Books to Watch | July 28, 2020
July 28, 2020
Each and every week, our marketing team—Marketing Director Blyth Meier (BRM), Digital Marketing Specialist Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), and Editorial Director Dylan Schleicher (DJJS)—highlights five new books we are most excited about.
This week, our choices are:
Blue-Collar Cash: Love Your Work, Secure Your Future, and Find Happiness for Life by Ken Rusk, Dey Street
Attending an institution of higher education is going to look much different this fall than it has in the past. It has caused a lot of students (and parents) to question what, exactly, they are paying for. It is, like a lot of other issues brought into sharper relief at this moment, an overdue consideration. Society has long pushed a college education as the only way to succeed, that to not attend one has come to be seen by many as a failure. Ken Rusk offers another way in his new book, Blue-Collar Cash. He reminds us that the conventional college path is not for everyone, and that taking a different one is not giving up on a good life. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan. Ken Rusk provides a different one in his new book, Blue-Collar Cash, showing how taking up a vocation, and having a blue-collar career, can be both personally rewarding and financially lucrative. As he writes:
I want you to know that success doesn’t require a framed piece of paper, wearing a suit, or toiling all day in some cubicle … There is more than one path to success, and ultimately the freedom that comes with a well-planned and dedicated life. I wish everyone would stop sweating it … The idea that you have to dig yourself into a hole financially in order to grow and flourish in a career is a scam.
Rusk does know something about digging holes, though, or at least ditches. Known as the “million-dollar ditch digger,” he has built a successful business and mentored many others in doing the same. This new book extends those lessons to you, and is centered around building a life based on three principles: comfort, peace, and financial freedom. Yes, there is dignity and honor in working with your hands, and even a decent amount of money. The idea that one must attend college can be a psychological burden, and most people must take on a significant financial burden to do so. If you’re looking for something different, check out Blue-Collar Cash. (DJJS)
Break 'Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money by Zephyr Teachout, All Points Books
We are often told that we have power as consumers to change things. Zephyr Teachout suggests we embrace our power as citizens instead. Countering the popular advice that one must “Vote with your feet” and “Vote with your wallet,” Teachout suggests our embrace of “ethical consumerism is frankly dangerous.” Not only is it still consumerism, but the solution to corporate behavior we find unacceptable should not be shaming them, but ending it through legislation. If a social media platform allows politicians to lie in political ads to get elected, and allows forgeign interference in our elections, the answer should not be that we need to boycott the platform. The answer needs to be that laws are passed to prevent it from happening. It also needs to be that companies are broken up, so that they don’t have that much power in the first place. We are currently moving in the opposite direction:
In the last eleven years we have allowed over 500,000 mergers worldwide; mergers in the last five years were valued at an annual average of $4 trillion.
This has been allowed to occur in the name of increased efficiency, but as we’ve seen during this pandemic—for instance, in having only three big ag companies control meat processing—this concentration of power has actually led to increased fragility. It is also undermining our democracy, and if allowed to persist, will lead to a fundamentally different kind of government: tyranny. Yet, Zephyr believes, that:
With a major, grassroots anti-monopoly movement, we can radically reshape our economy and democracy in the service of human needs.
And, in many places and many ways across the globe, that movement has begun. Pick up Zephyr’s book and join it. (DJJS)
Majo Molfino is on a mission to debunk myths around feminism while also urging the world to speak up for ourselves and each other. She targets women in Break the Good Girl Myth as well as on her podcast HEROINE, but that only barely narrows her audience. The oppression of women and girls is far-reaching, both across the world and back in time.
Each and every one of us oppresses and is oppressed. It's good to own both sides because then we can see the ways we are deeply hurt [by the patriarchy, obviously] and the ways we unconsciously hurt others by having more privilege and power.
In this way, much of the work that Molfino advises we do begins internally. Break the Good Girl Myth is a very accessible and sensible guide that uses five mind-sets ("Seek deeper understanding," "Open your mind," "Make something," "Engage someone," and "Set yourself up for success") to "set ourselves and our surroundings up to dismantle these myths and create a whole new system that gives us agency and power."
