrational panics, and moral confusion. According to Francis Wheen, this mumbo-jumbo has conquered the world and created a society full of superstition, relativism, and emotional hysteria. We see this in Middle Eastern fundamentalism, the rise of lotteries, astrology and mysticism, poststructuralism and the Third Way. In the Western societies of today, people have become disillusioned with mainstream politics and inundated with “self-improvement” books which have now become an $11 billion industry. The country that has become the most displaced by nonsense is the one founded to embody Enlightenment values: the USA. How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World aims to reveal how far the absurdity of our times has come and examines how many aspects of our lives are influenced by superstition and irrationality versus reason. As you read, you’ll learn about the rise of neoliberalism and how its policies created today’s income inequality and why self-help books rose in popularity in response to these policies. You’ll even learn about post-structuralism and progressive politics and discover why you should be skeptical of the language and rhetoric they use.
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20 minutes
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How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
A guide in recognizing the racism that exists in today’s society and learning how to adopt an equality mindset and ultimately become an antiracist. Throughout his book, Ibram Kendi explores the many types of racism that exist today. From racist policies implemented by government officials to internalized racism that exists within the Black community, Ibram discusses how to recognize racism while also teaching you how to adopt an antiracist mindset, and ultimately become an antiracist. With the election of Donald Trump, Ibram believes that racism is prevalent now more than ever. He argues that racism in politics has created an inequality among races that could be so far engrained in society that efforts to see a reversal of these policies and ideas might be futile. Racism, like cancer, has spread through society, infiltrating both politics and the minds of society. Our minds have been taught to ignore racism, to remember that racism ended with the civil rights activists in the past century. However, Ibram proves that racism still exists today and is seen in a myriad of ways. While he originally believed that the racism of our country was doomed, he now has hope. He sees America as being in a dark place, but he sees the light, he sees how society can overcome adversity and end racism...together.
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24 minutes
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I’m Judging You
Luvvie Ajayi
I’m Judging You (2016) is author Luvvie Ajayi’s humorous perspective on all of society’s worst foibles. Covering everything from breaking the unwritten rules of social media to sexism and racism in their most repugnant forms, Luvvie Ajayi is judging it all and she wants readers to know. By calling out these mistakes through a combination of wit and criticism, Ajayi offers some humorous and helpful tips for improving your reputation in society.
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17 minutes
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Lying
Sam Harris
Learn why lying is so pervasive in our society and what we can do to stop it. People lie all the time. We lie to each other. We lie to ourselves. We tell white lies, fibs, and whoppers. And sometimes, we lie so much that we completely lose sight of the truth. Lying (2011) is a critical analysis of humanity’s deceptions. Examining lies on both the macro and microscopic levels, Sam Harris’ investigation considers the prevalence of untruths in our society and why they have to stop.
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14 minutes
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Quiet
Susan Cain
A revolutionary book detailing how society vastly underestimates introverts and teaches us what introverts and extroverts can learn from one another. Do you thrive in social situations or do you retreat to the quietness of your home? If you’re the former, then you’re likely extroverted and, lucky for you, are praised by western society. For centuries, extroverts have been seen as the ideal personality. They are social butterflies, they are bold, and they make great leaders. Institutions like Harvard praise extroverts and even presume extroversion to be the supreme standard for success. But why is this? Introverts are typically seen as awkward and shy, but that’s not the case. Instead, introverts simply thrive in a different kind of environment. Introverts value serious conversation over small talk and are more likely to contemplate big decisions, and for these reasons, introverts can be just as successful as extroverts in a world where we can’t stop talking. In fact, people like Dr. Seuss, Rosa Parks, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates are all people who contributed greatly to society despite having introverted personalities. As Susan Cain presents throughout Quiet, introverts and extroverts can learn from one another and can have the power to change how the world views the misunderstood, but influential introvert.
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24 minutes
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She Said
Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey
Discover the story of how two investigative journalists uncovered and exposed the Hollywood secret that inspired the #MeToo movement. For many years, rumors had been circulating about Harvey Weinstein’s mistreatment of women throughout his reign of Hollywood success. Few were aware of the Hollywood secrets surrounding a dark pattern of sexual harassment and exploitation. This was due to Weinstein’s immense power and influence across the industry and his many successful attempts at silencing his victims. It wasn’t until Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey joined forces to begin their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer. Throughout months of interviews with Weinstein’s top actresses, former employees, and other sources, the journalists uncovered many disturbing allegations that revealed decades of abuse, secret payouts, and coercion into signing non-disclosure agreements. Despite the obstacles, Kantor and Twohey aimed to expose Weinstein’s past through any means necessary. In She Said, you’ll learn how two journalists transformed allegations of abuse into a worldwide movement that seeks to give women a voice against sexual misconduct and hold perpetrators of abuse accountable for their actions.
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23 minutes
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Smile or Die
Barbara Ehrenreich
Smile or Die (2009) explores the dark side of our cultural obsession with positive thinking. Although positive thinking is widely considered to be a good and helpful thing, Barbara Ehrenreich wants readers to be aware that being positive about everything all the time is not only unrealistic, it’s actively harmful. By exploring the impact of toxic positivity, Ehrenreich contemplates the mass delusion of the “power of positive thinking” movement and encourages her audience to take precautions for their health.
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15 minutes
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