Whether you agree with this government shutdown or not, you cannot deny that you need a reading list of books to ease the stress away. Here are 12 books that the Brooklyn Public Library recommended we read during this infamous shutdown with their Amazon synopsis included:
1. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea by Duncan Dayton
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America’s national parks spring from an idea as radical as the Declaration of Independence: that the nation’s most magnificent and sacred places should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. In this evocative and lavishly illustrated narrative, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan delve into the history of the park idea, from the first sighting by white men in 1851 of the valley that would become Yosemite and the creation of the world’s first national park at Yellowstone in 1872, through the most recent additions to a system that now encompasses nearly four hundred sites and 84 million acres.
The authors recount the adventures, mythmaking, and intense political battles behind the evolution of the park system, and the enduring ideals that fostered its growth. They capture the importance and splendors of the individual parks: from Haleakala in Hawaii to Acadia in Maine, from Denali in Alaska to the Everglades in Florida, from Glacier in Montana to Big Bend in Texas. And they introduce us to a diverse cast of compelling characters—both unsung heroes and famous figures such as John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ansel Adams—who have been transformed by these special places and committed themselves to saving them from destruction so that the rest of us could be transformed as well.
The National Parks is a glorious celebration of an essential expression of American democracy.
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A longtime backpacker, climber, and skier, Michael Lanza knows our national parks like the back of his hand. As a father, he hopes to share these special places with his two young children. But he has seen firsthand the changes wrought by the warming climate and understands what lies ahead: Alaska’s tidewater glaciers are rapidly retreating, and the abundant sea life in their shadow departs with them. Encroaching tides threaten beloved wilderness coasts like Washington’s Olympic and Florida’s Everglades. Less snowfall and hotter summers will diminish Yosemite’s world-famous waterfalls. And it is predicted that Glacier National Park’s 7,000-year-old glaciers will be gone in a decade.
To Lanza, it feels like the house he grew up in is being looted. Painfully aware of the ecological—and spiritual—calamity that global warming will bring to our nation’s parks, Lanza sets out to show his children these wonders before they have changed forever.
He takes his nine-year-old son, Nate, and seven-year-old daughter, Alex, on an ambitious journey to see as many climate-threatened wild places as he can fit into a year: backpacking in the Grand Canyon, Glacier, the North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and along the wild Olympic coast; sea kayaking in Alaska’s Glacier Bay; hiking to Yosemite’s waterfalls; rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park; cross-country skiing in Yellowstone; and canoeing in the Everglades.
Through these poignant and humorous adventures, Lanza shares the beauty of each place and shows how his children connect with nature when given “unscripted” time. Ultimately, he writes, this is more their story than his, for whatever comes of our changing world, they are the ones who will live in it.
3. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
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The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968). Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities. Many readers were most concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, based on an investigation he did for a socialist newspaper. The book depicts working class poverty, the lack of social supports, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and a hopelessness among many workers. These elements are contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. A review by the writer Jack London called it, “the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.” Sinclair was considered a muckraker, or journalist who exposed corruption in government and business. He first published the novel in serial form in 1905 in the Socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, between February 25, 1905, and November 4, 1905. In 1904, Sinclair had spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards for the newspaper. It was published as a book on February 26, 1906 by Doubleday and in a subscribers’ edition.
4. Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security by Edmund S. Hawley
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We’re all familiar with the TSA by now―from the daunting lines to the X-ray machines to the curious three ounce rule governing liquids. But many question whether this strange assortment of regulations, meant to protect the two million people a day travelling through US airports, actually works. In this riveting exposé, former TSA administrator Kip Hawley unveils the agency’s ongoing battle to outthink and outmaneuver terrorists, navigating bureaucratic limitations and public disdain to stay one step ahead of catastrophe. Citing foiled terrorist plots and near misses that have never been publicly revealed, Hawley suggests that the fundamental flaw in America’s approach to national security is the belief that we can plan for every contingency. Instead, he argues, we must learn to manage reasonable levels of risk so we can focus our near-term energy on stopping truly catastrophic events while, in the long-term, engaging passengers to support a less rigid and more sustainable security strategy. This is a fascinating glimpse inside one of the country’s most maligned agencies and the complex business of keeping Americans safe every day.
