Friday Reads: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City


“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 


We had a full house at the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club meeting this week, with some new or long absent faces mingling in with the full-timers.  Kicking off our new 6-month theme of Social Justice, we discussed Evicted:  Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.

Evicted follows the lives of eight families in Milwaukee who subsist in squalid apartments, trailer parks, homeless shelters or on friends’ couches and struggle to buy enough food and medicine to sustain themselves.  Facing eviction several times over for not being able to pay the rent, these families are caught in a vicious cycle of homelessness and joblessness, compounded by mental and physical illnesses, low education, drug abuse, sexual abuse or other tough issues.   Thoroughly researched, brilliantly written, compelling and important, Evicted presents the view of both landlords and tenants in an unbiased manner.

It is a more statistic-filled and emotionally wrenching book than our usual fare, but being primarily narrative, it was an excellent book for us to learn from and discuss the many contributors to and ramifications of eviction and poverty.  Despite some hesitancy from some members to start the book, the group got deeply involved in it and brought great comments and questions to the table.   It is a wonderful book for discussing with others as it challenges preconceived notions and introduces details most of us not in poverty probably would not be aware of.

Next month, we will discuss Just Mercy:  a story of justice and redemption by Bryan Stevenson.  If you would like to join us, pick up a copy of the book at the reference desk and come to the discussion on Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 10 AM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room.  All comments and opinions are welcome.


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