Reading Recs – November 2021

Once a month, we bring you an update from a few Hackers on things we’ve been reading, enjoying, and learning that month, whether that’s fiction, non-fiction, an interesting article, or a series of social media posts. We hope you’ll join along with us and share your most interesting reads in the comments!

Robin Gee

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the last two years have really affected many of our attitudes towards solitude and distance, so Kristen Radtke’s latest graphic novel, Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness really hits home. A hybrid of nonfiction and memoir, it pulls together gorgeous and evocative artwork, scientific studies on the effects of loneliness such as Harry Harlow’s monkey studies on social isolation, Radtke’s own experiences with being lonely, and cultural quirks such as sitcom’s laugh tracks and the creation of the lonely American cowboy. While I was aware of the mental health consequences of long-term isolation, I was surprised by how big an impact it has on physical health as well. While not directly related to LIS, having started my program mid-2020, the social distancing and other safety measures COVID-19 has necessitated are almost impossible to separate from school and work. If you’re looking for a well-researched nonfiction read in an easy-to-digest format, this is a great graphic novel for you.

Lauren Bauer

Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Tressie McMillan Cottom

I grew up with daytime TV commercials for ITT Tech, a for-profit college that has since gone out of business. (‘Out of business’ – what a strange phrase to associate with a school!) And, as a current and hopefully future community college employee, I think a lot about why students enroll, where students enroll, how they progress through higher education, how they pay for school, and what they do after they graduate. For anyone else interested in similar topics, this book is both well-researched and easily readable. Cottom was employed by two different for-profit colleges before starting grad school, and did her master’s and PhD work in sociology on this topic. (Side note: I’m taking a research methods class this semester, and following along, seemingly in real time, with someone as they conducted interviews, debated ethics, and collected statistics was a very helpful primer in just how this work is done!) It touches on student loan debt, students in rural vs urban areas, federal and state education laws and regulations, parenting while in school, and racial equity in higher education. I’d recommend it to anyone who knows or is looking to work with adult learners.

Erika Whinihan

Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang

This beautiful debut memoir gave me a deeper appreciation of what immigrant families experience when they come to the United States. The daily fear they live in and discrimination they experience and must endure. The desperation they feel and the jobs they have no choice but to do in order to survive. Stories like Qian’s need to be shared and read more. I really loved this book that I had not heard of but found randomly at the Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch “Peak Picks” display. The cover was beautiful and the description on the inlet sounded intriguing. I’m so glad I found it. It is beautifully written and definitely a page turner. A beautiful debut memoir that reads more like fiction and will leave you with a new understanding and appreciation of undocumented America.

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