One Way to Bridge the Political Divide: Read The Book That's Not For You

Deep in my post-election funk, I found an article that was just what I needed to hear: National Public Radio's recent story about the National Book Awards and the role that reading and writing can play in reaching across the political divide. Here are excerpts:

"This year, the National Book Awards ceremony comes at a time when the nation has rarely seemed more divided. The bitter presidential campaign exposed a fault line in the United States that will not easily be repaired. And while there's no one simple answer, Lisa Lucas, head of the National Book Foundation, recommends one way to understand the other side: read.

"My life is small," she says, "and I think books are a way to make your life larger."

Reading a book, Lucas says, is a "protracted engagement" with people who are different from you personally, culturally and - perhaps most important at this moment - politically. 

"We all need to be reading across the lines we've drawn in our lives," she says. 

For her friends and colleagues in New York City, that may mean picking up one of this year's nonfiction finalists, Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana's bayou country. And Lucas wishes the people Hochschild interviewed for her book would read last year's nonfiction winner, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, about what is means to be black in America. 

She says a book is a great connector, so the next time you're looking for something to read, "don't just read the thing that you think is for you ... read the thing that's not."

Find NPR's full story here.