I hope you enjoyed, We Need To Talk: A Memoir About Wealth by Jennifer Risher, the April, 2022 selection for our Facebook Book Club. If you did, maybe you’ll also like something from this list of more books that dive into the issues of wealth and class.
Maid by Stephanie Land
At 28, Stephanie Land’s plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.
Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients’ lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.
Born on Third Base by Chuck Collins
he growing wealth inequality continues to dominate headlines. The divide between the haves and have nots in America is increasingly political and tensions are rising. On one side, the wealthy wield power and advantage, keeping the system operating in their favor―all while retreating into enclaves that separate them further and further from the poor and working class. On the other side, those who find it increasingly difficult to keep up or get ahead are desperate and frustrated ―waging a rhetorical war against the rich and letting anger and resentment keep us from seeing new potential solutions.
But can we suspend both class wars long enough to consider a new way forward? Is it really good for anyone that most of society’s wealth is pooling at the very top of the wealth ladder? Does anyone, including the one percent, really want to live in a society plagued by economic apartheid?
It is time to think differently, says longtime inequality expert and activist Chuck Collins. Born into the one percent, Collins gave away his inheritance at 26 and spent the next three decades mobilizing against inequality. He uses his perspective from both sides of the divide to deliver a new narrative.
Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland
In the last few decades what it means to be rich has changed dramatically. Forget the 1%; it’s the wealthiest .01% who are fast outpacing the rest of us. Today’s colossal fortunes are amassed by the diligent toiling of smart, perceptive businessmen who see themselves as deserving victors in a cutthroat international competition.
Cracking open this tight-knit world is Chrystia Freeland, an acclaimed business journalist. At ease in Davos or Dubai, Freeland has reported on the lives and minds of these new super-elites for nearly a decade. Grounding her interviews in the economics and history of modern capitalism, she provides examples of the new wealth and its consequences. She showcases the $3 million birthday party of a New York financier months before the financial meltdown; details the closed-door 2005 SEC meeting where the US government allowed investment banks to write their own regulatory laws; and tells how the Bank of Canada’s Mark Carney became a key figure in the central battle between the plutocracy and the rest of us.
The Memo by John Bryant
True power in this world comes from economic independence. John Hope Bryant, founder and CEO of Operation HOPE, illuminates the path toward liberation that is hiding in plain sight. His message is simple: the supermajority of people around the world who live in poverty, whom Bryant calls the invisible class, haven’t gotten “the memo”-until now. Nor have many in the struggling middle class. This book is for all those who have too much month left at the end of their money. In a provocative exploration, Bryant details the inseparable connection between “inner capital” (mindset, relationships, knowledge, and spirit) and “outer capital” (financial wealth and property). “If you have inner capital,” Bryant writes, “you can never be truly poor. If you lack inner capital, all the money in the world cannot set you free.”
Building on his personal experience and his work with Operation HOPE, Bryant teaches readers five rules that lay the foundation for achieving your financial freedom. Bryant hands over the tools for empowerment by covering everything from achieving basic financial literacy to investing in positive relationships and approaching wealth with a completely new attitude. He makes this bold and controversial claim: “Once you have satisfied your basic sustenance needs-food, water, health, and a roof over your head-poverty has more to do with your head than your wallet.” The Memo is for all who are struggling and watching their dreams seep away. Bryant wants to restore readers’ “silver rights,” giving them the ability to succeed and prosper no matter what roadblocks society puts in their way.
The Moral Marketplace by Asheem Singh
Enter the world of the social entrepreneur. A global community of doers, thinkers and leaders who mix business with grass-roots activism to make social change possible. Vinod Kapur created a new breed of chicken that feeds some of the world’s poorest villagers. Betty Makoni empowers young women across Africa through her Girl Child Network. Stephen Burks connects developing world artisans with high fashion brands. They are but three. In this book, author and activist Asheem Singh explores how a movement of tiny ventures evolved into a global humanitarian and financial juggernaut, revealing new ways to fight privilege and inequality, rewire philanthropy, government and even capitalism itself. This is a guide to an exhilarating and inspiring world where, through our giving, campaigning and even through our choices as consumers, we can all play a crucial role in taking on the biggest social challenges of our time.
Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas
Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can–except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward “thought leaders” who redefine “change” in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity.
Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.