The Endless Summer of Our Discontent

Charlottesville trended more than corn-on-the-cob on Twitter. The Affordable Care Act bounced around the Congress like a beach ball. The Mooch begat endless memes on Facebook. Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill captured more than 20 million viewers on TV and online — more than watched the “Game of Thrones” season seven premiere. The President pointed fingers. His opponents pointed fingers. Everyone was hot and tired. Thankfully toward the end of summer, the eclipse flared some hopeful light. But then came Harvey with everyone drowning, literally in Houston, and figuratively everywhere else.

The summer of 2017 was the endless summer of our discontent.

What should we have done over the summer? Read a book of fiction on a hot-button topic and had a meaningful conversation on immigration, race, gender, sexuality, or class. That book and conversation could have helped us understand why our summer was so heated with hand wringing, name calling, and tweet wars. Instead, the summer was lost amid anger, mistrust, and confusion.

We have a do-over for the summer of 2017 and that’s this fall. The Fiction Project invites you to read a few books and have a conversation. We have reading lists, discussion guides, and concrete ways that you and your reading partner can get a tad closer to talking in a way that is not accusatory, explosive, or full of dread. Fiction books, along with their characters and plots, provide a way to spark a sane and helpful conversation that will more than likely leave you, wait for it…happy.

We’re looking for 100 people to participate by leaving behind the summer of our endless discontent and having an autumn of endless conversations.

Hiya — If you’ve read this far, that probably means you love a good book. Pick up a classic such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or the satire Breakfast of Champions, or the contemporary popular novel Big Little Lies and have a meaningful conversation about them with someone who may not exactly share your viewpoint. It’ll make you happy in a strange, inexplicable kind of way.