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Making Sense of Us and Them

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In polarizing times, each of these books offers a step toward reconciliation, whether by giving insight into how we can hold such different beliefs from each other, or simply by helping us get past the fact that we do.

Them: Adventures with Extremists

As Jon Ronson develops personal relationships with extremists from jihadis to Klansmen, his sincerity in trying to understand the people behind the beliefs is an unlikely example of humanity. But while Ronson humanises his subjects, he manages to do so without normalising their convictions.  Them is, at heart, a work of humour, much of which comes from letting absurdity speak for itself.


In Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Sharon Salzburg offers practical steps along the path of lovingkindess or metta, the first of Buddhism's "heavenly abodes". Even if this sort of thing wouldn't usually make it onto your reading list, it might be worth considering in the current climate. After all, finding (or just reading about) a way to love and connect with all people, regardless of their beliefs, has got to be a bit of a tonic.

The Righteous Mind

In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores how our minds build our moral judgments – without our really knowing what they're up to.

Haidt offers us a chance to have a good, honest look at how we've come to embrace and defend our own convictions, and perhaps more importantly, a chance to see that those with whom we disagree are just as "moral" as we are.

Photo by Victor Lozano on Unsplash.


Katie is a reader, editor and note taker who works as a Content Writer at Bookwitty. Originally from Wisconsin, she's at home in Dublin.

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