top of page

Readers Digest

Excerpts of books you meant to read but never did

Title
21 lessons for the 21st Century
Author

Yuval Noah Harari

Full Excerpt Link
Description

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive. In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in.

Title
A People’s History of the United States
Author

Howard Zinn

Full Excerpt Link
Description

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, it is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of—and in the words of—America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As Zinn shows, many of our country's greatest battles—the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality—were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance. Covering Christopher Columbus's arrival through President Clinton's first term, A People's History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.

Title
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Author

Isabel Wilkerson

Full Excerpt Link
Description

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched, and beautifully written narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more.

Title
Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World
Author

Annie Lowrey

Full Excerpt Link
Description

Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your bank account, with nothing expected in return. It sounds crazy. But it has become one of the most influential and hotly debated policy ideas of our time. Lowrey explores the potential of such a sweeping policy and the challenges the movement faces, among them contradictory aims, uncomfortable costs, and, most powerfully, the entrenched belief that no one should get something for nothing. In the end, she shows how this arcane policy has the potential to solve some of our most intractable economic problems, while offering a new vision of citizenship and a firmer foundation for our society in this age of turbulence and marvels.

Title
How Democracies Die
Author

Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

Full Excerpt Link
Description

Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.

Title
Poverty, by America
Author

Matthew Desmon

Full Excerpt Link
Description

The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.

Title
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Author

Richard Rothstein

Full Excerpt Link
Description

Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation with undisguised racial zoning, public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities, subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs, and tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation. This is what the courts call de jure segregation: created by law and public policy and clearly unconstitutional.

Title
The Great Dechurching: Who’s Leaving, Why Are They Going, and What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?
Author

Multiple Authors

Full Excerpt Link
Description

We are currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in US history.

It is greater than the First and Second Great Awakening and every revival in our country combined...but in the opposite direction. Yet precious little rigorous study has been done on the broad phenomenon of dechurching in America. Jim Davis and Michael Graham have commissioned the largest and most comprehensive study of dechurching in America by renowned sociologists Dr. Ryan Burge and Dr. Paul Djupe.

The Great Dechurching takes the insights gleaned from this study to drill down on how exactly people are dechurching with respect to beliefs, behavior, and belonging.
This book gives the church in America its first ever deep dive into the dechurched phenomenon. You'll learn about the dechurched through a detailed sketch of demographics, size, core concerns, church off-ramps, historical roots, and the gravity of what is at stake. Then you'll explore what can be done to slow the bleed, engage the pertinent issues winsomely and wisely, and hopefully re-church some of the dechurched.

Title
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
Author

Heather McGhee

Full Excerpt Link
Description

Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy—and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis of 2008 to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a root problem: racism in our politics and policymaking. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. The Sum of Us is not only a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here but also a heartfelt message, delivered with startling empathy, from a black woman to a multiracial America. It leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than a zero-sum game.

bottom of page