This Monday, Nov. 14, NPR correspondent Lynn Neary spoke to National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas about this year’s National Book Awards ceremony, which is taking place amidst a time of deep political divide. Lucas said she believes one way to break the confines of our political echo chambers is to “read the book that’s not for you.”
Lucas suggested picking up Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russel Hochschild “about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana’s bayou country.” She also recommends last year’s National Book Awards nonfiction winner Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates about “what it means to be black in America.”
Read an excerpt from the story below, and then, we want to hear from you. Be sure to answer our poll about books that have changed and shaped your own worldview.
This year, the National Book Awards ceremony comes at a time when the nation has rarely seemed more divided. The bitter presidential campaign exposed a fault line in the United States that will not easily be repaired. And while there’s no one simple answer, Lisa Lucas, head of the National Book Foundation, recommends one way to understand the other side: read.
“We all need to be reading across the lines we’ve drawn in our lives,” she says.
For her friends and colleagues in New York City, that may mean picking up one of this year’s nonfiction finalists, Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana’s bayou country. And Lucas wishes the people Hochschild interviewed for her book would read last year’s nonfiction winner, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, about what it means to be black in America.
She says a book is a great connector, so the next time you’re looking for something to read, “don’t just read the thing that you think is for you … read the thing that’s not.”
You can read and listen to the full story here.
So we at First Floor Cherry want to know: what’s a book you’ve read that’s changed your political perspective or given you an insight into someone else’s worldview?
Comment your answer below or submit anonymously via our Google form. While you’re there, feel free to leave a few quick words of unity. Together, we have the power to build bridges of understanding, empathy, and compassion.