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I Used to Think These Topics Were Boring

Economics, tax policy, campaign finance reform, voting rights… I used to think these topics were boring. Books on these subjects always seemed to have many pages and many footnotes, and no connection with my real life.

Now, I know these topics matter. So if you also want to understand more about any of these subjects, these titles might be a good place to start.

Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work) in Words and Pictures Michael Goodwin

Economix

I love the chronological layout and clever illustrations. If you, like me, don’t remember much from econ class (apologies to my high school teacher,) this comic book-style guide might be the refresher you need.

A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System T.R. Reid

A Fine Mess

Like most people, I’ve spent too many hours at the kitchen table filling out tax forms, so I’m glad the author of this title traveled around the world, looking for alternatives to the American tax system. The good news: many countries handle taxation more efficiently than we do. More good news: the U.S. reforms its tax system every 32 years -- and the next deadline is coming up in 2018.

Buying the Vote: a History of Campaign Finance ReformRobert E. Mutch

Buying the Vote

Should corporations have the right to free speech as though they were individual human beings? This book describes more than a century’s worth of answers to that question, leading up to the impact of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling on American politics.

The Fight to VoteMichael Waldman

The Fight to Vote

Should every human being have the right to vote? This author describes a pattern of American progress and suppression, beginning in 1787 with the Constitutional Convention. He details how, for centuries, those who wish to expand the franchise have been systematically opposed by those who want to block that expansion.

You might also enjoy Bending Toward Justice: the Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy -- Gary May and Give Us the Ballot: the Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America -- Ari Berman

The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For David G. McCullough

The American Spirit

These fifteen speeches, written across several decades, provide perspective and context for the other titles on this list.

This brief, illustrated book proves that most of American history has consisted of confusion and chaos, and that we the people have always succeeded at finding a better way through both.

Happy Reading!