The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry and produced by Gene Perry and Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a lot of reasons why winter is our favorite time of year (Fewer tornadoes! Legislative session starts soon!). However, one big reason is that it’s when we’re most likely to give and be given books — always dear to a policy nerd’s heart. It’s also the time when we get to share them with you!
In the latest episode of the OK PolicyCast, we discuss some of the books we’ve read and loved over the last year that we hope you’ll consider picking up, whether it’s to give them away or keep them for yourself (Or to buy with every intention of giving and then never getting around to it, and eventually keeping for yourself. Unless that’s just us?).
You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:
Below, we’ve included links to the books at Amazon and Powell’s, as well as ISBN numbers so you can order them at a bookseller of your choosing. Please support your local independent bookseller when possible; if you order off Amazon, consider using Amazon Smile to support OK Policy in the process. Please also don’t forget to check your local library! Titles are listed alphabetically by author’s last name.
Interested in more titles? You can also check out last year’s gift guide. And if you already have more books than time to read them this year, you can always check out the OK Policy store for other merchandise.
Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court by Amy Bach
“Every judge, prosecutor, and defense lawyer should read Ordinary Injustice. I hope it will compel us to reevaluate the injustice that occurs with impunity and regularity in our criminal justice system and I recommend it with great enthusiasm to anyone concerned about inequality and the law.” – Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice (x)
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
“Quiet is a thought-provoking and fascinating work that reminds us of the dangers of solely listening to the loudest voices.” – Margarita Tartakovsky, Psych Central (x)
Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen
“It’s the story of an assault upon thousands of defenseless people seen through the lens of a young woman, Carrie Buck, locked away in a Virginia state asylum. In meticulously tracing her ordeal, Cohen provides a superb history of eugenics in America, from its beginnings as an offshoot of social Darwinism — human survival of the fittest — to its rise as a popular movement.” – David Oshinsky, The New York Times (x)
Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits by Ansley T. Erickson
“This powerful history of four decades of school desegregation in Nashville demonstrates how federal and municipal policies consistently reproduced racial inequality across the metropolitan landscape and inside the classrooms of one of the nation’s most successful ‘statistically desegregated’ districts during the era of court-ordered busing. In Erickson’s sobering assessment, Nashville’s white leadership and educational system always favored economic growth over racial equality, white suburbs over urban neighborhoods, and market logics over democracy and full citizenship.” – Matthew Lassiter, Author of The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (x)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Gann
“Contained within Grann’s mesmerizing storytelling lies something more than a brisk, satisfying read. “Killers of the Flower Moon’’ offers up the Osage killings as emblematic of America’s relationship with its indigenous peoples and the “culture of killing” that has forever marred that tie.” – Michael Washburn, The Boston Globe (x)
A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor by Alexes Harris
“A Pound of Flesh is a critical and timely book on a great contemporary American injustice: the imposition of legal fines and fees through the criminal courts. Alexes Harris’ pioneering research documents the widespread practice of charging fines and fees to people who have contact with the criminal justice system—including some who are never convicted of a crime.” – Becky Pettit, professor of sociology, The University of Texas at Austin (x)
Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage by Kathryn Enid and Maria Kefalas
“This book provides the most insightful and comprehensive account I have read of the reasons why many low-income women postpone marriage but don’t postpone childbearing. Edin and Kefalas do an excellent job of illuminating the changing meaning of marriage in American society.”—Andrew Cherlin, author of Public and Private Families (x)
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
“And if you reread the book and ask yourself, what is the period of American history that most resembles today?, you would have to say, I think, the late 1850s and early 1860s. Here’s Lepore’s description of that time: ‘A sense of inevitability fell, as if there were a fate, a dismal dismantlement, that no series of events or accidents could thwart.’ Lincoln thought of the nation as a house, and quoted Scripture: ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ And his words, as always, cut through the ages like a knife.” – Andrew Sullivan, The New York Times (x)
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Meyer
“This tiny group of tycoons has created a funding network that skillfully — and often stealthily — pushes an antitax, pro-corporate agenda. In the process, they’ve exerted a transformative influence on government at the local, state and national levels — and changed the way Americans think, talk and vote.” – Kevin Canfield, San Francisco Chronicle (x)
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
“Weapons of Math Destruction is the Big Data story Silicon Valley proponents won’t tell. The author, Cathy O’Neil, is a former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant at D.E. Shaw, once part-owned by Lehman Brothers. Her book pithily exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society.” – Richard Beales, Reuters (x)
When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools: Class, Race, and the Challenge of Equity in Public Education by Linn Posey-Maddox
“Readers will find an insightful analysis of how a small but growing number of urban schools are being affected by the process of gentrification. While racial integration in schools has long been seen as a desirable social and political goal, relatively little attention has been given to how schools respond to the needs of different children and their parents as changes in the demographic composition of schools occur. Posey-Maddox reminds us that creating a school that succeeds in serving all children well is an extremely complex undertaking, especially when imbalances in power and privilege are significant.” – Pedro Noguera, New York University (x)
Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Ransby
“Historian and activist Barbara Ransby locates the Black feminist roots of the Black Lives Matter movement, providing rich and necessary context to the critical role played by Black women in this struggle against police abuse and violence. Ransby’s insistence on centering the experiences of Black women within the movement is not simply an exercise in demography, but it is fundamental to understanding the organizing principles, horizontal structure, and the leader-full strategy that defines the Movement for Black Lives. Ransby writes with urgency, passion, and a deep love for Black people. Get this book to understand where the movement is at and where it has the potential to take all of us.”—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (x)
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh
“In her memoir, ‘Heartland,’ Smarsh shows us through the fate of her own family how the working class became the working poor. She takes us through the welfare cuts of the Reagan administration that stigmatized her working mother and through the modern housing crisis that ruined her father’s construction business. ‘Heartland’ is her map of home, drawn with loving hands and tender words. This is the nation’s class divide brought into sharp relief through personal history.” – Elizabeth Catte, The Washington Post (x)
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
“Ms. Wilkerson sees them in the context of other immigrant groups—an approach I found more compelling. Much like Irish or Italian immigrants, migrants from the American South built new lives ‘around the people and churches they knew from back home,’ she writes. They took jobs others considered beneath them. And they tried to teach their children the religious values of the “old country” while urging them to succeed by the economic standards of their adopted world.” – John Stauffer, The Wall Street Journal (x)
What would you put on this list? Let us know in the comments!