So, that said, on to Hope in the Dark. We chose this book for January because it felt timely following the results of the 2016 election... and truly, I couldn't have predicted how timely it would become in the weeks following the 2017 inauguration. With no apologies for block quoting:
"Hope locates itself in the premises that we don't know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act... Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It's the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone." (xiv)
Much of Solnit's book goes on from this premise, bordering on redundant at times but with moments of brilliance peppered throughout. Because of the style of the writing, I'd recommend that this book be read in bits and pieces--an essay here, an essay there--rather than all at once; when I ducked in and out of Solnit's essays, rather than reading them back to back, they felt more unique and less repetitive, and their messages stood out more clearly to me.
Though Hope in the Dark isn't perfect, it read like a balm on my achy heart this month, and anyone wondering how to find the energy to keep engaging as things get more and more chaotic in the coming weeks should consider picking this one up. I finished it with many things to research, many things to think about, and many passages underlined.
If you've already read Hope in the Dark, or are just looking for more reading on activism and political engagement, we've got some suggested reading for you:
A few important Social Justice Book Club announcements!
1) Due to popular demand, we're breaking from our usual every-other-month format to do a Black History Month edition of SJBC, The Autobiography of Malcolm X in February. If you'd like to join the Slack discussions of this book, please add yourself to the Slack channel #malcolmx, or, if you are not yet in the Slack group, please sign up here to receive an invitation. (Note that the March book will still be Enrique's Journey, as originally announced.)
2) In order to ensure that we're basing club decisions on member input, we'd love it if you completed a brief survey for us. It won't take more than a few minutes. And please feel free to participate even if you weren't able to join in the January discussions.
Onwards and upwards, friends. Keep hoping. Keep working. Keep reading. I'm looking forward to so many more discussions with all of you.