We are excited that Lory Hess will continue to hold her “Trying to Understand” Book Club at the Library. Check the Library’s website for information about meeting times and topics. In this post, Lory shares with us what motivated her to start the Club.
Why I Started the “Trying To Understand” Book Club
I have never been a politically active or literate person, but the events of the past year have pushed me to try to understand where our country has come from, as well as to find strength for the future. In an increasingly splintered and chaotic world, how do we find a place of true judgment from which to think, feel, and act?
As always throughout my life, books are the primary light upon this path. Books educate, challenge, and sustain me, introducing me to new ideas, giving voice to feelings I could not myself articulate, and putting my own small efforts into a larger perspective. As soon as I began looking, I found a multitude of titles to explore, and became excited at the potential for learning and self-transformation.
Although I began this as a solitary pursuit, I soon felt a wish to reach out to other readers who might be wanting to do the same thing. No such group existed, as far as I knew, so I decided to start one. I chose a time (one Tuesday evening a month) and a place (the Peterborough Town Library), put out a few posters and announcements, and waited to see what might develop.
Our group has been small — three of us the first meeting, two at the second — but has formed a place to engage with difficult, yet important ideas and experiences. In February we read The Unwinding by George Packer, a kaleidoscopic narrative portrait of the collapse of the American social contract through the past four decades. In March we read Dark Money by Jane Mayer, a compelling and disturbing account of how conservative billionaires have worked secretly to manipulate and control the country for their own interests.
Depressing? Perhaps, yet I personally find it helpful to at least understand some the reasons behind the phenomena we are experiencing. Though I do not yet see a clear way forward, I sense that gathering knowledge is the first step toward productive action.
We will next meet on April 25 to discuss Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, which promises to provide further insights. I hope that more readers may be inspired to join us in the coming months, and welcome all who may find this group a support for their own efforts in “trying to understand.”