Saturday Selects: The Ban

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write that fall outside the general bookish theme of the blog.

Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday banning immigrants and refugees from seven countries. Syria. Iran. Iraq. Libya. Somalia. Yemen. Sudan. He’s done this under the guise of national security, claiming that this action is meant to protect us from terrorists. But it has been widely reported by multiple reputable news outlets that no attack carried out on US soil since 9/11 involved someone from any of the countries.

Makes you wonder what the hell is actually going on, right? If we’re banning people from our lands under a false pretense, then what’s the real reason for the ban? I’ll tell you, but I think you already know. One of Donald Trump’s major campaign promises was some form of a ban on Muslims entering the country. He’s making good on that promise.

The United States has failed all refugees. We have resources and the ability to take in many refugees, but we don’t. “The greatest country in the world” has all but refused to lend its hand to refugees all over the world. Refugees are escaping war, persecution, and tyrannical governments. Are these not the people we want to stand up for? Are we content just standing on the sidelines as the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe only worsens? Is this really the American way?

Donald Trump is not putting America first, as he likes to say. He’s putting America on an island while the rest of the world backs away from us.

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Roxane Gay Pulls Book From Simon & Schuster

Roxane Gay is a bestselling author you may have heard of. She did something recently I can only respect and applaud. She has a book forthcoming through Simon & Schuster, as does Milo Yiannopoulos.

I understand there’s a real chance you’re unfamiliar with either name. Milo is a leader of the alt-right. Just think of extreme, extreme conservativism. The group had no issue with any of Trump’s remarks heading into election day.

So as Roxane Gay was preparing to send off her book to be published later this year, she didn’t. She held on to it rather than send it off to a publisher willing to give Milo a larger platform for hate speech. Her words not mine. She’s not the only one with concerns. Other authors forced Simon & Schuster to release a statement on the publishing deal inked with Milo Yiannopoulos, but as of yet no one else has taken the action to pull their book from the publisher.

We all know people can say and do whatever they want to. That’s not what this is about. It’s about the platform being offered. At some point someone along the line has to say enough is enough. That they respect his right to his opinions, but the company believes there to be a better fit for his voice elsewhere.

Instead they reportedly gave him a $200k advance. Simon & Schuster dropped the ball. And now they’re paying the price.

Stand up for what you believe in just like Roxane Gay and Milo Yiannopoulos. We all should. But the United States is no place for hate.

An Unlikely Bestseller

Becoming a bestseller is not an exact science. Sometimes Oprah will mention a book and sales skyrocket. Or an adaptation causes a surge. But what about a book published decades before that sells well throughout each and every year? Not bestseller well, but well enough to require reprints fairly often. You know the books I’m talking about. Classics widely read in classrooms all over the country.

It turns out that current events can also cause a book to jump off shelves if people believe it may have some resemblance to what’s going on in the real world. Enter 1984. It’s the top selling book on Amazon right now because many believe we might be entering a world not much different from what Orwell describes in the book.

I’ve read it. But I think a reread may be in order. Perhaps I’ll take a page from Kellyanne Conway and start using alternative facts to describe things.

Have you read Orwell’s 20th century Classic? See any resemblance to what’s happening right now?

The #WomensMarch

An idea started by just a handful of women after the election of Donald Trump turned into something far greater than anyone could have imagined.

Citizens across the country marched yesterday in defiance of Donald Trump. It was an unprecedented moment in American history. One I’m glad I was here to see. There’s never been this level of opposition to an incoming President in history.

One of my favorite moments of the day came when Senator Kamala Harris made it very clear that women’s issues are the same issues we discuss and debate all the time. The most incredible thing I saw yesterday was in LA. Organizers there expected 80k people to take part in their march. 750k people showed up!

Some try to deligitimize the concerns of women, but yesterday showed me what can happen when people don’t just talk about coming together but actually do it. I’m immensely proud to be American, yesterday was no exception.

I chose not to pick and choose which images of marches around the world to show you because my guess is you’ve seen them. A simple search on Twitter or Google will show you all you need to see.

I’ll get back to talking about books tomorrow. I could not pass up the opportunity to discuss the events of yesterday.

When Reading Becomes Presidential

We’re in the midst of a presidential transition. If recent history holds, we’ll soon be getting books from both the outgoing and incoming presidents.

