If recent political developments have made you want to tackle deep, heavy books and engage in meaningful dialogue with other concerned citizens, come join Skylight Books’s Current Events Reading Group.

I made a new year’s resolution to be more politically engaged — which is why I decided to go to my first meeting of this book club last month. And I’m so glad I did! The conversation at this event was one of the most wide-ranging, passionate, and smart discussions I’d had about socio-political issues in a long time!

Dedicated to “reading and discussing works of nonfiction pertinent to the pressing issues of our day,” the book club’s January read was Sam Quinones’s Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic (reviewed here). Now this is a book I would never have thought to pick up on my own, but since reading it, I’ve recommended it to a bunch of friends. Dreamland is about America’s opiate epidemic, but also about so much more: the sweeping economic changes that happened in the rust belt as a result of automation and offshoring, the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of small town businessmen in Mexico, the problems of the current health care system, the Walmartization of America, the heavy impact of poorly cited and understood medical studies, the fatal consequences of shame and silence.

The Monday night of the meeting, I walked into the bookstore and joined the two dozen other people in a circle of chairs. A Skylight employee kicked off the discussion — then we talked nonstop for an hour and a half about the many current issues brought up by the book, often connecting them to related issues brought up by the recent elections.

I felt really invigorated by the discussion — and left feeling hopeful too. Obviously we didn’t actually resolve any of the world’s big problems that night, but it was really heartening to meet others who cared similarly and seriously about the current political climate — cared enough to spend a Monday evening engaging in discussion with others in their city. The meeting ended with a few people inviting others to volunteer to join the Greater L.A. Homeless Count happening this month.

I’m already looking forward to the next meeting! I’m hoping to carpool with the two other Westsiders I made last month, since the next book is an environmental one: Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

Want to join the group? Email jake@skylightbooks.com to get on the list, or just show up on the third Monday of the month at 7:30. If you buy the book at Skylight, you can get a 15% discount — just mention the Current Events Reading Group at checkout. And if you don’t finish the book by the meeting date, don’t worry; we’re just reading the first half for this month, and in any case, readers at any stage of the text are welcome.

Current Events Reading Group. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. Third Monday of every month at 7:30 pm.

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