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Keep Reading America!


I have always liked Michael Moore. When I saw Roger and Me when I was seventeen, I was amazed by how smart, funny and sad it was. I loved his TV show TV Nation and when he came to Berkeley, I went to hear him read twice and I have two signed books by him. I agree with a lot he says.

            However, he's saying that people shouldn't be reading right now. What we should be doing is working for a campaign to make sure that Senator McCain doesn't get elected. We don't have time to read, the sky is falling, we have to do something.  We don't have much time, he says, to spend it reading. Not even his new book, a political guide.

            Okay Michael, I have to disagree with you here. While I do agree that we need a change of leadership in this country, and you better believe I'll be there that first Tuesday in November to vote for Senator Obama. However, to stop reading?  Sorry dude can't do it.

            Reading to me is my way to have a little revolution. It is to tell people that I read and I try to figure out what is going on in the world. I read to find my way, to relax and hear a good story.

            Lately I've been reading Erma Bombeck. Some people have compared my writing to hers and at first, I felt: Oh, great, Erma Bombeck? The lady who always talks about her kids? However reading her this summer has given me a new respect for her, for she was so ahead of her time in so many ways. Writing about the mother who always fell short, the mother who didn't have time to wash her windows. I miss Erma Bombeck, because I wonder what she would think of GPS systems, MILF's, yummy mommies. She probably would've raised her eyebrows and gotten lost anyway, even with a spiffy new GPS system. Reading Bombeck also reminds me that the political is personal-figuring out the politics at home is a piece of cake compared to today's politics.

            If I had to recommend books for politicians to read, here are some of the books I recommend:

            Eva-Mary by Linda McCarriston: Linda McCarriston lived in an abusive home because of her alcoholic father. One time her mother tried to get a divorce, but the judge refused, saying her place was with her husband. They had to go back to an abusive home where McCarriston became a victim of incest. How she survived and wrote poetry about it, I don't know. What I do know is if people want to blame feminists for how bad things have gotten, read the poems of Linda McCarriston and then see how honky-dory it was back then.

            A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: One of my favorite, if not my favorite novel about Francie Nolan, a girl who grows up in poverty in Brooklyn, yet it does not dampen her spirit. Thousands of children grow up in poverty like Francie, but many of them have their spirits trampled on and don't grow like she does.

            To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Another of my favorite novels-to learn how to be brave and to do the right thing, read when Scout talks to Mr. Cunningham (or watch it in my media)

            Up The Down Staircase, by Bel Kaufman: This book came out forty-five years ago yet is still timely about Sylvia Barrett, the young teacher trying to teach the inner city teenagers. Do you realize that not much has changed and teachers are still facing book shortages, high dropout rates?  If that is not sad, I don't know what is.

            Blubber by Judy Blume: If you thought Ann Coulter or Laura Ingram was mean, they never met Wendy, the mean girl who teases poor Linda Fischer about being fat throughout the book, making her eat a chocolate covered ant that makes Linda throw up, tripping her in class, and all sorts of mean things. This is where it starts, public servants, in the schools, so you had better start paying attention.

            The Higher Power of Lucky, Susan Patron: This caused a big scandal last year because the first page had the word scrotum. I read beyond the first page and found a bittersweet story about a child named Lucky worrying she'll go in a foster home because her foster mother might leave her. All the fuss about one word, yet no one raised one objection about the fact a child, like many children in America, was scared she would go into foster care, or the fact her father pretty much abandoned her. I'm glad we have our priorities straight.

            All the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling: Not because we need to know Dumbledore is gay and Harry getting together with Ginny Weasley, but let's remember the story behind the books. J.K. Rowling was a mother on welfare while writing the first book, taking care of her infant daughter. Although she would say that the story was exaggerated a bit and "things weren't that bad" it gave her compassion for others. If politicians gain more compassion, it would be a good thing.

            The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers: Campbell and Moyers rule. Learn about journeys and myths. Plus it was edited by Jacqueline Onassis. I mean, you have to read a book edited  by a first lady, right?

            There's plenty of books I'm missing, but I think I made my point. Michael my friend, asking people to stop reading is like asking us to stop breathing. We need to read in order to keep going, keep moving. We'll always fight the good fight. We'll just do it with a book in our hand.