In the months since Donald Trump has become president, more and more people have become inspired to join the Resistance — whether that means volunteering, campaigning, donating, making calls, educating themselves and others on the issues, or otherwise. Bustle's 31 Days of Reading Resistance takes a look at the role of literature and writing in the Resistance, both as a source of inspiration and as a tool for action.
Mark Sundeen is the author of The Man Who Quit Money, about Daniel Suelo, who has chosen to live his life without money, and what it has done for his freedom and security. Sundeen has also co-authored North by Northwestern, about a seafaring family on deadly Alaskan waters. If it wasn't already clear that Sundeen is interesting in the human condition, and has some insights into the different ways that people choose to live, his most recent release, The Unsettlers, will cement that.
The book is all about the radical search for the simple life in modern day America. Faced with drastic increases in climate change, the rise of the One Percent, and a suffocating 24/7 work culture that seems to be keeping an entire population chained to their smart phones, it comes as no surprise that we are now, more than ever, yearning for “the simple life.” At once timely and insightful, The Unsettlers follows a diverse group of Americans — urban and rural, female and male, black and white — on their complicated quest for a simpler life in modern times, raising fascinating and subversive questions about the way we live, eat, and work. In their stories, the search for simple living is a day-to-day reality, rather than mere fantasy.
So, it's clear that Mark Sundeen is in touch with modern American life, both the good and the bad. But what does he read when he needs some resistance inspiration? Keep reading below to find out.
Sundeen says: "These original back-to-the-landers showed in the 1930s that doing-it-yourself, whether growing lettuce or tapping maple trees or building a house of local stones, isn’t some laid-back escapism but a deep boycott of the rigged economy, a way to free ourselves from the “cruder forms of exploitation: the plunder of the planet; the slavery of man and beast; the slaughter of men in war."
Mark Sundeen says: "Read in a staggering one-two punch these books suggest that the election white-lash was not an aberration but the culmination of a political system of white supremacy. For centuries white power has legalized black oppression, from slavery and the three-fifths clause, to Jim Crow and unpunished lynchings, to today’s War on Drugs and courts that permit the murder of black men, women, and children. And what prevents a real solution is white people (like me) afraid to confront our own shame about how we benefit from this system—because that would dash the cherished myth of our own innocence."
Mark Sundeen says: "The point isn’t that all women must give birth at home, but rather that hospital births have historically treated women as the property of their husbands, that the wisdom of generations of midwifes was dismissed like witchcraft by modern doctors, and that freedom begins in the body."
Mark Sundeen says: "Perhaps a theological contemplation of whether time moves in a line or a circle does not strike you as a call to action. But Deloria, who was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, chips away at the Judeo-Christian beliefs by which “the peoples of Western Europe became the guardians of the world.” Now with those God-fearing transplants from Europe hell-bent on stripping the planet of its life (gutting the EPA, ditching the Paris climate accord), Deloria’s brand of nature-based Native religion might be the only thing that can save us."
Follow along all month long for more Reading Resistance book recommendations.