As Courtney Martin's book, Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, launches this week, she's reminded of how much a book becomes a journey.
This journey was a vast and sometimes difficult, but ultimately, incredibly rewarding one for me. I spent a couple of years trying to find just the right literary form for some of my most burning questions: why does it seem like it’s so hard to actually “make a difference?” What does it mean to act ethically in such a complex world? Etc. Once I’d landed on the right form, and got the right collaborators (Beacon Press!), I still had to find the right subjects.
And boy, did I luck out. I found extraordinary ordinary people, all under 35 and doing interesting social justice work in the world, to open their lives to me. This week, as the book that features them makes its way out into the world, I thought I’d ask them what book was rocking their worlds at the moment.
Dena Simmons, a seventh grade teacher from the Bronx and an incredible educator and visionary said that she’s re-reading The Little Engine That Could
, by Watty Piper. She explains: “While there are many other books that have impacted me in my adulthood, the message in that book has stuck with me and has kept me going despite the many obstacles I faced in my childhood and adulthood. If the little engine could make it up an insurmountable feat, I knew that I too could make it through anything, and I had the fortune of both having the little engine as a model and my dear, dear mother, who showed me what it meant to persevere and to be determined.”
Emily Abt, a social issues filmmaker, in the thick of juggling work and family, said that she’s focused on Get to Work
by Linda Hirshman. According to Emily it is, “an excellent manifesto for our times, particularly inspiring for working moms.”
And Tyrone Boucher, a social justice philanthropist, said that he’s devouring The Revolution Will Not be Funded
by INCITE!. He explains: “This book brilliantly pinpoints the way that capitalism and the state co-opt current social justice movements, and offers some compelling alternatives. Required reading for anyone who cares about social change.”
Which should be just about all of us, no?