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6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should

You’ll Never See the World the Same Way

6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels:

Brace yourself because things are about to get distressing here.

Whatever we see, we take it at face value.

A child star is performing on screen. We think wow, this kid sure is lucky.

When using smartphones, we marvel at the technological innovation of humans.

However, it’s time to question what you see.

These books will force you to confront the uncomfortable truths of our reality.

6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should

Grim and dark reality masked by posh and pomp exterior.

Have you seen iCarly?

It’s a teen sitcom that aired from 2007 to 2012.

If you have seen it, you might remember the quirky and blunt character, Sam. It was played by Jennette McCurdy.

“I’m Glad My Mom Died” is McCurdy’s memoir which was published in 2022.

McCurdy was abused by her mother from a young age. She was forced to go on diets and had to weigh herself up to 5 times a day. Her mother pushed her into acting.

“Mom pushed this on me. I’m allowed to hate someone else’s dream, even if it’s my reality.”

Having a kid of my own, my heart squeezed when I read about what McCurdy endured.

Her memoir is divided into two parts, ‘Before’ and ‘After’. It refers to the time before her mom’s death and then after.

The author doesn’t shy away from writing about the most difficult parts of her life.

“Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them?”

McCurdy discusses the effect of her mother’s abuse on her life. She struggled with eating disorders, depression, and alcoholism.

The memoir also discusses her recovery and eventual departure from acting.

After reading this, you’ll think twice before ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over a cute child star.

6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should

Algorithms are in the driving seat of your life.

Google, social media, credit score, and teaching assessments. What do all of these have in common?


The author says that big data models that use mathematics to understand people are biased. They keep rich, rich and poor, poor.

To back up her argument, she puts forth many examples. A student from a low-income neighborhood might not get the necessary student loan which can pull him out of poverty.

The controversial ‘stop and frisk’ policy means that Blacks will have earlier encounters with police. This plays a role whenever a criminal is asked about their first interaction with law enforcement.

“So to sum up, these are the three elements of a WMD: Opacity, Scale, and Damage.”

She is right. We should be wary of how the combination of policies and statistics can be used against marginalized communities.

Algorithmic models should be scrutinized for their biases and loopholes.

“A model’s blind spots reflect the judgments and priorities of its creators.”

I am a little bit on the fence with the author’s claims. Sometimes, it feels like she is blaming the algorithms for human shortcomings.

Some argue that this book is more political than mathematical. Readers also criticize her overuse of anecdotes and generalizations.

I agree with her main message though, mathematics should be our tool, not our master.

6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should

Decarbonization or dehumanization?

This book made me feel guilty for using electronics.

The dark truth is nauseating.

Cobalt is essential for making batteries that are used today. The batteries that run our smartphones, laptops, and iPads.

Around 75% of the Earth’s reserves of Cobalt are in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(Side note: There are two Congos. Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo. Both are neighbors. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the bigger one.)

“The Katanga region in the southeastern corner of the Congo holds more reserves of cobalt than the rest of the planet combined.”

The push for ‘clean energy’ has increased the demand for copper and cobalt. Modern electric vehicles need cobalt for their batteries. Cobalt has a long life and a low heating rate.

The author of this book is Siddhart Kara who researches contemporary human slavery.

“Our daily lives are powered by a human and environmental catastrophe in the Congo.”

One of his travels took him to Congo where he documented the misery of miners in Congo firsthand. The workers include underage children.

The working conditions are dastardly. The workers are underpaid, exploited, and work in miserable conditions.

The cost is human as well as environmental. The forests are being uprooted for mining ventures.

“Cobalt mining is the slave farm perfected.”

Multinational companies like Tesla, Apple, and Microsoft need the cobalt dug in Congo and refined in China.

It’s time for the world to wake up and address the human rights tragedy unfolding right under our noses.

The first step is getting to know the truth which is why you should pick up this book.

6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should

‘Birthing person’ or ‘woman’ — A battle of words.

Michael Knowles is a conservative commentator on politics.

This book explores the concept of political correctness. It also discusses the role of language in the cultural divide.

“Tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance. And openness cannot leave itself open to closed-mindedness.”

The author cites various examples, studies, and research to make his point. He dives into the history of various terms that are thrown around by political opponents.

“People who worry about microaggressions usually have never faced macroaggressions.”

Confronting the gender debate head-on, the author makes us see the contradictory language used by liberal activists.

Tackling the free speech issue, he discusses the 1989 Supreme Court decision. That decision protected the right to burn an American flag under the 1st Amendment.

But in 2019, a man was sentenced for a hate crime because he burned a rainbow flag. The writer says:

“So in fact, the government still outlaws desecration of venerated objects; it’s just that the objects of veneration are different.”

The majority of the minorities like Asia, Indians, and Hispanics reject political correctness. The rate of rejection is 82%, 87%, and 88% which is way higher than the white population.

Knowles dishes the harshest criticism on the intellectual right for failing to respond appropriately to the wave of political correctness.

Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, you’ll learn a lot from this book.

6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should

The commodification of human behavior.

For our online experiences, we depend on the silicon valley. They have all the data on us.

The author calls this overlap of economic interests and big data, “surveillance capitalism.” The tech companies monitor our click-through rate and interests. This behavioral data is raw material for corporations.

“Surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data.”

For someone like me, who is high on privacy, it is an enlightening read. Do I want someone out there with a notebook of my likes, dislikes, and interactions? Certainly not.

“Surveillance capitalism’s actual customers are the enterprises that trade in its markets for future behavior.”

This book is written in a somewhat difficult language. The subject matter however is important.

We should know where our data is going, provided the fact that we never read ‘Terms and Conditions’ before ticking ‘I agree’.

“Predictions about our behavior are Google’s products, and they are sold to its actual customers but not to us.”

Value your privacy? It’s time to read this book.

6 Books that Will Polarize You — And They Should

Human meat or historic treat.

Bill Schutt is a zoologist.

In this book, he aims to not discuss the cannibalistic monsters depicted in movies and literature.

He discusses cannibalism as part of the evolution and survival process. For that, he gives examples of many insects and animals.

“Cannibalism occurs in every class of vertebrates, from fish to mammals.”

The reasons for cannibalism vary. Some do it to eliminate competition and increase mating opportunities. Others do it due to stress and food scarcity.

The male redback spider gets eaten while it transfers sperm to a female. Male fish eat eggs while watching over them.

While I can stomach the idea that animals eat each other, it is a bit repulsive to think about humans doing the same.

The author tells us that cannibalism in humans wasn’t necessarily barbaric. Some did it after victory, others to mourn the dead.

“T’ao Tsung-yi, a writer during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), wrote that “children’s meat was the best food of all in taste” followed by women and then men.”

He also brings up historical instances and the famous case of Armin Meiwes. The author is bent on making it the fault of white colonization to make cannibalism a taboo. I disagree.

“Until relatively recently, and with a very few exceptions, cannibalism would have been regarded as anything but normal.”

There is weight in the author’s claim that Columbus and his accomplices used the ‘cannibals’ trope to enslave tribes.

While there may be rare instances of cannibalism in humans, I don’t think it is necessary to un-taboo it.

Well, if you are into gore (and puking), give this book a try.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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