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The books keeping us sane

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In-between bouts of homework overload, Netflix binges and late night isolation freak outs the editorial board here at the Collegian has managed to actually keep reading books. The kind you take off a shelf, move to a pile next to your bed and then eventually pick through a few pages at a time-but books nonetheless. Here are some of what we are reading currently. It is subject to change at a moments notice-even more so knowing that we can order more from so many local booksellers. And don’t forget that the silent reading party is now just a stay at home silent reading party, don’t miss out.

Lena Mercer

Badges without borders: How global counterinsurgency transformed American policing- Stuart Schraeder 

I have been excited about this book since I read about it’s release-in my continuing interest in the concept of borders and the way that restriction of movement can influence how entire societies develop-or not, this book was next on my list after “violent borders” and a few others narratives on the topic. Schraeder uses matter-of-fact language to dive into the deep minutiae of the rise of the global police. Having only started I can only speak to the stage he is setting- but the descriptions of the way in which race in the 1950’s played a major role in the creation of training facilities for international police forces; namely the question of “where in the US can you train police from Latin America and Africa without people in the school being racist to them?” leads me to believe this will be an incredible read. Bought from local radical bookstore Left Bank Books 

The Company of Wolves – Peter Steinhart

I became briefly obsessed with wolves and the drama around the post wolf management plan meetings in the Northeast of the state sometime last year; . I followed the Old Profane Territory pack as they dined on livestock and then were subsequently “managed” by the WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife and made a flurry of open record requests on the topic. This book explores, in great detail the history of how we came to be in the scenario we are in with the wolf populations in our region-along with amazing facts about the physiology and social lives of wolves themselves. It’s making for a great break from the serious nature of the world without completely rotting my brain on TV. Also there is an entire chapter on researchers who go out into the woods and howl for a living. Found in a little free book shelf somewhere in the CD and was traded for a copy of Nickle and Dimed that people won’t stop giving me.

Thomas McKenzie

Until the End of Time – Brian Greene

A noted mathematician and physicist takes a look at the creation of the human mind against the backdrop of the birth of the Universe. Sounds way heftier than it really is. I’ve always had a thing for space and science. Purchased from Elliott Bay Book Company


We Have No Idea – Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson

A beginner’s guide to dark matter, dark energy, and the remaining 95 percent of the profoundly crazy shit in the universe we’ve yet to figure out. Purchased from Elliott Bay Book Company

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

We choose our heroes early in life and for various reasons, accepting them for their flaws when they can no longer defend themselves. I like this book not just for the insanity, but for the writing style; clean, spare, focused. Thompson was known for typing out “Great American novels” by hand to get a feel for the writer’s style.(Purchased from a bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, 1995

Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration – Ninjalicious

Diagnosed with a terminal illness, the author spent his final days pouring everything he knew about urban exploration out on paper, dying just four weeks after the book was published. Urban exploration is part archeology, part-thrill seeking, but all respect: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” Purchased from the author’s website.


The Sick Bag Song – Nick Cave

Equal parts poetry and novel; a lovesick, exhaustion-ridden memory epic stretching across America from tour bus to flight to hotel room. Purchased from Elliott Bay Book Company

Sons of the Profits – William Spiedel

This book is the unofficial welcome guide to living in Seattle, and the story lays bare the strange foundations, backhanded deals and literal shitstorms on which the city was built. Purchased from the gift store at the end of the Underground Seattle tour

Danny Barber

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

I’ll be honest, I’ve mostly been reading 8 dollar wine bottle labels during aimless grocery trips, tickers on news feeds, and text boxes accompanied by cheerful warbling voices in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But I recently sat down to read one of three Gillian Flynn books in my possession (all of her repertoire, actually) like I do in times of great crisis. In Dark Places, Libby Day, lone survivor of her family’s mass slaughter, finds herself making deals for information with true crime lovers in order to pay the bills — as unscrupulous and doldrum as mass-murder-survivors come — but soon stumbles upon some dark truths to the matter. Purchased from Barnes and Noble

Astro Pittman

Animal Farm – George Orwell

The allegorical poignancy of this book is almost palpable at this pivotal moment in our sociopolitical landscape. This book is all about the realities of rebellion, freedom, democracy and dictatorship. When John the farmer forgets to feed the animals of Manor Farm, they revolt, and a revolution is born. That revolution doesn’t go so well, though, and treachery is afoot on both sides. The manipulation of laws, the plots, the scheming, secret handshakes behind closed doors, the scapegoating, misinformation, and tyranny, all smack loudly of certain aspects of our current political and social climates. This was one of my favorites as a child, which was perhaps a sign of my own rebellious and conspiratorial mind. I have found the rereading of this classic both fitting and timely, albeit one that carries with it a reminder of how impending doom is often hidden by good intentions, blind eyes, and plausible excuses. From the back of my bookshelf.

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder

For those of you with little free time, here’s a great way to stir your conspiratorial and democratic head spaces. This book is of the ilk often dubbed “bathroom reading”, in that it is short, sweet, and easy to digest. It cautions us that our democratic heritage does not shield us from threat. Each of the 20 mini-chapters focuses on specific lessons from historical pitfalls related to tyrannical rule, and endorses a practice we can each cultivate to prevent being a doormat to its destructive power. From refusing to obey in advance to remaining calm when the unthinkable happens, this book provides both nuggets of wisdom and some harsh warnings about how to keep democracy alive. The point is to learn from others’ experiences just how quickly democracy can fall into darkness and catastrophe. Purchased from Barnes & Noble.

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