What We're Reading This Summer 2016

Summer has arrived…and so has the CFRP summer reading list! Below are some of the books our faculty and staff are reading this summer – again some lighter fare, some not so much. Our team is growing too, so now there are even more to inspire you.

JustMercy PathologiesToPower InvisibleInAustin
AllSingleLadies WhiteTrash BrainRules
VoiceInHeart Scarcity GoSetWatchman
Evicted June SmartEnoughAnimals

More about the books:

  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson - Stevenson was a young lawyer dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case transformed Bryan’s understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. – summer pick by Anna Lipton Galbraith, Senior Research Associate
  • Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor by Paul Farmer –Pathologies of Power uses harrowing stories of life—and death—in extreme situations to interrogate our understanding of human rights. Farmer, a physician and anthropologist with twenty years of experience working in Haiti, Peru, and Russia, argues that promoting the social and economic rights of the world’s poor is the most important human rights struggle of our times. With passionate eyewitness accounts, this book links the lived experiences of individual victims to a broader analysis of structural violence. Farmer challenges conventional thinking within human rights circles and exposes the relationships between political and economic injustice, on one hand, and the suffering and illness of the powerless, on the other. – summer pick by Ally DeGraff, Research Analyst
  • Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City by Javier Auyero – Austin, Texas, is renowned as a high-tech, fast-growing city for the young and creative, a cool place to live, and the scene of internationally famous events such as SXSW and Formula 1. But as in many American cities, poverty and penury are booming along with wealth and material abundance in contemporary Austin. Rich and poor residents lead increasingly separate lives as growing socioeconomic inequality underscores residential, class, racial, and ethnic segregation. Sociologist Javier Auyero explores the lives of those working at the bottom of the social order and with Invisible in Austin, makes visible the growing gap between rich and poor that is reconfiguring the cityscape of one of America’s most dynamic places. – summer pick by Ruy Manrique-Betanzos, Research Associate
  • All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister - When journalist Traister started All the Single Ladies in 2009, it was the year the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50%; and the median age of first marriages, which had remained between 21 and 22 years old for nearly a century (1890–1980), had risen dramatically to 27. Traister discovered a startling truth: the phenomenon of the single woman in America is not a new one. And historically, when women were given options beyond early heterosexual marriage, the results were massive social change—temperance, abolition, secondary education, and more. All the Single Ladies is a portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. – summer pick by Sydney Briggs, Research Associate
  • White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenburg - Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over 400 years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Marginalized as a class, poor whites have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity. We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well. – summer pick by Jennifer Huffman, Research Associate
  • Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina – What’s the single most important thing you can do during pregnancy? What does watching TV do to a child’s brain? What’s the best way to handle temper tantrums? Scientists know. Dr. Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and dad, shares what the latest science says about how to raise smart and happy children from zero to five. One of the surprises: The best way to get your children into the college of their choice? Teach them impulse control. Brain Rules for Baby bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practice. – summer pick by Allison Dubin, Research Associate
  • This Voice in My Heart: A Runner’s Memoir of Genocide, Faith, and Forgiveness by Gilbert Tuhabonye - 17 years ago, Gilbert Tuhabonye lay buried under a pile of burning bodies. The centuries–old battle between Hutu and Tutsi tribes had come to Gilbert’s school in Burundi. Fueled by hatred, the Hutus forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a small room and used machetes to beat most of them to death. The unfortunate ones who survived the beating were doused with gasoline and set on fire. Gilbert hid under the burning bodies for over eight hours, escaped, and was the lone survivor of the genocide. The road has been a tough one, but Gilbert used his survival instincts to spur him on to the goal of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. Today, having forgiven his enemies and moved forward with his life, he is a world–class athlete, running coach and celebrity in his new hometown of Austin, Texas. – summer pick by Wendy Gonzales, Operations and Communications Director
  • Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir - Why does poverty persist? Why do organizations get stuck firefighting? Why do the lonely find it hard to make friends? These questions seem unconnected, yet Mullainathan and Shafir show that they are all are examples of a mindset produced by scarcity. Drawing on cutting-edge research from behavioral science and economics, Mullainathan and Shafir show that scarcity creates a similar psychology for everyone struggling to manage with less than they need. Busy people fail to manage their time efficiently for the same reasons the poor and those maxed out on credit cards fail to manage their money. The dynamics of scarcity reveal why dieters find it hard to resist temptation, why students and busy executives mismanage their time, and why sugarcane farmers are smarter after harvest than before. Once we start thinking in terms of scarcity and the strategies it imposes, the problems of modern life come into sharper focus. – summer pick by Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Director
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. 26 year old Jean Louise Finch, “Scout,” returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Go Set a Watchmancaptures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience. – summer pick by Kristyne Blackburn, Finance, Grants, and HR Director
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmondínez - Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship. – summer pick by Nicole Vinton, Program Coordinator
  • To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam - Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To the End of June, a portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children in their search for a stable, loving family. Beam shows us the intricacies of growing up in the system—the back-and-forth with agencies, the rootless shuffling between homes, the emotionally charged tug between foster and birth parents, the terrifying push out of foster care and into adulthood. – summer pick by Dr. Kaeley Bobbitt, Senior Policy Associate
  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal – What separates your mind from an animal’s? People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence by offering a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long. – summer pick by Jennifer Huffman, Research Associate

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