Political Books: preaching to the choir?

Interesting post over at Deans World on political books and who reads what and why. Dean is jumping of this chart and post. The author seems to be saying that most people only read things they agree with, hence the strong clustering of books on a left right spectrum. In an earlier chart he felt that academics might read across the spectrum but average readers do not. Dean, however, offers a number of reader types that might do so.


Here they are:

1) The open-minded person whose political views are well-grounded, well-informed, and firm, but who occasionally decides to pick up a couple of the more popular books on the other side just to see what all the fuss is about. Such a person need not feel the need to buy “one from each side” so he can “balance” it. He knows perfectly well what he believes and why he believes it, having read a good deal on the subject in the past.
2) The “refugee reader,” the recently-alienated person who has become disillusioned by his old political views and feels as if he’s insulated himself from ideas he should have taken more seriously in the past. So he thirstily seizes on several books that map to ideas he had never bothered to explore before so he can learn more about them. He may wind up “converted,” or he may not.
3) The “guerilla reader,” who wishes to understand his enemies’ arguments in order to better poke holes in them.
4) The “boomerang partisan,” one who is very staunch and quite narrow-minded, but who likes to think he is open-minded. Thus, he occasionally samples books on the far fringes of the other side just so he can assure himself that they are full of stupid and evil people. (Example: a hard-core, unwavering Democrat who picks up an Ann Coulter and a Michael Savage book just so he can say, “See! those Republicans are all jerkoffs and bigots!”)
5) The “rage-addict reader,” who reads authors whose views he despises because he gets a perverse pleasure in the anger it gives him. (There are any number of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage listeners who hate them but listen to them regularly, for example.)
6) The “bumblebee reader,” who enjoys a wide variety of political views, but tends to read in clusters, like bees to one cluster or the other of flowers. “Oh, let’s see what the lefties are up to this month.” “Okay, it’s been a while, time to dip back into the righty pool and see where they’re at these days.
7) The “daredevil reader,” who agrees to read one or two books that a friend has challenged him to read.
8)The “gimme that old time religion” reader, who only buys books that agree with his views, so he can yell “preach it! preach it!” and “see! we’re right! we’re right!”

So the question is do you read books from a variety of political perspectives or do you stick with books that largely agree with you? If you do read books outside your perspective, why?

I will admit that I rarely read books wildly outside my own perspective. First of all, I rarely read popular political books anyway. I am not really into rants packaged as books. Sometimes, I will read these type of books just to see what it all is about or because I find the particular subject interesting. Occasionally read books I think I will enjoy and agree with only to find the I didn’t and I don’t. Mostly I look to read history, literature, and philosophy from which I can learn and which I will enjoy. A lot of this can’t easily be categorized as left or right, but I will admit to a rightward slant overall.

Now its your turn, what do you read and why?

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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