If you are in Milwaukee on November 4th, we encourage you to attend Barbara Ehrenreich’s appearance at Alverno College’s Pittman Theater at 7pm. This event is co-sponsored by Boswell Books, a local independent bookstore owned and operated by the former buyer and general manager of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, our former sister company.
Click on the link below for more details.
Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, is destined to incite debate and spark both praise and diatribe—just the way she likes it. The author of numerous books of sharp social criticism including Nickel and Dimed, in which she describes her experience trying to work in and make a living with minimum wage positions, and Bait and Switch, in which she explores just how difficult it is to succeed financially even as a typical educated middle-class American. While some may label Ehrenreich as a malcontent or a complainer, she is instead a serious scholar of America who, like a good parent, is tough on America exactly because she loves it.
Julia Baird, when writing about Ehrenreich’s new book for Newsweek, refers to Psychology Today research that claims: “[l]ast year, 4,000 books were published on happiness, up from 50 in 2000.” We need only to look around our bookshelves here at 800-CEO-READ to see that this prevalence of positivity occurs in the most current business books as well. As we described in The 100 Best, business books are problem–solvers, so of course when readers look for advice, they look for help that will bring their problems to a positive end.
Barbara Ehrenreich isn’t spreading that same message. Instead, she sends up a cautionary flag against just such irrational exuberance (to quote Jon Stewart in his interview with Ehrenreich). Positivity often distracts from what is really going on, she argues, and hard work and a realistic point of view can actually be of more benefit than putting on a happy face. Certainly she will have her detractors, but most will find that her nuanced argument (yes, nuanced, despite her ability to wield words like sledgehammers) speaks an authentic and surprisingly uplifting language.
Visit these links to see video and to read more about Bright-Sided.