Open Discussion Project
With the growing polarization of our society regarding politics and problems facing our nation, Anderson’s Bookshop is one of six independent bookstores around the country launching the Open Discussion Project. The initiative is ponsored by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the American Booksellers Association and the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
The club's goal is to foster dialog and better understanding between people with different political viewpoints and to provide a space for civil discourse on controversial or divisive topics. The book selections are also chosen to represent issues and viewpoints across the political spectrum. The aim of each discussion is to promote understanding ... “Ah, now I understand how they can think that!” ... rather than convince anyone of a particular point of view. The group is moderated by two trained facilitars, Hubert Morgan and Mary Gibson. The books chosen each month will be 20% off!
Where and When
The Open Discussion Project meets virtually while COVID keeps us from in-person meetings. Please sign up for the email list to be notified of the Zoom link each month.
Meetings and Books
June 15, 2020
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
July 13, 2020
The Conservative Sensibility, by George Will
August 10, 2020
Strangers in Their Own Land, by Arlie Russell Hochschild
September 14, 2020
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
Previous meetings and books:
February 18, 2019
March 18, 2019
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
April 22, 2019
The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America's Poor by Michael D. Tanner
May 20, 2019
Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side by Eve Ewing
June 17, 2019 - Rescheduled
July 15, 2019 - Rescheduled
October 21, 2019
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates
Check back here for upcoming dates and titles!
These are the ground rules as decided upon by our participants at our first meeting:
- No personal attacks
- Listen respectfully and thoughtfully
- It's OK to disagree! Expect conflicting viewpoints. We’re here to explore them.
- What's said here, stays here
- As we go around the circle, please don’t dominate the discussion, give everyone an opportunity to speak
- Try building on the ideas of others by using language like “yes, and…”, instead of negating ideas (“yes, but…”)
- Please respect time limits
Some general discussion questions to think about as you read the chosen books:
- What is main idea of the book? What problems or issues are raised? Are they personal, religious, societal, cultural, global, political, economic, etc.?
- What is the book’s context and/or cultural setting? How do they differ from yours?
- What does the author celebrate? Criticize? Does the author advocate preservation or reform?
- Did you find the book controversial? How so? How does your unique perspective inform your opinion?
- How did the author support the argument? Personal observations? Facts? Statistics? Opinions? Historical documents? Scientific research? Quotations from authorities?
- Did the author write objectively? Passionately? Did the language seem polemical? Sarcastic?
- What are the implications for the future in this book?
- Does the author—or can you—offer solutions? Who would implement those solutions?
- Did you learn something new? Did the book broaden your perspective about a personal or societal issue?
Additional books to consider:
Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side
by Eve Ewing https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780226526027
An insider’s look at the 2013 proposed school closings in Chicago, a story of systemic racism, inequality, bad faith, and distrust that stretches deep into Chicago history.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
by Jonathan Haidt https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780307455772
In this “landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself” (The New York Times Book Review) social psychologist Jonathan Haidt challenges conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to conservatives and liberals alike.
Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780812993547
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis.
The Inclusive Economy
by Michael D Tanner https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9781948647014
In a bold challenge to the conventional wisdom of both liberals and conservatives, Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, looks at the reasons for poverty in America and offers a detailed agenda for increasing wealth, incomes, and opportunity.
Melting Pot or Civil War
by Reihan Salam https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780735216273
Salam, the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, offers a solution to the immigration issue, if we have the courage to break with the past and craft an immigration policy that serves our long-term national interests. Rejecting both militant multiculturalism and white identity politics, he argues that limiting total immigration and favoring skilled immigrants will combat rising inequality, balance diversity with assimilation, and foster a new nationalism that puts the interests of all Americans—native-born and foreign-born—first.
Ten Arguments for Deleting your Social Media
by Jaron Lanier https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9781250196682
You might have trouble imagining life without your social media accounts, but virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier insists that we’re better off without them. In Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Lanier, who participates in no social media, offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave these dangerous online platforms.
Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
by James W Loewen https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9781620974346
In this groundbreaking work, sociologist James W. Loewen brings to light decades of hidden racial exclusion in America. In a provocative, sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, Loewen uncovers the thousands of "sundown towns"--almost exclusively white towns where it was an unspoken rule that blacks weren't welcome--that cropped up throughout the twentieth century, most of them located outside of the South.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780812984965
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780062300553
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780399590504
An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
by Matthew Desmond https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780553447453
In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of 21st-century America’s most devastating problems.
Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony C. Greenwald https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780345528438
“Blindspot” is the authors’ metaphor for the portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. Writing with simplicity and verve, Banaji and Greenwald question the extent to which our perceptions of social groups—without our awareness or conscious control—shape our likes and dislikes and our judgments about people’s character, abilities, and potential.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
By Robin DiAngelo https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9780807047415
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have
By Tatiana Schlossberg https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9781538747087
From a former New York Times science writer, this urgent call to action will empower you to stand up to climate change and environmental pollution by making simple but impactful everyday choices. With urgency and wit, Tatiana Schlossberg explains that far from being only a distant problem of the natural world created by the fossil fuel industry, climate change is all around us, all the time, lurking everywhere in our convenience-driven society, all without our realizing it.
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
By Arlie Hochschild https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/book/9781620973493
The National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestseller that became a guide and balm for a country struggling to understand the election of Donald Trump.