Best of 2011 – Books


I didn’t do one of these lists at the end of last year. I didn’t do a lot of stuff on this site. It’s been pretty quiet around here. I got a new job and that pretty much abducted my time. I’m trying to slowly trying to remedy that. I’m slowly trying to regain the joy I’ve felt in the past that comes when connecting with the small press/writing community. I got bogged down in the logistics of running Anna to appreciate the rewards. But that’s for another post.

This is a bunch of stuff that pumped my nads last year and continue to pump my nads. I’m gonna spread these out over a few posts. I was supposed to do this for Big Other, but, job stuff, you know. Sorry John. Here’s some books that opened up a bunch of new neural pathways in my brain, even solidified a few into place:

Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hays –  It’s been a pretty political year. I got involved with a giving circle project that caused me to analyze societal issues in a very aggressive way. This book was the spark that lit the fuse for me. Hayes talks a lot about social change starting within the home, a lot about how the industrial food system and consumer culture is wrecking not just the planet but our relationships and how we interact with each other. She proposes the antidote is making decisions within the home that subvert these systems, everything from choosing to purchase food from local sources, manufacturing your own clothes, houshold products, entertainment, growing your own vegetables, cultivating your own livestock, etc. The most interesting thing was how she tracked the history of the American home maker to the beginning of the industrial revolution when men traditionally had to leave the home to work and how the resulting circumstances lead to a cultural epidemic of “Housewife Syndrome” in the 1950’s, which was a catch-all term for depression and a loss of sense-of-purpose of house wives who’d been reduced to consumers and chouffers rather than the beating hearts of the home.


The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn – I don’t understand how anyone can read this book and not become radicalized. You’d probably need to be immursed in a deep level of denial or have a substantial amount of emotional and capital investment in promiting imperialism, colonialism, and irresponsible captitalism (or some combination of these things) to not be swayed in a radical direction by the steadfast and unwavering American tradition of opression, subjugation, genocide and unchecked cruelty in the name of stealing resources and hoarding wealth that Zinn plainly lays out.

I couldn’t be more behind the curve with this one. It’s kind of like saying, “Have you tried eating honey? Holy shit, honey is fantastic! I need to spread the word about honey!” But whatever. A good book is a good book whenever you read it.


  1. eman says:

    ‘the peoples history of the us’ is a tough book to read– i couldn’t get past the first part– it was so depressing to learn that Colombus brought back slaves on his first voyage… and pretty must ushered in the absolute decimation of the native american population of the carribean, north american and south america.

    but i stil keep the book on my shelf for when i have the strength to look at the truth about certain eras.

  2. chris says:

    Yeah, it’s pretty raw. I had to take some breaks in between chapters to process the information. Though, as a white male born of privilege, it’s an important book in my life in that it’s a gateway to coming to terms with my country’s history and the history of my ancestors and hopefully understanding the root causes of most of the problems this country faces.

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