This week’s Maria’s staff pick

by Jaime Cary

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, by Rebecca Solnit

I sometimes feel overwhelmed, that things are far from what they should be. With issues like women’s rights, health care, living wages, affordable housing, war and climate change, at times it seems that no matter how hard we fight, we will never get to the place that we should. Things sometimes feel desperate, like we’ve barely made a step forward, only to be forced two or three steps back.

In Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit addresses the question of why we should hope, especially when the problems we need to solve seem insurmountable. With an extensive history of activism and a depth of knowledge in environmental, cultural and political history, Solnit discusses why hope is valuable and necessary – especially when problems seem to be at their worst – and reminds us that things are never as dark as they seem. Often, things are better than they were yesterday, and change is often extremely slow.

She also talks about many of the important and underreported movements lead by activists around the world and examines why they are often successful, even when they did not “win” the day, and why they aren’t talked about much in the United States.

Solnit, who also wrote Men Explain Things to Me, A Field Guide to Getting Lost and The Faraway Nearby, among others, does all of this with masterful prose and beautiful composition. Her language pulls the reader through the book, covering a multitude of subjects (with occasional footnotes for the necessary backstory), and ties the book together extremely well.

This book is a must read for everyone. It shows us that our actions will always make a difference, even when the world is too dark to wade through, and sometimes, acting when there is no light at the end of the tunnel is the bravest thing we can do.

— Jaime Cary


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