by Laura Hutson
[Editor's Note: For everybody who considers experimental and electronics-based art a bunch of mindless noise, I'd like to offer Tony Youngblood's highbrow selection of books he'd suggest any burgeoning artist should read. This is heavy stuff, which helps inform the artist's work, carving its place into the cultural landscape like Teddy Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore.]
• The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
Legal scholar and Vanderbilt University alumna Michelle Alexander delivers a powerful critique against the U.S. criminal justice system, which disproportionately targets black men and serves as a new system of racial control. In the three years since its publication, this watershed book has reshaped the American dialogue on issues like "Stop and Frisk" and "Stand Your Ground" laws. It's the Silent Spring of criminal justice writing.
If you loved Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, you'll delight in just how closely Lancaster Dodd resembles Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard. Inside Scientology is fascinating, meticulously researched and infuriating. Truth be told, I'm a little scared to include this pick. Since reading it, every time I pass the Church of Scientology of Celebrity Centre on Eighth Avenue South, I'm filled with a sense impeding dread. Please don't sue me!
Although this was published before Kim Jong-il's death and his son Kim Jong-un's succession to the throne, Nothing to Envy remains one of the best reports of modern life in North Korea. You'll be shocked. You'll be heartbroken. With increasing nuclear tensions, this book is required reading.
Finally, a Civil War book that ditches dry statistics like how many muskets, cannonballs and casualties there were. 1861 is about people. After reading this, I was compelled to tour Fort Negley and other area Civil War sites.
Historians may dispute which U.S. president was the greatest, the most ineffectual, the biggest villain; but everyone agrees on the title-holder of Most Badass. No contest. Teddy Roosevelt. Read this book, and you'll find out why.
If you enjoy books about cognitive bias like Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Black Swan, Supersense, and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), then you'll love what I consider to be the most comprehensive and entertaining of them all: The Invisible Gorilla, written by the creators of the famous psychology experiment. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go to YouTube and search for "selective attention test," and prepare to be amazed.