join our book club!
Everyone is welcome to join the CitySquare Urban Engagement Book Club (UEBC) facilitated by Randy Mayeux, long-time friend and supporter of CitySquare and our trusted guide through countless books centered around social justice and poverty for almost two decades. Join Randy and the CitySquare UEBC every third Thursday of the month at 12:30. We meet online on Zoom, so you can join from anywhere.
Each month Randy presents a selected book's critical content, with a comprehensive handout of key quotes and ideas. Then, in conversation with a diverse group of fellow participants, we discuss the book's implications. UEBC meetings help our team and our community stay aware, in touch, and engaged in an ongoing conversation around poverty and inequality in our city and country.
Below you’ll find selections for the current quarter of the year, as well as a list of the books that were selected for 2022. Please click the Register Today button to be taken to the current month’s selection, and to be added to the email distribution list for important book club updates. We look forward to seeing you at the next UEBC meeting!
If you have any questions, please contact Katherene Hough.
November 16, 2023
Radical Inclusion: Seven Steps to Help You Create a More Just Workplace, Home, and World, by David Moinina Sengeh
"Using stories and examples, David Moinina Sengeh presents seven principles for radical inclusion that are AS ACTIONABLE AS THEY ARE POWERFUL." ―Brené Brown
“This book is a master class in innovation and human transformation.” ―Kwame Alexander
Can you imagine a world where everyone belongs?
Readers who have encountered this extraordinary book after seeing it featured on the Today Show and at packed events across the country are discovering that Radical Inclusion is unlike any book they’ve ever read before – and is the book we all most need now. David Moinina Sengeh has written a page-turning and deeply human story that gives a remarkable blueprint we can apply to our daily lives.
December 21, 2023
by Greg Grandin
A new and eye-opening interpretation of the meaning of the frontier, from early westward expansion to Trump’s border wall.
Ever since this nation’s inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been central to American identity. Symbolizing a future of endless promise, it was the foundation of the United States’ belief in itself as an exceptional nation – democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America hasa new symbol: the border wall.
In The End of the Myth, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin explores the meaning of the frontier throughout the full sweep of U.S. history – from the American Revolution to the War of 1898, the New Deal to the election of 2016.
August 17, 2023
American Whitelash: A Changing Nation and the Cost of Progress, by Wesley Lowery
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wesley Lowery confronts the sickness at the heart of American society: the cyclical pattern of violence that has marred every moment of racial progress in this country, and whose bloodshed began anew following Obama’s 2008 election.
In 2008, Barack Obama’s historic victory was heralded as a turning point for the country. And so it would be—just not in the way that most Americans hoped. The election of the nation’s first Black president fanned long-burning embers of white supremacy, igniting a new and frightening phase in a historical American cycle of racial progress and white backlash.
In American Whitelash, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and best-selling author Wesley Lowery charts the return of this blood-stained trend, showing how the forces of white power retaliated against Obama’s victory—and both profited from, and helped to propel, the rise of Donald Trump. Interweaving deep historical analysis with gripping firsthand reporting on both victims and perpetrators of violence, Lowery uncovers how this vicious cycle is carrying us into ever more perilous territory, how the federal government has failed to intervene, and how we still might find a route of escape.
September 21, 2023
The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America, by Kathryn J Edin, H. Luke Shaefer, Timothy J Nelson
A sweeping and surprising new understanding of extreme poverty in America from the authors of the acclaimed $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.
“This book forces you to see American poverty in a whole new light.” (Matthew Desmond, author of Poverty, by America and Evicted)
Three of the nation’s top scholars – known for tackling key mysteries about poverty in America – turn their attention from the country’s poorest people to its poorest places. Based on a fresh, data-driven approach, they discover that America’s most disadvantaged communities are not the big cities that get the most notice. Instead, nearly all are rural. Little if any attention has been paid to these places or to the people who make their lives there.
October 19, 2023
The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens, by Richard Haass
A provocative guide to how we must reenvision citizenship if American democracy is to survive.
The United States faces dangerous threats from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, terrorists, climate change, and future pandemics. The greatest peril to the country, however, comes not from abroad but from within, from none other than ourselves. The question facing us is whether we are prepared to do what is necessary to save our democracy.
The Bill of Obligations is a bold call for change. In these pages, New York Times bestselling author Richard Haass argues that the very idea of citizenship must be revised and expanded. The Bill of Rights is at the center of our Constitution, yet our most intractable conflicts often emerge from contrasting views as to what our rights ought to be.
May 18, 2023
One of the most anticipated books of 2023: The Washington Post, Time, Esquire, Newsweek, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Elle, Salon, Lit Hub, Kirkus Reviews
The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages?
In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.
Elegantly written and fiercely argued, this compassionate book gives us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem. It also helps us imagine solutions. Desmond builds a startlingly original and ambitious case for ending poverty. He calls on us all to become poverty abolitionists, engaged in a politics of collective belonging to usher in a new age of shared prosperity and, at last, true freedom.
July 20, 2023
In Rough Sleepers, Tracy Kidder shows how one person can make a difference, as he tells the story of Dr. Jim O’Connell, a man who invented ways to create a community of care for a city’s unhoused population, including those who sleep on the streets—the “rough sleepers.”
