Last month I wrote about my plan to read at least one book a month this year. I’m happy to report that I finished my January book… in February. The January selection was The Big Sort, which has been sitting on my book shelf for four years, along with a lot of other books I haven’t read yet either. I couldn’t let it remain another victim of my aggressive, aspirational book hobby.
Thoughts on The Big Sort
The book traces the movement of Americans into like-minded communities and details this impact on our political climate. Reviewing exhaustive demographic data and scientific research the authors discuss the marketing techniques politicians on both sides use to target their supporters. Of course, marketing and politicians aren’t exclusively to blame, human psychology, the desire to be with people like us, plays a big part.
By the time we are done buying our townhouse in the city or mansion in the exurbs, we have already made multiple choices that put ourselves in an enclave of people that think and act like us.
No wonder that some of us were shocked that Donald Trump won the election. I admit to being shocked that he actually won, but the fact that I know people who voted for both candidates puts me in the minority. This book sites the mind-boggling stat that only 23% of Americans had a political discussion with someone of the opposite spectrum in the last year (that year being 2008, the book was published in 2009, so this number may have increased or decreased since then).
This is a great book to read if you are trying to figure out how we got to our current American political situation. As for what to do about that situation, I found the book lacking in concrete solutions but the final sentences are a place to start:
“The message people living in a democracy must understand, more than any other message, is that there are Americans who aren’t just like you. They don’t live like you, they don’t have families like yours, and they don’t think like you. They may not live in your neighborhood, but this is their country too.”
February Book Selections (!)
In February I’m getting a little ambitious with my reading and taking on two books:
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak – A fiction pick to take me away from the world!
I Did Some Writing in January As Well
One of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day was the inspiration for a piece I wrote over at PIC on Groundhog Day at the office. Here is a quick snippet:
“I’ve been in HR over 10+ years and I see some stuff over and over again…I’m not sure what happens to some people but they enter an office and they treat it like their own home. They take their shoes off, microwave fish in the break room, managers yell at their employees to come to their office, etc… I could write a whole blog post on this but you get the picture. Be extra nice to people at the office, it isn’t your house and your mom isn’t cleaning up after you.”
Click over to PIC to read the rest. Check back here frequently for HR blogging and an update on my reading challenge!