It’s an incredibly engaging mix of memoir, American history, politics, and philosophy, and I couldn’t put it down!
The biggest takeaway for me was the idea that the work of anti-racism isn’t in gestures that make you feel better about yourself and your community, but that don’t effect change—the real work of anti-racism is in actively taking steps to eliminate racist policies.
His argument got me thinking more deeply about the spheres where I have influence, and one of them is at the university. So, my next book purchase was The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities (Henry, Dua, James, Kobayashi, Li, Ramos, and Smith) and I am excited to dig in!
Recommended by Todd Mundle, University Librarian
Dr. Bonnie Henry takes Dr. William Osler’s hundred-year-old mantra, “soap and water and common sense are the best disinfectants”, and parlays it into an eminently readable text on some nasty characters. She takes the reader through the building housing Microbes, Inc. exploring each of the divisions: viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.
If you’ve enjoyed her approach to her daily briefings you’ll find a friendly voice in this book. Her easy writing style outlines and makes sense of some very complex organisms and how they impact humans. Although originally released in 2009 and it discusses various pandemics up to then at time, it could just as easily have been written today. The info is still relevant, the prevention steps are still valid, and it reinforces the idea that pandemics will continue to tax humans. As individuals if we follow her three simple rules and add in, listen to the science, we’ll be better for it.
The book makes clear that the microbe hunting world is a dangerous one and the variability and adaptability of the foe is much more than any one person can take on. Through every chapter she reiterates over and over that to help combat these foes there are three simple rules to live by: wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, and stay at home when you have a fever.
In Gladwell’s own words, “Talking to Strangers is an attempt to understand what really happened by the side of the highway that day in rural Texas.” “That day” Gladwell is referring to is the day in which 28-year old Sandra Bland, an African American woman, was arrested for failure to signal a lane change while driving home from her new university job to get groceries. She died three days later in a jail cell, having committed suicide.
I love the relatable nature of Malcolm Gladwell and the societal issues he takes on which is why, when Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know came out in late 2019, I added myself to the audiobook waitlist on the Libby app and eagerly awaited my turn to listen. I wasn’t disappointed.
For those unfamiliar with Canadian raised Gladwell, he is a former Washington Post reporter, author to bestsellers The Tipping Point, Blink, and David and Goliath, and currently writes for The New Yorker while also hosting the fifth session of his podcast, the Revisionist History.
Throughout the book Gladwell paints a convincing argument of why we think we can make accurate judgements about a stranger’s motives or character, but in reverse, we think that we are far too complex for any stranger to figure us out.
I recommend this book as an absorbing and digestible read in general, but as a “must read” for anyone involved in the recruitment process where job interviews serve as the main tool for making judgments around hiring strangers.
Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Milkman is a coming–of-age story like no other. The narrator’s story is told in digressive and ruminative manner that is similar to stream of consciousness, allowing us insight into her strong and unique voice. Although set in an urban war zone, this is not a political novel. It is about sexual surveillance, conflict between a girl and her community, and the consequences of inaction and silence.
At the start of the pandemic I set myself the task of reading all the Man Booker and Pulitzer prize winners of the past 5 years, which seemed like something that would be fun to do! Listening to a CBC interview with Colsom Whitehead (rare two- time Pulitzer winner), inspired me to read Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (already reviewed in KPU Reads) which won the Pulitzer in 2017.
Milkman was awarded the 2018 Man Booker prize. Such an amazing read! I highly recommend it! Now, onto The Overstory by Richard Powers, awarded the Pulitzer in 2019.
Milkman has made me think about intentional silence and deliberate deafness and how inaction can have enormous consequences.