I’ve had more time to read due to the slower pace of quarantine. I’ve noticed lately that my book choices align with current events, in pursuit of clarity and guidance in uncertain times. I’m currently reading two books: Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty, and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Capital and Ideology explores global inequality by critiquing our modern political systems and long-held assumptions about markets, profit, and the merits of capitalism. I appreciate this book because of its thoroughness. I still have many pages to finish. But I can see that Piketty’s final argument will be armed with so much research that it will be impossible to overlook.
The second book, The Fire Next Time, was one of Baldwin’s most searing and controversial publications. Written in 1963, Baldwin’s words and thoughts line up, unfortunately, with the insidious nature of racial inequality being discussed in America today. I’m reading this one to better understand the history of progress for marginalized people. I’m also reading because of Baldwin’s writing. I’ve always admired his eloquence, vulnerability, and pointed commentary. Baldwin gets the reader to think and wrestle with uncomfortable truths. My copy also contains photos from American photojournalist Steve Schapiro. These photos, taken in throughout the 20th century, add further impact to the words on the pages. These photos show how our society has advanced, stalled and at times backtracked on the path to racial equality.
I hope both books will help to increase my understanding of the world, how we’ve gotten here, and what to do next to make life better for all. In these times of uncertainty, one thing we know is life is never boring! Next up on my reading list is The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. Stay safe and curious!
Doran Moreland is the chair of the Indiana Humanities Board of Directors.