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Books to Watch | October 18, 2022

October 18, 2022

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Looking for your next great read? We're here to help! Each week, our marketing team—Dylan Schleicher (DJJS), Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), Emily Porter (EPP), and Jasmine Gonzalez (JAG)—highlights four newly released books we are most excited about. 

Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.

This week, our choices are:

Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem by April Ryan, Amistad (JAG) 

“I am keenly aware that everyone and everything has a story,” April D. Ryan acknowledges. “Also, I have always marveled at Black women and how we work to move mountains and are never really thanked or recognized.” In Black Women Will Save the World, she melds these two truths, creating an inspiring and heart-tugging portrait of one of the momentous years in America, 2020—when America elected its first Black woman Vice President—and celebrates the tenacity, power, and impact of Black women across America. 

From the beginning of the nation to today, Black women have transformed their pain into progress and have been at the frontlines of the nation’s political, social, and economic struggles. These “Sheroes” as Ryan calls them, include current political leaders such as Maxine Waters, Valerie Jarrett, and Kamala Harris; Brittany Packnett Cunningham, LaTosha Brown, and other activists; and artists like Regina King. Combining profiles and in-depth interviews with these influential movers and shakers and many more, Ryan explores the challenges Black women endure, and how the lessons they’ve learned can help us shape our own stories. Ryan also chronicles her personal journey from working-class Baltimore to the elite echelons of journalism and speaks out about the hurdles she faced in becoming one of the most well-connected members of the Washington press corps—while raising two daughters as a single mother in the aftermath of a messy divorce. 

It is time for everyone to acknowledge Black women’s unrivaled contributions to America. Yet our democracy remains in peril, and their work is far from done. Black Women Will Save the World presents a vital kaleidoscopic look at women of different ages and from diverse backgrounds who devote their lives to making the world a better place—even if that means stepping out of their “place.” 

 

Homecoming: The Path to Prosperity in a Post-Global World by Rana Foroohar, Crown (DJJS) 

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Thomas Friedman, in The World Is Flat, declared globalization the new economic order. But the reign of globalization as we’ve known it is over, argues Financial Times columnist and CNN analyst Rana Foroohar, and the rise of local, regional, and homegrown business is now at hand. 
 
With bare supermarket shelves and the shortage of PPE supplies, the pandemic brought the fragility of global trade and supply chains into stark relief. The tragic war in Ukraine and the political and economic chaos that followed have further underlined the vulnerabilities of globalization. The world, it turns out, isn’t flat—in fact, it’s quite bumpy. 
 
This fragmentation has been coming for decades, observes Foroohar. Our neoliberal economic philosophy of prioritizing efficiency over resilience and profits over local prosperity has produced massive inequality, persistent economic insecurity, and distrust in our institutions. This philosophy, which underpinned the last half century of globalization, has run its course. Place-based economics and a wave of technological innovations now make it possible to keep operations, investment, and wealth closer to home, wherever that may be. 
 
With the pendulum of history swinging back, Homecoming explores both the challenges and the possibilities of this new era, and how it can usher in a more equitable and prosperous future. 

 

Kuni: A Japanese Vision and Practice for Urban-Rural Reconnection by Tsuyoshi Sekihara and Richard McCarthy, North Atlantic Books (EPP)  

“Kuni” is both a reimagining of the Japanese word for nation and an approach to reviving communities. It shows what happens when dedicated people band together and invest their hearts, minds, and souls back into a community, modeling a new way of living that actually works. A kuni can be created anywhere--even a hamlet on the verge of extinction--and embodies 7 key principles:

  • Everyone is equal in a kuni 
  • Kuni is equipped with a Regional Management Organization--a democratic organization that takes care of small public services 
  • Kuni is a link between residents and repeat visitors 
  • Life in a kuni is circular--consumption and production are in balance 
  • Kuni embraces the whole person 
  • Kuni can be a place for young people who seek interconnectedness 
  • The time for kuni is now 

Kuni offers a compelling vision of regenerative relationships that can take root in the United States--and anywhere. With spare and beautiful prose and useful principles for reviving rural places, this book addresses our longing for a hopeful revolution of everyday life. 

 

Saving Main Street: Small Business in the Time of COVID-19 by Gary Rivlin, Harper Business (GMC)  

There is a tendency to fetishize small business even as it shrinks before our eyes. Americans extol the virtues of small, local, often family-run shops, yet buy from big-box retailers and chains that dominate the competition. Even before the pandemic, small businesses seemed endangered. When Covid-19 hit, the resounding question was: How will they be able to survive this? 

Saving Main Street is an unfiltered, up-close examination of a small group of business owners and their employees, their struggles, and their strategies to survive. It is an eye-opening tale of grit, perseverance, and entrepreneurial spirit that follows three businesses: a restaurant owner and his rambunctious staff, an immigrant running her own hair salon, and the owner of a “non-life sustaining” gift shop—alongside a larger cast of vividly drawn characters.  

Gary Rivlin focuses on the first days of the Covid lockdown and the ensuing eighteen months of chaos, including the personal and financial risks, a contentious presidential election, and contradictory governmental guidelines—all which compounded the everyday challenges of running an independent business trying to attract and retain customers who expect low prices, convenience, and endless choice. Rivlin keenly observes small businesses from all angles, examining commonly held “myths”; contradictions in government policy; enormous racial and class fissures; a national self-identity intrinsically connected to the ideal of small business, and how the decline of this American way of retail impacts our notions of American exceptionalism, community, and civic duty. 

As Rivlin reveals, there’s something enduring about small business in the American psyche. Life will have changed in unprecedented ways on the other side of this pandemic, yet hard times will also create opportunities, offering hope and survival. 

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