Reading Is Critical

 Reading is critical, in both senses of the word. Crucial, of course, insofar as it is a cornerstone of communication, a primary means by which we receive information. But it is also an active form of resistance, a tactic in the struggle against ignorance, misinformation, and manipulation. To read is to become knowledgeable; to become knowledgeable is to become powerful. We invite visiting authors, booksellers, and members of our community to submit "Critical Reading" lists featuring books that are, in these senses, “critical.” Submit yours by emailing, and check each post for details on related events!

February 19th, 2017

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd: 

This book taught me to think critically about the world by first thinking critically about my own life and my own experience. Kidd's biographical account of her feminine spiritual awakening resonated with my own experience, and taught me that reading can unlock entire parts of your experience that have been dying to surface, but have never had the chance. This book taught me to question authority and all that I hold sacred, while thinking deeply about the meaning of God-talk and the impact of language on the psyche. 

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander:

The publicity around this book pretty much speaks for itself. If anything, Alexander's book has reminded me to think critically about history-- because it is never merely something that lives in the past. We are creating...

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February 18th, 2017

From Argentinian writer, journalist, and translator Pola Oloixarac. Pola will discuss her novel, Savage Theories, with Victoria Saramago on Wed. 2/22 6pm at the Co-op:

On the 1970s Dirty War in Argentina: How we deal with the political burden of the Dirty War years is a big locus of contemporary literature, as well as a topic in the media: it became a staple of the populist regime under Kirchner to portray Montoneros as romantic heroes. Savage Theories contends against this belief. For example, one of the characters is an old Montonero who is now a perfect bourgeois, seduced and mentally tortured by the narrator, a person born in the 1970s. 

My novel also asks the question: How is political resistance...

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February 17th, 2017

Rachel Branham is an artist educator. She is interested in art making as a tool for self-expression and social justice, and believes that project-based, individualized and holistic education is a human right for all young people. She'll be discussing her graphic memoir, What's So Great About Art, Anyway?: A Teacher's Odyssey, with Bill Ayers at 57th Street Books on Sun. 2/19 3pm. 

To Teach: The Journey in Comics by Bill Ayers and Ryan Alxander-Tanner

This is the book that first turned me on to Bill Ayers and his work, as it most closely mirrored my...

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February 16th, 2017

Tara Betts is a local author and professor. She's been a part of a number of events at the Co-op and 57th Street, and will next join us on Thu. 2/23 6pm at 57th Street for a discussion with Kristiana Rae Colón.

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February 15th, 2017

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February 14th, 2017

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February 12th, 2017

Sarah Hammerschlag is a scholar in the area of Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture, and the author of Broken Tablets: Levinas, Derrida and the Literary Afterlife of Religion. Join her for a discussion of the book Tue. 2/21/2017 at the Co-op. 


Broken Tablets  is a book about two French philosophers thinking through the nature of Jewish survival in the postwar European context.  Recently for another project—a conference and accompanying volume on memory and postwar Paris-- I spent some time thinking through a different slant on the same question and reading literary sources that deal in various ways with the issue of postwar French Jewish survival.  ...

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February 11th, 2017

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February 10th, 2017

Matt Eisenbrandt is a human-rights attorney as well as the author of Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Oscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to JusticeHis list of critical reads includes early influences on his legal career, as well as crucial studies of Central American history. You can catch Matt at 57th Street Books at 6pm on Wed. 2/15/17.


I think a lot about the US civil rights movement and how it played out versus what happened in El Salvador in the 70s and 80s. Two early influences:

  • John Lewis, Walking With The Wind (I read this in first year of law school and it convinced me to pursue a career in human rights)
  • David...
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