11 August 2009

Political Readings

Perhaps you have seen this article in the BBC about Venezuela's Revolutionary Reading Program, instituted by Huge Chavez as part of a larger project to instill socialist and humanistic values in the masses? Personally, I think it's a really neat idea, a government book club. I think it would perhaps be even more effective if it were combined with something like Book It! Corporate sponsored socialist consciousness raising! What an idea! Seriously though, I think it would be fabulous if the US government put out a list (and perhaps also distributed free copies) of books they think everyone ought to read. Then I realized that I guess this is kind of what, you know, high school government classes are for. But those, I think, mostly focus on history? I was in Germany that year of high school, so I dunno.

Anyhow, I was quite upset to discover that the Venezuelan list is nowhere to be found online - how am I supposed to become a Revolutionary Reader if I can't access the syllabus? But I have, in the meantime, been amusing myself by contemplating what books I would encourage every American citizen to read. One that comes to mind is Whiteness of a Different Color, by Matthew Frye Jacobson; or at least excerpts from it. I think it'd be nice, particularly given American obesity and junk food culture, if everyone read Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser and The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, but I guess those aren't as necessary. It's a nice thought experiment, anyhow.

Meanwhile, my friend James just sent me a link to a list of books that Obama has been sighted reading. I haven't read any of them, actually. I personally can't stand Dave Eggers, so I was surprised to see that one on there. Walcott is wonderful. The rest seem to all be non-fiction - I'm most curious abaout the Zakaria book. I read an interview with him in Playboy awhile ago, he seemed like a really smart guy.

Anyhow, fun stuff. People are so obsessed with role models for the youth and all that - I think that actually, role models are especially important in creating future readers.

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