Progressive Picks

Books, Podcasts, Films and other thought provoking sources of ideas we like


All books are available through the Bookmine in Cottage Grove (541-942-7414).

Ask Gail. If she doesn't have it she will order it for you.

Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Political Right, By Arlie Hoschschild

This book describes how a group of Tea Party members who live in one of the most polluted areas of the country, the Southern Louisiana bayou, blame the federal government and progressive politicians for their plight, rather than the corporate polluters. Through vivid storytelling based on a sociological study of this community, the book does the impossible. It explains what seems so utterly incomprehensible to progressives: the mindset of those who voted for Donald Trump. Read it and understand.

All the President’s Men, By Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

NOW IS THE TIME TO READ THIS BOOK (AGAIN)! Whether for the first time or re-reading it after oh-so-many years, you will discover or remember what a page-turner this story is. The Nixon White House repeatedly accused The Washington Post, its two investigative journalists and even publisher Katharine Graham of spreading innuendo and practicing shabby journalism. Watergate unfolded painfully slowly, including hitting a roadblock that becalmed the whole story for months. Nonetheless, the Post doggedly persisted until the cover up could no longer survive. Congressional hearings were held; and the country was riveted to the televised proceedings. Alexander Butterfield revealed the existence of the tapes leading to Nixon’s resignation even after Nixon won a second term with a landslide vote. If you listen to it as an audio book, you will make excuses to take long drives just to keep listening!

What Happened, By Hillary Clinton

Yeah, what DID happen? How Clinton can not be screaming "I TOLD YOU SO!" from every mountain top every single minute of every single day is beyond me. Reading this book puts a human face on the woman who was so villified and downright lied about pretty much throughout her entire professional life. Reading side of the story will leave you wondering why we ever mistrusted her or even for one moment doubted that she should have been President of the United States.

Becoming, By Michelle Obama

There is a reason this book was at the top of the best seller list for so long. Michelle Obama tells her story here with candor and humor drawing you in and making you feel as though you know her, or at least want to! An extremely likeable person who has lead a truly remarkable life, Obama approaches every step along the way with humility and appreciation and a reasonably healthy dose of self-doubt. No wonder we all want to be her friend!

Educated, by Tara Westover

A vivid and traumatizing read, Westover's story of her upbringing in an isolated, extreme religious enviroment dominated by an abusive father and brother, shows the reader what a miracle it truly is that Westover found her way out. A study in how completely enveloping being raised by doctrine wholly based on inescapable circular logic, this deeply troubling book will stay with you. Don't shy away!

Hillbilly Elegy, By J.D. Vance

Another book that will help you understand how people who support conservative politics think, even when it is not in their interest. This memoir offers the unique perspective from someone who was raised Middletown, Ohio with family in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, amid poverty and disfunction, yet was able to finish college and graduate from Yale Law School. The story is less about his unlikely path to success and more about how the way people in this section of the country think and live and the conditions they face that lead them to think the way they do.

Talking to Strangers, By Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell has his detractors but he certainly can tell compelling stories. This one focuses on why we humans are so bad at figuring out when someone is lying to us. Through a series of examples that range from a behind-the-scenes look at the famous Milgram experiements to the challenges top-level intelligence professionals have rooting out a spy among them, the stories will draw you in. I listened to the audio book read by Gladwell, and his voice alone makes it hard to press the pause button. Another great listen for a long car ride!

These Truths, By Jill Lepore

Gain a new perspective on familiar events in the history of our country as Lepore takes you through them one by one and shows you how slavery and racism shaped our country from its very beginnings. Read this and to understand why we are so divided along racial lines even still today, but also to learn details about historical events that are not part of the story we all learned in school. Lepore helps us look at our past to understand where we are today.

Good and Mad, By Rebecca Traister

Guess what? When women cries, it is not always from sadness ; it is often because she is angry, and who can blame her? When women are mad, they are "shrill", "hysterical", "unhinged," "falling apart". Worse yet a woman might even be yelling and no one wants to hear that!

Rebecca Traister takes you on a journey though history highlighting the many ways women are not allowed or encouraged to express anger and what happens when they do. Women will find this book eye opening and cathartic. And men, you can learn something here too. The women you know are not always sad or weepy when they cry. They are mad! Read this book and learn exactly why!


Pod Save America

Four former Obama Administration staff members, two speech writers, a National Security Advisor spokesperson and a senior advisor for Strategy and Communication host a rollicking podcast that frankly discusses the latest developments on the political scene. They are strong advocates for voter involvement and offer ways to get involved so you don't just end up feeling outraged and frustrated. Take Action!

All the President's Lawyers

Lawyers! So many many lawyers! These two will help you find your way through the maze and make sense of what all these lawyers are up to. No need to go to law school just to understand what is going on. These two hosts will help you through.

Revisionist History

Okay I am a Malcolm Gladwell fan. This series of stories about "things often overlooked or misunderstood" is worthy of binge listening. Gladwell covers a wide variety of topics ranging from the "world's most controversial semicolon" to "the real story on what happened in Boston on the night of December 16, 1773." Gladwell can make literally any topic interesting. Give it a try – you won't be able to stop with just one, so go ahead and indulge!

~ Cathy Bellavita

Making Obama

If you are in desperate need of a feel-good story and find yourself looking back on the Obama presidency with great longing (his faults having been nearly forgotten in light of our democracy's current ongoing destruction), this 6 episode podcast will provide you with the fascinating account of Obama's rise from a community organizer to the Democratic nominee for President.