4th of July Reading List Spectacular!

One of my favorite things about being a parish minister and a hustler of justice is I get to read constantly, because I have to understand what it is I’m fighting for.  I have two periodicals in my life: Rolling Stone magazine (journalism, baby) and the New York Times Book Review. I have a running list of books I want to acquire, and ostensibly, read. Years may go by before I read some of them, but others I devour.

As y’all settle into your summer, here are some great newly published or recent picks that are at the top of my list to read, many with patriotic subjects: what’s happening to America, politics, satire, and history. Note the article that is a primer for economic justice activism.

So get the kids to bed, turn off Netflix, and enrich yourself with knowledge and the truth about your country.  Turn on your patriotic mind, and your ass will follow – Happy Independence Day!


Evicted – Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016) by Matthew Desmond

This book could be a prelude to change if enough of us rise up. Very readable – about what life looks like when you’re forced to spend the majority of your income on rent, which fully a third of Americans do, if they’re not homeless.  Summary available.

Hand to Mouth – Living in Bootstrap America (2014) by Linda Tirado

Poverty is physically painful, but this book delivers wit with your moral witness. Foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Tale of Two Cities (2014) by Mark Maier and Peter Dreier

This article came out right before Christmastime at the end of 2014, so a lot of folks might have missed it. It’s important to note that, while Pasadena has the largest difference between rich and poor out of any city in the whole state of California, this tale-of-two-cities phenom is occurring in cities across America. I’ll go deeper into this with my next blog post, when I explain why I wanted Bernie.


For a readable, background history of the tale-of-two-cities phenom, check out,

The Color of Wealth – The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide (2006) by Lui, Robles, Leondar-Wright, Brewer, and Adamson

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime – The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (2016) by Elizabeth Hinton

Lately it’s been fashionable to blame the Clinton era (the first one) on the rise of mass incarceration. This book dials it back to the mid-1960’s and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Crime. So, same fuck-up, different Democrat. Highly praised in the review (“a revelation”).

The Firebrand and the First Lady – Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt and The Struggle for Social Justice (2016) by Patricia Bell-Scott

I can’t wait to read this one – about a bad-ass most of us have never heard of. Pauli Murray was a super smart and audacious African American woman who had a brilliant mind for activist strategy.


Wonder why we have Trump on the docket? These two books promise to illuminate how and why the Democrats can no longer claim to be the party for the working class,

Listen, Liberal – Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (2016) by Thomas Frank

The Limousine Liberal – How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America (2016) by Steve Fraser

United – Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good (2016) by Corey Booker

New Jersey US Senator.  Pretty sure this is the dude who recommended Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.  Could might make us feel better about Democrats!

Breakthrough – The Making of America’s First Woman President (2016) by Nancy Cohen

Women and politics making it to the show: Bring. It. On.


Free Speech – Ten Principles for a Connected World (2016) by Timothy Garten Ash

Establishing sensible social mores, not censorship, on free speech. Review said no other book has gathered the salient issues as thoroughly.

Rebel Reporting – John Ross Speaks to Independent Journalists (2015) edited by Stockwell and Bell

One review says, “John Ross was Jack Kerouac, Hunter Thompson, Roque Dalton and Che Guevara all rolled up together, but most of all he was himself, observer and participant at once, listening carefully to the poorest, challenging hypocrisy wherever he detected it oozing from the mouths of the powerful.” Enough said.


I’m looking forward to these novels,

The Sellout (2015) by Paul Beattie

Massively offensive, probably, to some.  Won loads of awards. Put that in your politically incorrect pipe and smoke it.

Blackass (2016) by A. Igoni Barrett

A black man in Nigeria wakes up a white man. If you like the Sellout, you might like Blackass, too. Also, gets us out of our myopic, US navel-gazing and into Africa.

A final note: I linked all these titles to Amazon so you could read more about them. But if you like to read books with paper pages, order them at your local mom and pop bookstore.

Until next time, Do the Hustle!

(Patriotic, disco-colored fireworks!)

– Rev. At-Large aka Rev. Hannah Hustlin’ Hope Petrie!

7 thoughts on “4th of July Reading List Spectacular!”

  1. This is great! I’m printing it out! And adding to the other long lists I’ve printed out. Still one can never have too many book lists…

  2. Thomas Frank is a hero of mine. I saw him on Bill Maher a couple of weeks ago talking about this newest book in which he takes on the Democrats. . . this time. His book about the Republicans (What’s the Matter with Kansas) altered irrevocably my perceptions about the literacy of the voting public.
    Your blog post minded me that I want to buy his book. Thanks.

    What an amazing list of recommendations!

    I am considering looking into Rolling Stone magazine. I read a lot of their articles online but it might be fun to have the physical magazine.

    I, too, wanted Bernie. It will be fun to see your reasons.

    1. I also watched Thomas Frank on T.V. and I agree with his lacerating views about the “liberal elite” in the Democratic party…

  3. You’ve got a great syllabus for a course here! You should try to pitch and then teach a course on these, or a book club/consciousness raising/reading group.

  4. I particularly like the book describing that the war on crime really started with Lyndon Johnson, and not Bill Clinton.
    Thank you, Reverend Hannah, this is a very impressive list of good books to read.
    Justice must and will prevail…

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