An Election Year Reading List

Posted on March 18, 2020


With everything going on with COVID-19, I was thinking to skip publishing a post this week.  The situation is evolving on a daily basis and who knows what tomorrow brings.  Talking about anything else feels like ignoring the elephant in the room when we are all largely confined to quarters.  At this writing, we are all healthy here and have enough toilet paper to get us through the next week or so.  I chose to be a good citizen and not hoard when I managed to find some at the store.  Anyway, my editor (aka my wife) thought my readers still might find a post entertaining/useful.  Here you go.


I read a poll that found that 39% of Americans reported having fights with family or friends over the 2016 election.  Sixteen percent reported ending a relationship over disagreements about the election.  Among married people who voted differently, 41% reported having fights over the election.

This is not a blog about politics.  It is a blog about relationship.  Wherever you are on the political spectrum, you would probably agree that we have lost the civility from the political discourse.  We no longer argue with the ideas of those with whom we disagree, but villainize (assigning evil intent) to those with whom we disagree.

As a public service, I would offer the following election year reading list.  On the list are both conservative and liberal authors.  The point is not about politics, but about how we relate to one another.

So here it is.

Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From the Culture of Contempt.  Arthur Brooks.  The title gives you a pretty good idea of what this book is about.  This is not just one man’s opinion, but backed up with behavioral research and wisdom.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.  Hans Rosling.  Rosling was an MD and professor of international health (he died in 2017).  In this book (his swansong), he presents data that challenges some of our understanding of the world and points out the flaws in how we humans make sense of the world.

Talking to Strangers.  Malcolm Gladwell.  As Gladwell often does, this book is an in depth study of how we make sense of each other, often wrongly.

What it is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues.  Clifford Thompson.  This is a first person account of an African-American man trying to understand the election of Donald Trump by interviewing Trump supporters.


None of these books is intended to bolster a particular political position, but you will be able to tell where the author falls in the political spectrum from their ideas.

Your first challenge will be to read each author focusing on the ideas presented rather than whether they match your politics.  Some of them inherently won’t match your politics as they are not all the same.  If you are conservative, don’t tune out because the author is more liberal than you are.  If you are liberal, don’t reject the author’s ideas if the author is more conservative that you are.

After you have read these, try to have a discussion with someone with whom you disagree.  You do not have to change any of your political positions.  Iron sharpens iron.  Having conversations with people with whom you disagree can sharpen your own thinking on issues.

Most important is to have healthy relationships.  You may hold fiercely to your convictions, but don’t let it rob you of the people you love.  Caring deeply about what happens in your country and having loving relationships with people who disagree with you don’t need to be mutually exclusive.