Introducing: the Civic Nebraska Reading List

Summer is for reading. Let's hear about your favorite titles -- fiction or non -- that provide civic insight, inspiration, or commentary for the Civic Nebraska Reading List.

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Summer is a perfect time to catch up on reading. The days are longer, the pace is slower, and the weather is amenable for hanging out with a good book.

With that in mind — and in the spirit of our goal of creating a modern, robust democracy for all Nebraskans — we’re compiling a list of our favorite books to share for our inaugural Civic Nebraska ‘Summer of Democracy’ Reading List. A major ingredient of democracy is an engaged, informed citizenry, and such a society is powered by books. Yale historian Timothy Snyder, the author of On Tyranny and The Road to Unfreedom, goes as far to say that democracy may depend whether we can loosen the hold of TV and smartphones and read a little: “Get the screens out of your room and surround yourself with books,” he says, just like a good college professor should.

You don’t have to be a Yale historian, though, to participate in the Summer of Democracy Reading List. We’re hoping to highlight titles that are fun and funny as well as fundamental to our democracy. And we want to hear your suggestions about what should be included in our 2018 list.

Here’s how you can contribute to the Civic Nebraska Summer of Democracy Reading List:

1) Nominate a book that you believe would strengthen the list. Then, in an email, write down two or three (or four) sentences about it, explaining why it does a good job highlighting civic values, promoting how to strengthen communities, or advocating for fundamental American rights such as voting.

2) Nominate big, serious books for adults. For example, Jon Meacham’s new hardcover bestseller The Soul of America, which is about the harder times in our nation’s history that brought out the worst in us and created leaders who catered to anxiety and divisiveness. Yet each time, Meacham argues, the United States emerged stronger and overcame the fear and division of the age. There are ample lessons related to all of Civic Nebraska’s program areas — civic engagement, civic health and voting rights — throughout The Soul of America. It might just make it onto the list.

3) Nominate fun books for all ages, fiction and nonfiction alike. ​Consider that there are civic lessons in both the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, from media literacy to how ordinary people can create and lead mass movements to accomplish extraordinary things. Sharing a range of titles and genres for readers of all ages will help build engaged Nebraskans from age 6 to 106. Who knows? Maybe even some of those The Complete Idiot’s Guide to … books might be worth considering. Our point is, variety is good.

4) Already know your picks? Don’t hesitate. Email your nomination(s) to Steve Smith, Civic Nebraska’s director of communications, by 5 p.m. Friday, June 8. Please include your name and your town or city of residence. If you live outside Nebraska, let us know how you’re connected to the Cornhusker State.

Look for the complete Civic Nebraska Summer of Democracy Reading List on CivicNebraska.org by mid-June(we just hope that’s before your big summer vacation, so you can plan out your beach-reading schedule accordingly). We’ll include links to get each title in both print and ebook, whichever you might prefer. The rest is up to you. We can’t wait to see your picks!

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