The Office of the President of the United States is respected by every nation on earth. Respected doesn’t mean friendly. Only 44 men (I know we’ll elect a woman soon!) have held the highest office in the nation. The US is currently a country with a population nearing 350 million. Still, only 44.

So one could say there’s an exclusive book club that you can’t just join. You have to be voted in by tens of millions of people. I’ve still never read a book written by a president, but that changes this year. It’s a requirement for my reading challenge!

What’s the best book written by a president you’ve read?

Saturday Selects: My Letter to President Obama

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write that fall outside the general bookish theme of the blog. This is the first of 2017.


Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States next week. So I did what I believe many Americans have done over the last eight years. I wrote a letter to President Obama.

This isn’t meant to start a discussion. This isn’t meant to somehow change your views of President Obama or Donald Trump. This is simply the sharing of my thoughts and life experience with my President of the last eight years. I don’t expect you to agree with me or to even care what I think about anything. This is simply something I wrote and am willing to put out for anyone who may be feeling the same way.

I know some of you don’t care to watch my video, so I’m also including the text of the letter here. This is no different from what’s in the video. This is exactly what I’ve sent to the White House.


Mr. President,

Your time serving in the White House is just about complete. I wanted to take a few minutes to write you a brief letter thanking you for your service to the country you and I both love and call home. I’m 25-years-old. I’ve lived my entire life in the state of Texas. I’ve been heavily interested in politics and current events since I was in high school, never more so than this year. Some would call me a cry-baby liberal who can’t get over losing this year’s election. But you and I both know that there was nothing typical about this year’s election. I have to be honest with you. I’m scared. I’m scared of what a Trump administration can accomplish in four years. I’m scared that those who look like me but weren’t fortunate enough to be born in the United States will be forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known. I’m scared that Donald Trump’s isolationist rhetoric and potential policies will alienate the United States from the rest of the world, most notably from our friends and allies. I’m scared that Donald Trump’s economic policies will only further widen the gap between those of us at or near the bottom and those at the top. I’m scared that Donald Trump will do nothing during his four years in The White House to tackle climate change. And I’m scared of the people who feel emboldened by his win to come out and say whatever they want, to whomever they want, no matter how wrong, disrespectful, or derogatory the remarks might be.

But the point of this letter isn’t to tell you how scared I am of the future. I refuse to live a life in fear. I want to personally thank you for your service. Thank you for helping to ensure equal pay for equal work. Thank you for fighting for marriage equality. Thank you for helping more than 20 million Americans gain access to affordable healthcare. Thank you for putting an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Thank you for moving us toward clean energy because as you always say, this is the one planet we’ve got. Thank you for pushing for Americans to reach Mars. Thank you for pulling our country from the brink of a second Great Depression. My family lost our home in 2010, and my parents have struggled every day since, but we’re still here. We’re still fighting. We’re still putting our work in because in America hard work is rewarded. Thank you for keeping families together instead of dehumanizing illegal immigrants who are productive members of society. Thank you for respecting every American, no matter what they look like or who they love.  And thank you for bringing our troops home.

I could go on and on, as you can see, but I won’t. I want to end it very simply. Thank you for serving me and every other American for the last eight years with respect and dignity, humbly and gracefully. I’ll always be proud to say I voted for your reelection in 2012 to help continue to better the lives of every American.

I look forward to standing with you as a citizen in the continued fight against wrong, un-American policies, and furthering the idea that we are all created equal.

Sincerely,

A university educated, Mexican-American liberal from Texas

John Guillen

A Week Off

I took a week off from posting on here, and largely from social media, to give myself a chance to come to grips with what happened on November 8. I didn’t want to bombard anyone with talk of the election for a week. So I just kept to myself.

See, people seem to think they know EXACTLY how it feels to be in someone else’s shoes after the election of Donald Trump. But no one does. Not really. My life experience is mine. My beliefs are mine. And my reaction to the Trump win is mine. No one can tell me that I’m overreacting or that I should simply accept that this is the direction the country is headed in. Because no one is in my shoes.

I actually had someone tell me I haven’t “become” American yet after I said Trump doesn’t represent or stand for anything I do.

But this is the reality we’re living in. And there’s no way around it. This blog is about books, right? It is. Which is why I’ll get back to discussing various book topics tomorrow.