by W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903
There is a certain sense of wonder – or is it chagrin? – when reading a hundred-year-old book that exemplifies the adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Such is the case with W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, a collection of essays published at the turn of the 20th century that are, sadly, as poignant today as they were a mere 40 years post-Emancipation. Race relations have no doubt improved greatly since then, yet not so much as to prevent the reader from sitting slack-jawed and wondering if Du Bois were writing these words today. He and his ideas are far from obsolete.
by Carter G. Woodson, 1933
Carter G. Woodson is one of those names I’ve heard bandied about for quite some time, thanks largely in part to the fact that one of the three huge regional libraries in Chicago is named for the writer. As such, I’ve always had him in my mind as someone I ought to read, but, as is often the case, I never got around to it. With the Read Harder Challenge’s task to read a book published between 1900-1950, this 1933 tome jumped to the forefront. It’s a fairly short book, coming in at around 100 pages, but it’s packed with some interesting ideas regarding education and race that not only were applicable to its time, but continue to be relevant today.
by Ramit Sethi, 2017
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not easily convinced to pay for services online. I may read all of a site’s free information, but when it comes to plunking down a hefty sum, I clock out. Such has been the case with Ramit Sethi’s business products, about which I’ve been reading as they make their way to my inbox. Sethi talks a big game on his website and has copious testimonials to backup his claims and, hey, it might all be true, but I just can’t be convinced to fork over hundreds of dollars on simple faith. However, when Sethi’s latest ebook was released for the low price of $.99, I figured, Why not? I wanted to know more and for once the price was right.
by Chris Guillebeau, 2012
It’s been something of a goal of mine to start my own business. While I’m typically wary of books that promise to show you how easy and affordable it is and all you need is a can-do spirit and a little web know-how, The $100 Startup was featured in an ebook sale for $1.99 and I figured, why not? I know Chris Guillebeau has been touted as one of those serial entrepreneurs who flies all around the world, having created businesses that support his lifestyle, and I read a few of the websites that have spoken highly of him in the past. I wish I could say this book surpassed my expectations of being a glossed over DIY manual for would-be self-employed business owners, but it didn’t. It was really what I was expecting it to be, which is to say, containing not much that I didn’t already know.
by Rebecca Solnit, 2014
Ah, mansplaining. Who among us hasn’t suffered to listen to a man tell us what we already know? In my case, it’s most often come from those telling me how to run my business when they have no knowledge of said business and no idea why I’ve made some of the very valid decisions I’ve made (like, what you are insisting I do is, in fact, illegal in this state). Mansplaining is not new, but the term gained quite the life after the publication of the essay that bears the same name as this book. What starts as a humorous anecdote of Solnit being schooled on a book that she wrote turns into a much needed examination of women’s silencing. And before you’re quick to jump to the defense, Solnit readily admits that [hashtag] not all men are like this. I know not all men are like this too, but I’ll be damned if not all women have been affected by some of the behavior she discusses in this essay collection.
by Richard Beeman, ed., 2012
You may wonder why I’m reading this. How can you not know the D of I and the Constitution? you might ask. Sure, I took AP Government like any good high schooler and I’m bound to have studied these documents then, but that was nearly 20 years ago and I’ll be damned if I remember anything other than who my teacher was and who I used to pass notes to. As Richard Beeman notes in his introduction to this first book in the lovely Penguin Civics Classics series, “There is…[a] large body of evidence suggesting that Americans’ knowledge of their history and of the way in which their institutions have worked over the course of history is embarrassingly meager.” And, really, I’m just trying not to be one of those Americans. I had a conversation with a friend recently where I relayed an ignorant comment I’d heard in regards to The Underground Railroad. The reviewer in question erroneously believed the literal railroad, as depicted in the book, to be true and I wondered how someone could lack that basic understanding of American history. “The question is,” my friend said, “how responsible are we, as people of color, to seek out and educate the ignorant?”
“Is it our responsibility to educate? Or is it their responsibility to seek education?” I countered. “After high school, is not the onus on the individual to educate themselves?”
by Laura Jones & Heather McDaid, eds., 2017
Leave it to Book Riot to not only force me to read outside of my typical bounds, but also to lead me right to the perfect books at the perfect times. When I read their article extolling British indie publisher 404 Ink‘s Nasty Women: A Collection of Essays & Accounts on What It Is Like to Be a Woman in the 21st Century, I jumped at the chance to use it to fulfill the “read a book published by a micropress” challenge task. While the book went immediately out of print on the day of its release – International Women’s Day – I was pleased to receive notice the very next day that the ebook was available for immediate download. Download I did and not only am I glad to have crossed off this difficult task, I’m happy to have done it while also providing support to the authors speaking on these very necessary subjects.