Sell the TV and Read

If I am opinionated, these are my teachers.

If I am opinionated, these are my teachers.

katharineotto’s recommended reading so far

October 10, 2015–CURRENT READFDR, Jean Edward Smith, 2007

Independent Study of Literature, History, Culture, Medicine, Economics, Politics, and Philosophy
As of October, 2015

History, Economics, and Politics

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson and committee

United States Constitution, ratified in 1788-1790 by 13 states. Many authors.

The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 1776

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, 1771-1790

The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, 1821

Washington: The Indispensible Man, James Thomas Flexner, 1969, 1973, 1974

Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow, 2004

Thomas Jefferson: A Life, William Sterne Randall, 1993

The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an

Unnecessary War, by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, 2002, 2003

A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, Howard Zinn, 1980-2003

The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve,

G. Edward Griffin, 1994-2007 (

The Robber Barons, Matthew Josephson, 1934, 1962

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, 2004

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, A collection of essays by Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan,

Nathaniel Branden, and Robert Hessen, 1946-1967

Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman, 1962, 1982, and 2002

Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis,

William Bonner and Addison Wiggin, 2006

None Dare Call It Conspiracy, Gary Allen, with Larry Abraham, 1971

A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America’s Destiny, Patrick J. Buchanan, 1999

Why Government Doesn’t Work, Harry Browne, 1995

The Fair Tax Book, Neal Boortz and US Rep John Linder (R-GA) (Not.)

Supercapitalism, Robert B. Reich, 2007

The Waste Makers, Vance Packard, 1960

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter, 2006

Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas, Ken Foskett, 2004

The Water Lords: Ralph Nader’s Study Group Report on Industry and

Environmental Crisis in Savannah, Georgia, James M. Fallows, 1971

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, Susan Freinkel, 2011

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,

Eduardo Galeano, 1973, 1997

Cuba: A New History, Richard Gott, 2004

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, Jung Chang, 1991

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli, written 1513, published 1532


Overdo$ed America, John Abramson, MD, 2004

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How they Deceive Us and What to Do About It,

Marcia Angell, MD, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of

Medicine, 2004, 2005

Philosophy and Memoirs

My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell, 1956

Cheaper by the Dozen, Frank. B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, 1948, 2002

Tales From the Time Loop, David Icke, 2003

Rats, Lice and History: The Biography of a Bacillus, A Bacteriologist’s Classic Study of    a World Scourge, Hans Zinsser, 1934

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond, 2005

A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut, 2005

Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 1854


Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Lost World, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1912

Life of Pi, Yann Martel, 2002

The Kitchen God’s Wife, Amy Tan, 1991

Empire Falls, Richard Russo, 2001

Moby Dick, Herman Melville, 1851

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1947

Uhuru, A Novel of Africa Today, Robert Ruark, 1962

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith, 1943

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, 1906

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, 1937

The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1868-1869

1984, George Orwell, 1949

Animal Farm, George Orwell, 1946

Oil!, Upton Sinclair, 1926

All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren, 1946

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

The Octopus, Frank Norris, 1901

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck, 1931

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, 1952

Remembrance Rock, Carl Sandburg, 1948

The Island of Dr. Moreau, HG Wells, 1896

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953


Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions, Edwin A. Abbott, 1884

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl, 1959

The Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra, 1975

The “Unknown” Reality, Jane Roberts (A Seth Book), 1979

Put your taxes to work. Use your public library.

14 thoughts on “Sell the TV and Read

  1. Gordon Montgomery

    Thanks, Katharine. Perhaps I’ll speed read all of these this weekend! Gordon M

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. katharineotto Post author

      It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have a television. Electronic media hurts my ears. Even the computer drains me after awhile.

      The computer is hard on people’s eyes, too, especially old people like me. Give me a good book any day, for the peace and quiet of unhurried exploration of the greatest minds in history.

      That book list is only the short list. I try to keep it to two printed pages, but I update it continually, adding new stuff and bumping something else.

      Right now, I’m reading FDR, by Jean Edward Smith. Smith does excellent research and seems pretty objective.

      I’d like to read Ann Beattie’s new collection of short stories. I’ve liked her in the past.

      You mentioned in a previous blog that you prefer nonfiction. What are your special interests?

  2. feistyfroggy

    I have very eclectic reading habits. That’s one reason I decided to start at 000 and go from there. I tend to gravitate to family oriented and home issues. I have many varied interests though and enjoy the wide variety of nonfiction. I’ve noticed you like a lot of politcal science.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Lately I’ve become obsessed with American History and the precedents set in early America for events today.

      For some reason, I suspected the family slant. I have offered to conduct a family-oriented reading circle at the local library, but librarians are wishy washy about it, and I have plenty of other things to do. However, these are books I believe families might enjoy reading together: Top choice is My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durell. True and laugh-out-loud funny. Author is Lawrence Durell’s brother.

      Cheaper by the Dozen, The Lost World, and The Chronicles of Narnia. I also liked The Hobbit but never finished the Lord of the Rings series. The books are always better than the movies. I’d be curious about what books your readers recommend for families.

  3. feistyfroggy

    I don’t know anything about your library, but here your idea of a group would be welcomed. However, it would be an unpaid group. We actually have nice meeting spaces which are used for both meetings and/or parties that are patron generated and actual library programs that are library generated. If your group is a nonprofit (such as yours sounds like), the meeting room would be free. Our library is very family friendly.

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Space is all you need to offer. Keep the lights on and pay a trusted staff member (or rotating members) to chaperone Families’ Reading night.

      Staff or parents (or interested public) would all have opportunities to lead a volunteer group, as for a book they especially like.

