I have decided to participate in a book blogging community reading challenge. I don’t generally like the idea of challenges because I like to let my reading selections be driven by what I feel like reading at a particular time, not what I need to read to meet some goal. However, the World Citizen Challenge that Eva is hosting is very much along the lines of the type of non-fiction I generally read, and I think I can do it without having to “force” myself to read things. I like the concept and the possibility of participating in discussions related to the topics. The idea is “a reading challenge that invites participants to get to know the world better and become true world citizens.” There are six categories: politics, economics, history, culture or anthropology/sociology, worldwide issues, and memoirs/autobiographies. You can participate in the challenge at several different levels. I plan to do at least the Minor level, which requires reading three books from at least two categories, but I expect it is very likely I will complete the Major level, which requires five books from at least three categories. After having put together a list of potential books (see below), I think it is even quite possible I will complete the Postgraduate level, which requires reading seven books including one from each category.
I’ve put together a list of books I am interested in for each category. What I actually end up reading will depend in part of what is available at my library (or that I find at used book stores) and my mood at the time. In the list below I have put an asterisk by the books I’m most interested in right now and a plus sign by the books currently available at my library. This list is certainly subject to change, and what I end up reading may not be on here at all. So, here’s the list for now:
- *+ Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World, by Samantha Power: Sergio Vieria worked for the UN, and Eva in her review says “Suffice it to say, if you have any interest in nation-building, or peacekeeping, or diplomacy, or the UN, or conflict resolution, you’ll devour this book.” So I think I’ll like it.
- Sexual Decoys: Gender, Race and War in Imperial Democracy, by Zillah Eisenstein: This sounds like an important book for someone interested in peace, gender, and democracy, as I am. Another review from Ms. Magazine.
- * The Ambassador: Inside the Life of a Working Diplomat, by John Shaw: This book about Jan Eliasson’s last year as Swedish ambassador to the U.S. sounds intriguing. If I want to work towards peace it would be useful to know what diplomats do.
- *+ Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, by David K. Shipler: I enjoyed another book by Shipler, and the seemingly intractable conflicts in the middle east intrigue me.
- + Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East, by Robin Wright
- + The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein: I’m not sure I need to read any more books that will make me depressed about the state of this country, but this one does sound good. Another review from Ms. Magazine.
- * No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart: The Surprising Deceptions of Individual Choice, by Tom Slee
- + The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, by Paul Collier
- *+ The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, by William Easterly: I am already skeptical about the humanitarian aid industry, so I am curious to read this book.
- *+ The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilites for Our Time, by Jeffrey Sachs: A book that offers hope about poverty!
- *+ Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, by Muhammad Yunus: Another book that offers hope about poverty! I’ve read Banker to the Poor and found it inspiring.
- + Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and The Secret History of Capitalism, by Ha-Joon Chang
- *+ Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibben: I do not like the goal of endless economic growth, and I’m interested in other ways of structuring economies that are more sustainable.
- *+ Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E. F. Schumacher: I think people do matter, and we need an economy that believes that too. I look forward to reading what Schumacher has to say.
- * A History of the Jewish People, edited by Hayim Ben-Sasson: This has been sitting on my parent’s shelf for as long as I can remember, and one of these days I intend to read it.
- * Imagining Peace: A History of Early English Pacifist Ideas, by Ben Lowe
- A Natural History of Peace, by Thomas A. Gregor
- * Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas, by David Cortright
- * Women Who Light the Dark, by Paola Gianturco: I read a review of this on Feministing and it sounds wonderfully inspiring.
- *+ The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations, by Jonathan Sacks: There will always be differences between people and civilizations, but does that have to lead inevitably to war? I don’t think so, and I’m curious to see what Sacks has to say on it.
- *+ The Lucifer Effect, by Phil Zimbardo: This book is about how good people turn evil. Even though I have a general idea of what he says here (having taken social psychology), I still find myself asking over and over, “how can someone do that?”, so I look forward to reading his book.
- *+ Manifestos on the Future of Food & Seed, edited by Vandana Shiva: I read a review of this in Ms. Magazine and it caught my attention since I’m interested in food issues.
- * Where Human Rights Begin: Health, Sexuality and Women in the New Millenium, edited by Wendy Chavkin and Ellen Chesler: Women’s rights are human rights and I’m very interested in both, so this sounds like a good book. Another review from Ms. Magazine.
- + The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, by Fareed Zakaria
- + The Battle for God, by Karen Armstrong
- *+ Arguing About War or Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, by Michael Walzer: I consider myself a pacifist, but in order to truly be one I should familiarize myself with the arguments for just wars.
- * When War is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking, by John Howard Yodor: This sounds like a good discussion of just war from the point of view of a pacifist.
- * Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War, by Glen H. Stassen
- + Monique and the Mango Rains, by Kris Hollaway: I love the idea of the peace corps although I don’t know if I’d have the courage to be in it, and Eva says this memoir about being in the peace corps is a great read.
- *+ Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I am eager to read this account of Mortenson’s work bringing schools to rural Pakistan and Afghanistan; I believe that education is a crucial part of peace.
- *+ This Side of Peace: A Personal Account, by Hanan Ashrawi: This is a personal perspective on the Israel-Arab peace process.