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Discovering Haymarket Books

Soon after I finished reading #FROM BLACKLIVESMATTER TO BLACK LIBERATION, its publisher tweeted an Arundhati Roy quote. It read, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”

All right, then, I told myself after sharing the tweet with my sister and husband. I need to be reading Arundhati Roy.

Unless I absolutely can’t get a product from not-Amazon, I’ll buy that product from not-Amazon. In this case, I figured I could probably buy Roy books directly from the publisher, Haymarket Books. I visited the site, both confirming my ordering suspicion and deciding I want to read everything they’ve ever published.

I prefer reading bound books. I’ll read ebooks in a pinch, but I’m anchored by the happy weight of hard books.

Four of the five books I ordered came with ebook copies. Given that the bound books were going to take more than a week to reach me, I peeked at the first: Angela Davis’s Freedom Is A Constant Struggle. Having peeked, I had to read the whole damn thing, even in ebook form. Davis spoke eloquently to something I’ve recently discovered: emphasizing the individual tends to displace the totality in people’s hearts and minds. Freedom, Davis explains with the eloquence of one who’s spoken these things for decades, is earned by collective struggle, not granted when charismatic individuals ask politely.

I decided to peek at another of the ebooks, Arundhati Roy and John Cusack’s Things That Can and Cannot Be Said. I breezed through the short book, an accounting of the authors’ meeting with Edward Snowden. Its parting words chilled me. Per Daniel Ellsberg, U.S. calculations of damage from nuclear attack have only included blast and radiation. They’ve excluded fire and smoke, because “we can’t calculate fire … It’s fire that kills most people–but they left that out of their calculations.”

This is an excellent example why every single USG-offered statistic must be explored in depth, and viewed with some skepticism. (Asking “cui bono?” benefits these analyses.)

With almost a week until my other Haymarket books reached me, I began reading Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark. I began reading it while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room last Friday; those around me might have mistaken my tears as originating with pain, rather than the beauty of connection … and hope affirmed even while looking genuine horror in the face. But, no: I was moved from almost its very first word, both the new preface and the older text.

Solnit sings praises of the activists whose works have changed understandings of what’s normal and right. She calls out for hope based both on the merits of hope, and the ample evidence of how–and where–activism has worked, though the public forgets the before and during, misremembering that we’ve always believed what we now acknowledge as true and right.

In 1900, the idea that women should have the vote was revolutionary; now, the idea that we should not have it would seem cracked. But no one went back to apologize to the suffragists who chained themselves to the gates of power, smashed all the windows on Bond Street, spent long months in jail, suffered forced feedings and demonization in the press.

Since I paused reading Hope in the Dark to finish a couple of other books, I’m not yet halfway through it. I don’t want to read it too quickly. It’s food for my soul, and as I’m always telling my sons, it’s important to savor good food.

It is, of course, also easier said than done.

This 2/28/17 post transferred from L2SP 5/26/17


  1. May 26, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Love books that have to be savored…. 🙂

    • May 26, 2017 at 4:32 am

      I’m reading one right now, Doughnut Economics, that absolutely fits this bill! I’m trying to read it only 10-20 pages at a time, because its hopeful vision of the future (coupled with loving recognition that humans are more than the caricature the last decades of laissez-faire economics has made us out to be) is something I need to chew slowly and savor, to fuel me for the longer haul. 🙂

      (I’m able to supplement with podcasts, happily! If reading the book is excellent, hearing its author speak is even better. ♥)

      • May 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm

        I agree! Specially when the author reads his/her own work! Enjoy your reads! 🙂

  2. May 26, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Wish I had more time (and motivation) to read actual books. I just can’t sit down and take an hour to read anymore without being interrupted or it being 11pm at night.

    • May 26, 2017 at 4:43 am

      I take my moments to read while walking these days. Between working, commuting, and household/family stuff, those quiet moments reading and walking fuel me (provided I balance somewhat grim factual reads with inspired perspective ones).

      I’ve also shifted from writing so much to reading. Having done that burst of writing, I now am happier reading than writing. Having done the huge burst of “learning to speak politics,” I no longer need all that practice. I have what it takes to converse face-to-face.

      I was listening to Ralph Nader’s podcast (wherein Chomsky ran through his 10 principles of wealth concentration) a few days ago. After Chomsky had dropped off, one of the podcast’s producers asked Ralph about reading. Basically, he wanted to know: “How do you find the time to read?” He said it’s hard to sit down and carve out time with everything going on; how do you even focus?! Ralph didn’t understand the question, I think, and just kept reiterating how important it is to read. I don’t know that books must be read, though; podcasts are better for the heart, connecting us to the real human beings behind the words, as I’ve had affirmed listening to Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, George Monbiot, and Kate Raworth recently. Raworth especially is even more joyful to hear than to read!

  3. May 26, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I am so with you on the real books versus e-books conundrum. And I find real books easier to flip through to find that passage I remember and want to think about.
    I read every day. For education, for comfort, for escape. Other things get neglected – and I feel very little guilt.

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