      Said staff member could make sure everyone is safe and warm. Families could bring their own blankets and pillows for young children to sleep, and the group could choose their own books, read as a group, and ask for community fun raisers to buy books for the participating families.

      If you can provide food, that’s always a draw. Easy, nutritious food, like apples and bananas, will go a long way toward quieting fussy children and their fathers. People could bring their own. Staff member would be responsible for making sure everyone gets out at meeting’s end, but only after they’ve helped clean up the place so staff won’t have to do it. Pack out their own trash, and all that. Then staff member locks up and kisses all the kids goodnight (if they want to be kissed, that is).

      The public needs to make better use of public land. Schools and libraries could do much more for so much less, if they made use of the space at night.

      I have a friend, Mark, in the local library, who likes my ideas. I will put him in touch with you, and see if we can collaborate on a North-South initiative to educate the public by making valuable (untaxed) use of free time.

      I volunteer to do a book review blog on your site (your choice of book, family oriented), and maybe the Chatham-Effingham Regional Library could contribute ideas or do their own blog.

  4. feistyfroggy

    I will run your idea of a collaborative North-South initiative by our Director. I think he would be open to such a thing. I will follow up with you in a few days.

    We actually already do have book discussion groups in place, however, we don’t actually have a family reading group per se. We have adult groups, as well as “storytime” for children. The children come with a family member and/or a school class. We’ve done “lapsits” in which a child gets to sit in the lap of a family member and be read to. (We are also fortunate to have an excellent Literacy program housed in our building which works with all families and provided free books for all children in the community as well as working with adults to improve reading skills.)

    As far as offering books to various participants, we would use our Evergreen system. If the group were reading Charlotte’s Web for example, we would simply order all the copies from various libraries around the state until we had enough.

    Food is allowed in our meeting rooms and we also have a small kitchen where food can be prepared. The kitchen has everything except for an actual stove. Most often groups use crockpots and other types of food servers. Groups often choose catered or pitch in style meals. Food can be brought in by patrons, but our library can’t actually buy food with library funds. Sometimes there is a work around when the Friends of the Library buy food for us.

    Our meeting rooms have specific hours and rules which our patrons are quite familiar with so we generally don’t have issues with people not cleaning up or leaving on time in the evening. On occassion we have after hours events, but those are always library sponsored or special circumstances.

    Unfortunately and for legal reasons our staff can’t kiss children, but I do understand the sentiment. 🙂

    Here it’s a little different than what you are describing, but we are always looking for new ideas. Yes, please feel free to have your friend Mark Contact us. .

    I will also run your idea of doing a book review by our Director.

  5. feistyfroggy

    The Director has already responded. Here is what he said:

    “What a neat idea. I would love for someone to champion such a relationship and start such a club here. I love the idea of partnering with one of our Southern compatriots. Keep me posted.”

    1. katharineotto Post author

      Dear Feisty Froggy,

      Great. I’ll talk to Mark at our local library and see what we can arrange. Will ask him to tap into your blog and communicate directly. Give me a few days.

      In the meantime, let’s poll people via this blog for recommendations of good family books. We can start working on a list of recommendations.

      I’m a loud-mouthed member of the local Senior Citizens’ political discussion group. We have several doctors among us, one a pediatrician. His biggest issue is early childhood education. We agree on that, but not on the method, because I want to involve the public as much as possible in decisions that affect them. Reading is crucial, and getting families involved in a fun, informal way, will do more good than all the money Washington can throw our way.

      These are talking points you might like: I told our group members that many parents are illiterate, themselves, but are ashamed to admit it. People are more ashamed of not being able to read and write than about anything, including drugs or alcohol. So they pretend indifference or act out to cover for the deficiency. Getting them involved in family reading will allow them to learn without pressure or embarrassment. Simple foods without packaging, like apples, bananas, or nuts in reusable containers will give parents even more reason to come.

      Finally, transportation is a major problem for middle and lower income people, so the more family members you can pile in the car, the easier it is on everybody.

      Hope this helps. Looking forward to directing others to this blog.


  6. katharineotto Post author


    A couple more thoughts based on your response. I agree with not kissing the children. Bad boundaries.

    I’m also aware the Powers That Be do not allow libraries to use their money to serve food. I understand the need for it, because there are so many hungry people, and you can barely afford books (if you’re like the Savannah library). However, there may be ways around this general policy, such as the following:

    I believe good nutrition is essential to education and health. Who can concentrate on reading when stomachs are growling? If people had better diets, we wouldn’t see so much crime. Desperation drives a lot of violence. Also, where are parents going to learn about good nutrition? TV certainly won’t teach them. I believe you have to show them, with simple, inexpensive, tangible, non-messy treats like apples, bananas and nuts. Once you model healthy behavior, those who want to follow your example can do it.

    Could we get around the food issue by asking participants to donate spare change or bring their own healthy favorites to share? Pack out their own trash. Imagine how much money they would save on fast food, if you provide alternatives. Also, it’s a great obesity-prevention strategy. If participants want the program to continue, they can show their support with token donations and feel good about giving something back.

    Just putting the idea out there to see what others think.


  7. katharineotto Post author


    Great. We’re off and running. Now, here’s my October idea. I am volunteering for the first time October 24 (but may change to Saturday) on the Habitat for Humanity local construction site. I’m very proud of Jimmy Carter for what he’s done for Georgia, and I’d like to pay tribute, now that he has cancer and may not be with us much longer.

    I plan to offer Habitat my help that morning bringing food in. That would be peanut butter and bananas, with volunteers making specialty breads for sandwiches. Clear it with the Health Department, and voila, we have taxpayers making better use of taxpayer money. Please pass it on, if you think it’s a good idea. Our north-south partnership is looking more promising all the time.


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