This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

I’m a longtime admirer of Naomi Klein, a journalist, author, and activist. Her previous books No Logo and The Shock Doctrine were both eye-opening for me in terms of their content, and admirable to me in terms of Klein’s ability to write sharp, concise prose that tames thorny issues into words that are not only easy to follow, but enjoyable to read. I had high hopes when I heard that she was releasing a book about climate change, since that is a complex topic with often-changing theories and information. This Changes Everything did not disappoint.

In her introduction, Klein recollects that for a long time, she felt that climate change, though unfortunate, was not necessarily a critical issue. I can relate to that feeling–it seems like there are so many problems facing the world today that it’s overwhelming. Klein reveals the first time she began to see global climate change as a truly critical issue–in 2009, she met with Angelica Navarro Llanos, Bolivia’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Llanos explained the “Marshall Plan for the Earth” to Klein, where wealthy countries who had benefited from causing climate change would pay reparations to developing nations who were being hurt by it. Klein began to understand how connected climate change is with food justice, super storms, clean water, poverty, and other pressing issues.

In the rest of the book, Klein goes on to show how all these issues are interconnected. She spells out who profits from climate change (energy companies; entrepreneurs who want to block out the sun) and who suffers (pretty much everyone else), and what steps need to be taken immediately to delay–and eventually repair–climate change. Her tone captures the urgency of the situation, but is not without hope. She highlights examples like the Lakota entrepreneur Henry Red Cloud, whose organization trains American Indians in the installation of solar and wind energy projects on reservations. It creates jobs and low-cost energy sources and reduces pollution. As a journalist, Klein traveled around the world and spoke with many fascinating people working on various projects related to climate change, and This Changes Everything includes partial interviews with many of those people.

If you have felt overwhelmed by media reporting on climate change, I would highly recommend reading This Changes Everything. Naomi Klein has written a compelling, cohesive story that takes into account many of the causes and possible cures for climate change.

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The Moth, edited by Catherine Burns

The Moth edited by Catherine Burns

 

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Moth, the intro to the radio show sums it up: “True stories told live without notes.” Told live! So when I first heard about The Moth book, edited by Catherine Cook, I admit I was a bit skeptical. I’m a fan of the Moth’s podcast and radio show, and have even told some stories myself at the Louisville Moth StorySlams. But so much of what I love about Moth stories are the way the tellers tell them, and I wasn’t sure how well these stories would translate to the written word. And furthermore, I wasn’t quite sure what the point of doing so was, when most of these are available on the Moth’s podcast. But since I do love the Moth so much, I decided to put aside my misgivings and try the book. I’m glad I did.

First of all, I loved the preface by Adam Gopnik, the forward by George Dawes Green, and the introduction by Catherine Cook, all of which give different perspectives on the history of the Moth and how Moth stories are shaped. Cook’s introduction also makes it clear that the 50 stories chosen for this book aren’t necessarily the 50 best Moth stories, but rather 50 that were chosen because they would adapt well to the page. These are undeniably great stories, though, and if they lost anything by being transcribed, they also gained something by giving the reader the opportunity to linger over favorite phrases, or re-read particularly surprising lines.

There’s a wide variety of stories in here, truly something for everyone. Some of them are stories from celebrities–I particularly loved Darryl “DMC” McDaniels’ moving story about how a Sarah McLaughlin song saved his life–or people with extraordinary jobs, like astronaut Michael Massino’s story of a harrowing spacewalk–but many of them are from so-called ordinary people with so-called ordinary stories, and those perhaps best represent what I love the most about the Moth. I was moved to tears by Jennifer Hixson’s story about sharing a cigarette and a story with a woman after a fight with her boyfriend, and by Ellie Lee’s story about finally realizing what an important place her father’s grocery store was for their neighborhood. I was moved to hysterical laughter by George Dawes Green’s story about his stubborn mother and their family’s historic plantation. The Moth collects stories from all walks of life, and I would recommend it to fans of the the Moth radio show as well as to any fans of well-told stories.

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