The USF Book Club is looking towards 2011 with the ferocity of scholars ~ we’ve picked a nonfiction title for our first selection of the new year!
We’ll read Bright-sided : how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickel and Dimed.
We’ll meet on Wednesday, January 12, 2010 from 12 noon – 1 pm in the seminar room (#209) of Gleeson Library to discuss the book. Bring your lunch and tell your friends/colleagues!
How to get the Book
Since Gleeson and many other libraries will be closed for a week-long period over the holidays, make sure to request your copy soon! You can request the book through Link+ by clicking here since our copy is checked out right now. You can also try to pick up a copy at the SF public library. Last but not least, an e-book version of Bright-Sided will be on all the iPads and Kindles we loan to patrons (on the iPads, it will be on the Amazon Kindle App).
A sharp-witted knockdown of America’s love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism Americans are a “positive” people–cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity. In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to “prosper” you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of “positive psychology” and the “science of happiness.” Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes–like mortgage defaults–contributed directly to the current economic crisis. With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of America’s penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out “negative” thoughts. On a national level, it’s brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best–poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.
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