5. Accidental Heroes by Danielle Steel
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On a beautiful May morning at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, two planes have just departed for San Francisco—one a 757, another a smaller Airbus A321. At a security checkpoint, TSA agent Bernice Adams finds a postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge bearing an ambiguous—perhaps ominous—message. Her supervisor dismisses her concerns, but Bernice calls security and soon Ben Waterman arrives. A senior Homeland Security agent, still grappling with guilt after a disastrous operation in which hostages were killed, Ben too becomes suspicious. Who left the postcard behind, which flight is that person on, and what exactly does the message mean?
As Ben scans the passenger manifests, his focus turns to the A321, with Helen Smith as its senior pilot. Helen’s military service and her tenure with the airline have been exemplary. But her husband’s savage death in Iraq was more than anyone should bear, leaving her widowed with three children. A major film star is on board. So is an off-duty pilot who has just lost his forty-year career. So is a distraught father, traveling with the baby son he has abducted from his estranged wife. Sifting through data and relying on instinct, Ben becomes convinced that someone on Helen’s plane is planning something terrible. And he’s right. Passengers, crew, and experts on the ground become heroes out of necessity to try to avert tragedy at the eleventh hour.
In her stunning novel, Danielle Steel combines intense action with stories of emotionally rich, intertwined lives. As the jet bears down on its destination of San Francisco, strangers are united, desperate choices are made, and futures will be changed forever by a handful of accidental heroes.
6. Environmental Protection: What Everyone Needs to Know by Pamela Hill
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Although climate change and pollution make near-daily appearances in the news, humans have not always recognized that the environment needs to be protected. Only after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 did environmental protection became a political and social priority.
In Environmental Protection: What Everyone Needs to Know®, environmental lawyer Pamela Hill offers clear, engaging answers to some of the most pressing questions facing us today. She discusses the science behind current environmental issues, defining key terms such as ecosystems, pollutants, and endocrine disruptors. Hill explains why our environment needs protection, using examples from history and current events, from the Irish potato famine to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. She also assesses the effectiveness of landmark laws and treaties, including the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Kyoto Protocol.
To what extent is it acceptable to rank human interests over ecological interests? And is it fair to ask developing countries to reduce emissions, even though they bear little responsibility for our current environmental problems? Hill identifies the greatest environmental threats we are facing today and suggests what we need to do as citizens, businesspeople, and lawmakers to protect the environment for each other and for future generations.
7. Guaranteed to Fail: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Debacle of Mortgage Finance by Viral V. Acharya, Matthew Richardso, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, Lawerence J. White
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The financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008 led to one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in history. The bailout has already cost American taxpayers close to $150 billion, and substantially more will be needed. The U.S. economy–and by extension, the global financial system–has a lot riding on Fannie and Freddie. They cannot fail, yet that is precisely what these mortgage giants are guaranteed to do. How can we limit the damage to our economy, and avoid making the same mistakes in the future?
Guaranteed to Fail explains how poorly designed government guarantees for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to the debacle of mortgage finance in the United States, weighs different reform proposals, and provides sensible, practical recommendations. Despite repeated calls for tougher action, Washington has expanded the scope of its guarantees to Fannie and Freddie, fueling more and more housing and mortgages all across the economy–and putting all of us at risk. This book unravels the dizzyingly immense, highly interconnected businesses of Fannie and Freddie. It proposes a unique model of reform that emphasizes public-private partnership, one that can serve as a blueprint for better organizing and managing government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In doing so, Guaranteed to Fail strikes a cautionary note about excessive government intervention in markets.