Molfino provides experiences and realizations from her own ongoing good girl recovery that emphasize the importance of always learning and always improving, accepting advice while giving advice. I, personally, really identified with Molfino's story of being an introverted overachiever, and getting to know her story and her ongoing work made me feel more accountable to practice the very practical things she was asking of me. And if you can't relate to Molfino's personal journey, she also incorporates plenty of research, case studies, and examples from her clients that make it possible for a variety of women to see themselves reflected in each section of the book. For such a heavy topic, Molfino is an approachable leader who makes the reading feel easy with advice that we can all welcome into our lives little by little. (GMC)
Living Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes to Activate Your Power and Feed Your Potential by Haile Thomas, William Morrow
Month four of lockdown, and I think I’m finally ready to swap nachos for vegetables, but do I even remember how to cook something bordering on nutritious? I’m not sure, but thankfully I have Haile Thomas’s Living Lively on hand, which makes my journey back towards a healthier version of myself feel like riding my bike in sunshine. This 19-year old motivational speaker and vegan activist started her life’s dedication to wellness ten years ago when her dad was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Through a love-fueled collective effort, her family rallied together to change their eating habits and successfully reversed his condition. Ever since, she has challenged herself with new adventures, starting with a YouTube cooking channel at age 9 with her younger sister (“Kids Can Cook”), followed by founding a non-profit for youth empowerment at age 12 (HAPPY), and a cooking blog. If that’s not enough, Thomas is now adding ‘author’ to her long list of accomplishments. Her first book is a self-care guide for teens and really anyone looking for some positivity in their daily cooking routine.
The first half of the book outlines Thomas’s “7 Points of Power” and interviews fellow youth activists (including Maya Penn, whose book You Got This landed on our business book awards longlist in 2016). But what I’m most grateful for here are the recipes in part two (a.k.a. “Let’s Get Cookin’, Good Lookin’!”). Her recipes are vegan, gluten-free, easy to make, and most importantly, packed with flavor. As the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, the Caribbean influence on her delicious recipes sets them apart from most vegan cookbooks. Fill up your meal plan with Fruity Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge, Chickpea-power Pancakes, My Mama’s Jamaican Rice and Peas with Curry Mushrooms, Islander Lively Bowl, Sweet Pea and Corn Risotto, and save room for Nutty Cherry-Coconut Soft Serve for dessert! To all of my mom friends who have asked me to recommend a cookbook when one of their kids became a vegan: this is it. No one in your family will feel they are missing out on anything. (BRM)
Summer Kitchens: Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine by Olia Hercules, Welden Owen
My dad grew up on a small farm in the Northeastern corner of North Dakota, where his family grew grain crops. Every day during harvest, my Grandma Mae would make three meals from scratch (including dessert) for my Grandpa Louis, his brothers Frank and Cecil, and a threshing crew of ten. On top of this, she also made sandwiches that she brought to them out in the field to make it through their 12+ hour days. That’s a lot of cooking every day—too much for a regular kitchen. So she cooked out in what was called the “summer kitchen,” a room off the back of the house with better ventilation, a second stove, and more space to spread out her work. Growing up in a city, I didn’t know of anyone else with a room like this. Turns out, in Ukraine, nearly everyone had a summer kitchen growing up. I’m so grateful to Olia Hercules for her new book, Summer Kitchens, which brought up so many memories of my grandma and her home, both of which are now gone. Born in Southern Ukraine, Hercules spent her later childhood in Cyprus, and is now based in London. Her third book celebrates these magical “cooking workshop” spaces and how “summer kitchens encourage a very intimate, almost spiritual connection to everything living around you.” As you can imagine in a book about summer kitchens, fermenting, pickling, and preserving play a central role. From Sauerkraut with whole cabbage leaves to Fermented tomato pulp to Walnut tincture, she presents an approach to cooking that extends the life of every part of the ingredients used. Lucky for us vegetarian-leaning cooks, Hercules’s husband is among us, so she does a great job of highlighting vegetable-forward dishes in the traditionally meat-heavy Ukrainian cuisine: Tomato and mulberry salad, Mushroom broth with sour pickles, and Potato cakes stuffed with bean and feta paste are sure to make it on my kitchen table yet this summer. The photography in the book conjures up a sun-soaked late August day, when the heat is unrelenting, the shadows are strong, and the haze drops a veil over the landscape. It is when the weather is most oppressive that the garden’s bounty is ready for gathering and preserving, and when I most miss my grandma and her breezy summer kitchen. (BRM)
What we're reading away from work:
"I am reading Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis; it is a lovely Bildungsroman set in La Roma district in late 1980s Mexico City. I must admit I was originally interested in this because I very much enjoyed The Child Poet, written by the author's father, Homero Aridjis and translated to English by Chloe Aridjis. (If not for that connection, the jacket design and synopsis would have had no trouble capturing my attention). Sea Monsters feels buoyant and quick, but there feels also to be a pall just below the surface." —Michael Jantz, Custom Projects Director