It Happened to Me

On the Reading List

I’m a sucker for “big idea essay” books, so while wandering around Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighbourhood, I stopped by Elliott Bay Books and picked up a couple that I’d been meaning to read:

Cover of "X Saves the World"

The first was X Saves the World, Jeff Gordinier’s book inspired by his Details magazine screed Has Generation X Already Peaked? Here are the notes from the back cover:

Hi. If you’re read this far, the publisher of this book is pleased. Presumably there is something about X Saves the World that intrigues you, but you need an extra nudge. That’s what this paragraph is for. In these pages, Jeff Gordinier pursues an idea that is bold, fascinating and really entertaining. Generation X isn’t the bunch of “slackers” that you remember from way back in the early ‘90’s. Instead of squandering their hours in coffee shops and record stores for the past twenty years, Gen X has been busy…wait for it…rescuing American culture from a state of collapse! It’s true! From the way we watch moves to the way we make sense of a cracked political process to the way the whole world does business, the snarky but hardworking men and women born in the sixties and seventies are doing the quiet work of keeping America from sucking. Read the details inside this book. (Then give yourself an ironic pat on the back. You deserve it.)


The other book was The Tyranny of Dead Ideas, written by Matt Miller (who wrote The Two Percent Solution: Fixing America’s Problems in Ways Both Liberals and Conservatives Can Love).

From the book liner notes:

America is at a crossroads. In the face of global competition and rapid technological change, our economy is about to face its most severe test in nearly a century. Yet our leaders have failed to prepare us for what lies ahead because they are in the grip of a set of "dead ideas" about how a modern economy should work. They wrongly believe that

• our kids will earn more than we do
• free trade is always good, no matter who gets hurt
• employers should be responsible for health coverage
• taxes hurt the economy
• schools are a local matter
• money follows merit

These ways of thinking—dubious at best and often dead wrong—are on a collision course with economic developments that are irreversible.

Matt Miller, one of America’s most creative public-affairs thinkers, offers a unique blend of business-world acumen and public-policy vision to lay bare how this conventional wisdom holds our country back, and he introduces us to a new way of thinking—what he calls "tomorrow’s destined ideas"—that can reinvigorate our economy, our politics, and our day-to-day lives.

It is only by breaking the tyranny of dead ideas that we can move beyond the limits of today’s obsolete debates and reinvent American capitalism and democracy for the twenty-first century.

I’m going to start with X Saves the World. Have any of you read either of these books? Any comments?