When Jim O’Connell graduated from Harvard Medical School and was nearing the end of his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, the chief of medicine made a proposal: Would he defer a prestigious fellowship and spend a year helping to create an organization to bring health care to homeless citizens? Jim took the job because he felt he couldn’t refuse. But that year turned into his life’s calling. Tracy Kidder spent five years following Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues as they served their thousands of homeless patients. In this book, we travel with O’Connell as he navigates the city, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy, humor, and friendship to some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens. He emphasizes a style of medicine in which patients come first, joined with their providers in what he calls “a system of friends.”
February 16, 2023
What happens when Americans lose their jobs? In American Made, an illuminating story of ruin and reinvention, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Farah Stockman gives an up-close look at the profound role work plays in our sense of identity and belonging, as she follows three workers whose lives unravel when the factory they have dedicated so much to closes down.
“With humor, breathtaking honesty, and a historian’s satellite view, American Made illuminates the fault lines ripping America apart.”—Beth Macy, author of Factory Man and Dopesick
March 16, 2023
“The fights against hunger, homelessness, poverty, health disparities, poor schools, homophobia, transphobia, and domestic violence are feminist fights. Kendall offers a feminism rooted in the livelihood of everyday women.”—Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist, in The Atlantic
“One of the most important books of the current moment.”—Time
“A rousing call to action... It should be required reading for everyone.”—Gabrielle Union, author of We’re Going to Need More Wine
April 20, 2023
A Boston Globe Most Anticipated Fall Book
In this urgently needed guide, the PBS host, award-winning journalist, and author of We Need to Talk teaches us how to have productive conversations about race, offering insights, advice, and support.
“This is the book for people who have tried to debate and educate and argue and got nowhere; it is the book for those who have stopped talking to a neighbor or dread Thanksgiving dinner. It is an essential and timely book for all of us.”
January 20, 2022
A New York Times bestseller and enduring classic, All About Love is the acclaimed first volume in feminist icon bell hooks' "Love Song to the Nation" trilogy.All About Love reveals what causes a polarized society, and how to heal the divisions that cause suffering. Here is the truth about love, and inspiration to help us instill caring, compassion, and strength in our homes, schools, and workplaces.
February 17, 2022
The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on that work, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.
March 17, 2022
In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.
April 21, 2022
McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm—the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country—from parks and pools to functioning schools—have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world’s advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare.
May 19, 2022
The powerful, long-repressed classic of Dallas history that examines the violent and suppressed history of race and racism in the city. Written by longtime Dallas political journalist Jim Schutze, formerly of the Dallas Times Herald and Dallas Observer, and currently columnist at D Magazine, The Accommodation follows the story of Dallas from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement, and the city’s desegregation efforts in the 1950s and ‘60s. Known for being an uninhibited and honest account of the city’s institutional and structural racism, Schutze’s book argues that Dallas’ desegregation period came at a great cost to Black leaders in the city. Now, after decades out of print and hand-circulated underground, Schutze’s book serves as a reminder of what an American city will do to protect the white status quo.
June 16, 2022
Americans of good will on both the left and the right are secretly asking themselves the same question: how has the conversation on race in America gone so crazy? We’re told to read books and listen to music by people of color but that wearing certain clothes is “appropriation.” We hear that being white automatically gives you privilege and that being Black makes you a victim. We want to speak up but fear we’ll be seen as unwoke, or worse, labeled a racist. According to John McWhorter, the problem is that a well-meaning but pernicious form of antiracism has become, not a progressive ideology, but a religion—and one that’s illogical, unreachable, and unintentionally neoracist. In Woke Racism, McWhorter reveals the workings of this new religion, from the original sin of “white privilege” and the weaponization of cancel culture to ban heretics, to the evangelical fervor of the “woke mob.”
July 21, 2022
Jesus and John Wayne is a sweeping, revisionist history of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism, revealing how evangelicals have worked to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism. As acclaimed scholar Kristin Du Mez explains, the key to understanding this transformation is to recognize the centrality of popular culture in contemporary American evangelicalism. Many of today’s evangelicals might not be theologically astute, but they know their VeggieTales, they’ve read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, and they learned about purity before they learned about sex. Evangelical books, films, music, clothing, and merchandise shape the beliefs of millions. Chief among these evangelical legends is John Wayne, an icon of a lost time when men were uncowed by political correctness, unafraid to tell it like it was, and did what needed to be done.
August 18, 2022
Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown introduces readers to great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes, revealing in heart wrenching detail the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that methodically stripped them of freedom. A forceful narrative still discussed today as revelatory and controversial, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee permanently altered our understanding of how the American West came to be defined.
September 15, 2022
In Once I Was You, Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today. An urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all, this honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth.
October 20, 2022
Just Work is Kim Scott's new book, revealing a practical framework for both respecting everyone’s individuality and collaborating effectively. This is the essential guide leaders and their employees need to create more just workplaces and establish new norms of collaboration and respect.
November 17, 2022
Cassandra Speaks is about the stories we tell and how those stories become the culture. It’s about the stories we still blindly cling to, and the ones that cling to us: the origin tales, the guiding myths, the religious parables, the literature and films and fairy tales passed down through the centuries about women and men, power and war, sex and love, and the values we live by. Stories written mostly by men with lessons and laws for all of humanity. We have outgrown so many of them, and still they endure. This book is about what happens when women are the storytellers too—when we speak from our authentic voices, when we flex our values, when we become protagonists in the tales we tell about what it means to be human.
December 15, 2022
Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is , an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children in their search for a stable, loving family.