Some books I read in 2015
After a multi-year drought I finally read a bunch of books in 2015. In celebration, I thought I'd mention a few of the better ones.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
This is one of the best books I read this year. It is an incredible explanation of continued institutional racism and the flaws of colourblind policy. It also was my introduction to the prision abolition movement and to Angela Davis (who isn't on this list but is always a great read).
Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada
If you are a settler-Canadian I think you have a personal responsibility to read this book. In spite of having a K-12 education in Canada, I found myself largely ignorant of the realities of the residential school system and the other acts of violence that the Canadian government commits while claiming to be a 'treaty nation' with 'no history of colonialism'. This book also does a great job of tackling the problem of using 'objectivity' and 'neutrality' as a silencing tactic.
Jorge Luis Borges
I learned about Borges almost a decade ago when an English prof explained the plot of Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote in passing. It was only this year that I discovered how Borgesian of an introduction that was. I wasn't even done the first story in this collection before I realized that I would be thinking a lot about Borges' writing for a long time. You should read Borges because you will enjoy Borges and then you can truly enjoy this beautiful version of his library: Library of Babel.
Compañeras: Zapatista Women's Stories
I had been wanting to read about the EZLN for a while, so I was delighted to find this one that centered on the women in the movement, and not just on Subcomandante Marcos. The EZLN's mostly-nonviolent rebellion and creation of an autonomous state within the rural, indigenous Mexican state of Chiapas is interesting (and overshadowed by drug gangs in international news about Mexico). It was wonderful to read about women's stories and struggles within the EZLN's larger struggle for independence, and indigenous and women's rights.
All My Puny Sorrows
Toews writes touching tales about everyday people dealing with isolation, loneliness, and depression. Her novels are extra special to me because they take place in (or in small towns near) Winnipeg and I don't get to read many books about where I live. This book is probably my favourite of hers (even more so because I read it while homesick after taking too many trips last year).
Internet of Garbage
A smart, well-argued book about harassment online. This is an important enough read that I put up with it only being available as an ebook. This book, tragically, perfectly embodied a year where the CEO of Reddit was harassed into stepping down and gamergate turned one and completed its transition from an army created by a man to harass his ex-girlfriend into the personal army of a few troglodyte reactionaries. Unfortunately, this year is alreadly looking like a year where it is relevent to read this.
In a surprise turn of events, the book that won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for the best novel was a really good science-fiction novel. Unless you absolutely hate books with spaceships, you should read this. Even if you aren't a big sci-fi fan, Ancillary Justice is a fun read that raises interesting questions about identity.
Making A Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights
This book probably was the thing that pushed me over the edge into vegetarianism so it probably warrants a mention on this list. If you are looking for a straightforward philisophical argument about the ethics of eating animals, I'd recommend Animals Like Us by Mark Rolwands. This book instead makes a leftist argument for animal rights based on reducing the suffering of both animls and the workers in animal industries.
Hobos to Street People: Artists' Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to Present
A quick interesting read about the artistic representation and public perception of homelessness in America. This book deals with the responsibilities of art to address social issues and with attempts to silence that art. It also has pictures that you can look at.
Disassembly Required: A Field Guide to Actually Existing Capitalism
This book is a serious attempt to describe capitalism as it's actually practiced and how that differs from capitalism as a theory. Even if the anticapitalist slant of this book isn't a selling point for you, you might find it useful to have a better understanding of the system that runs your life.
Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton
With institutional anti-black violence being so prominent in the news, there has never been a better time to actually learn what the Black Panther party was all about. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this novel was discovering how uncontroversial and obvious the goals of the Black Panther's goals were (the most sad probably was discovering now unrealized their goals still are). I really do not like guns, but the Panthers may represent the only legitimate case of exercising the 2nd amendment.