Books that gave us hope

December 21, 2019
Notable Nonfiction

Journalists who write for the Tyee recommend a fascinating list of 13 non-fiction books published in the last decade to give us hope for the future.

I’ve put all these books on my reading list for 2020, but I don’t think they will leave me hopeful. Most of the authors who recommend them don’t seem to have the same definition of hope as I do.

Geoff Dembicki certainly doesn’t. His argument in favour of P. E. Moskowitz’s 2017 book about the machinations behind gentrification stems makes it clear that he appreciates the book for its clear reasoning around what can be done now.

How to Kill a City is not optimistic in the traditional sense, but by revealing in precise detail the true drivers of gentrification, it allowed me to feel a sense of agency about an issue that has always stirred in me feelings of guilt — and these days I’m willing to call that hope.”

At least I think that’s what he means by “sense of agency,” although I won’t be sure until I read it too. My community certainly is facing gentrification now, so perhaps it’s worth looking at this book to see what’s next. Part of me resists reading it because of that, however. I’m not sure that anything can be done or that I can have a hand in doing it. Thanks to Dembicki’s high praise, however, my curiosity has been aroused.

Most of the other books describe climate change, residential schools, sexual abuse, the fall of civilization, murder, war, colonization and despair. Only people who believe deeply in the power of transparency and truth could find hope in stories about these topics.

Luckily, I don’t need to read them for hope. For me, it’s enough that I’m curious about the issues described within this list of books. Their appearance on a list of best nonfiction in a decade shows that they’re well-written too.

Reading stories by people who have studied important issues in an in-depth way is worth doing. If one or two helps me better understand the reality we live in so that I can be part of a consensus that will create the change we need moving forward, that will be awesome, but not at all necessary.

That said, I suspect I’ll read two of the most hopeful stories first.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — And Why Things Are Better Than You Think By Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund


The Global Forest
By Diana Beresford-Kroeger

How about you? Which of these stories have you read? Which ones do you want to read next?

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Tracey Arial

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Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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