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The Transformation of Wall Street is a comprehensive and insightful historical analysis of the Securities & Exchange Commission from the perspective of a leader in securities regulation. The Transformation of Wall Streetoffers an in-depth look at the history of the SEC’s origins, accomplishments, and failings since its creation in 1934. Each chapter in the book takes historical look at the tenure of the various SEC chairmen. The first edition, published in 1977, covered the SEC through the Nixon-Ford presidential administration. A revised edition was published in 1995, updating the book through 1992. Now, the third edition continues the history until 2001, the end of Arthur Levitt’s Chairmanship, with a treatment of auditing issues through the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (July 2002). In this revised edition, author Joel Seligman draws on unpublished SEC files and extensive personal interviews to provide a comprehensive examination of the origins, accomplishments, and failings of the SEC and its leaders, from the creation of the SEC in 1934 to the present. The new material, among other things, addresses:
- The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which has had a significant impact on private securities litigation after its passage in 1995
- The structure of the securities markets (which are in an important transition because of Electronic Communications Networks; decimalization; international competition; and the continuing evolution to greater institutionalization of our markets as well as the growth of several new products, most recently security futures products)
- Municipal securities markets (which were largely ignored before the recently resigned Arthur Levitt)
- Several issues with respect to the accounting profession (most notably auditor independence and the independence of accounting standard-setting boards). In addition, this work focuses on Chairman Levitt, whom the author believes was one of the most accomplished of the post World War II chairs, and had the challenge of being a Chair appointed by a Democratic party president during a period when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress as well as a period of extraordinary ferment in the securities market.
9. No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos
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Harry Markopolos and his team of financial sleuths discuss first-hand how they cracked the Madoff Ponzi scheme
No One Would Listen is the thrilling story of how the Harry Markopolos, a little-known number cruncher from a Boston equity derivatives firm, and his investigative team uncovered Bernie Madoff’s scam years before it made headlines, and how they desperately tried to warn the government, the industry, and the financial press.
Page by page, Markopolos details his pursuit of the greatest financial criminal in history, and reveals the massive fraud, governmental incompetence, and criminal collusion that has changed thousands of lives forever-as well as the world’s financial system.
- The only book to tell the story of Madoff’s scam and the SEC’s failings by those who saw both first hand
- Describes how Madoff was enabled by investors and fiduciaries alike
- Discusses how the SEC missed the red flags raised by Markopolos
Despite repeated written and verbal warnings to the SEC by Harry Markopolos, Bernie Madoff was allowed to continue his operations. No One Would Listen paints a vivid portrait of Markopolos and his determined team of financial sleuths, and what impact Madoff’s scam will have on financial markets and regulation for decades to come.
10. J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2019: For Preparing Your 2018 Tax Return by J.K. Lasser Institute
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J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2019 is the nation’s most trusted tax guide, updated to help you prepare your 2018 return. Step-by-step expert guidance walks you through the forms, calculations, and deadlines to help you file your taxes without the headaches. New changes including tax laws, IRS rulings, court decisions, and more are explained in plain English, backed by examples of how they apply to individual taxpayers like yourself. Explore your options in terms of deductions, income shelters, and planning strategies to maximize your savings and keep more of your money—without wading through volumes of dense tax code. This comprehensive yet accessible guide is your handbook for making your tax filing for 2018 easier than you thought possible.
Tax time does not have to be a source of stress and anxiety. With the experts at J.K. Lasser by your side, you can file correctly and on time while paying less than you thought; this book shows you everything you need to know, and gives you the answers you need right at your fingertips.
- Learn how the latest changes from the IRS affect your return
- Get trusted advice for maximizing deductions and sheltering income
- Navigate the many IRS forms with step-by-step guidance
- Start planning now to streamline next year’s filing
Keeping up with ever-changing tax laws is a full-time job, decoding incomprehensible IRS forms can be an exercise in frustration, and searching for the answers you need can often leave you with more questions. Americans have been turning to J.K. Lasser for over 75 years to find trusted guidance on critical tax issues. J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2019 is this year’s essential guide to taking the stress out of tax time.
11. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
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The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.
The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace’s death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions–questions of life’s meaning and of the value of work and society–through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace’s unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.
12. Smithsonian Treasures of American History by Kathleen M. Kendrick
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The National Museum of American History–our country’s largest history museum and one of the Smithsonian’s most visited–preserves three million objects that capture the American story. From this vast collection, curators have handpicked more than 150 of the Museum’s most valued and amazing treasures–from the hat Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated to Jacqueline Kennedy’s inaugural gown and Dorothy’s ruby slippers; from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to Edison’s light bulb and Albert Einstein’s pipe; from an early box of Crayolas to one of the oldest pairs of Levi’s. Four separate sections devoted to “Creativity and Innovation,” “American Biography,” “National Challenges,” and “American Identity” reveal fascinating juxtapositions and startling connections on every page. This visual cornucopia of the material culture of American history reveals the familiar, the famous, and the unexpected at every turn.
This may be the longest government shutdown in history, but you have all the time in the world to try these books out!