Common Readings

Fall 2017 Common Reading Book:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Written by J. D. Vance (2016)

Amazon ($17)

University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries

Summary: From Amazon — From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class through the author’s own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town. Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.

The Vance family story began with hope in postwar America. J.D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

Other Suggested Readings:

5 Minute Reads:

Longer Reads:

American Psychological Association Guidelines:

Video Clips:

Books:

Podcasts:

  • Code SwitchEver find yourself in a conversation about race and identity where you just get…stuck? Code Switch can help. We’re all journalists of color, and this isn’t just the work we do. It’s the lives we lead. Sometimes, we’ll make you laugh. Other times, you’ll get uncomfortable. But we’ll always be unflinchingly honest and empathetic. Come mix it up with us.

  • Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A monthly podcast featuring Tanzila ‘Taz’ Ahmed and Zahra Noorkbakhsh about the good and the bad about the American Muslim female experience.

  • About Race: Co-discussants Anna HolmesBaratunde ThurstonRaquel Cepeda and Tanner Colby host a lively multiracial, interracial conversation about the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America.

  • Latino USA: Listen on SoundCloudiTunes or Stitcher for Latino-focused episodes ranging from current events like Donald Trump kicking Jorge Ramos out of his press conference, “anchor babies” and Mexico’s drug war to evergreen cultural pieces spotlighting music and artists from Latin America or, of course, the Latino USA.

  • Still Processing: This podcast from The New York Times is hosted by Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. They cover all your pop culture favorites, from RuPaul to Girls to Beyoncé. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and if that lineup of topics doesn’t sell you on the show, Morris and Wortham’s fun, natural banter will.

  • The Bodcast: The first season of the show by Bustle focused primarily on size and how it intersects with race and gender. This second season, they’re asking questions that push the body positive conversation beyond size. Check out “The Bodcast” on ACast and iTunes.

  • Intersection: This podcast is from The New Republic, hosted by Jamil Smith. The podcast is centered on race, but always explores the intersectionality of racial identity with other social systems such as gender, sexual orientation, body image and beauty standards, economic issues, etc. Often featuring interviews with various experts, researchers, journalists, and real everyday people, Intersection is a really important look at the way racial identity fits into a much larger social landscape.

  • Another Round: Two hilarious (and occasionally drunk) women talk about everything from current events to workplace racism to squirrels in this BuzzFeed podcast.

Recent Movies: