2013-2015 Books

To support this year's Common Theme we suggests a diverse array of books such as:

Saving Civility

The official book for 2013-2015 is Saving Civility: 52 Ways to Tame Rude, Crude & Attitued for a Polite Planet by Sara Hacala.

Sara Hacala's book is about learning to connect with others beyond guidelines of good manners and conduct. We are reminded that values and attitudes of respect, awareness, empathy, understanding and acceptance are the key to building our common humanity.

In addition, to the amount of information it provides, the Internet has created a tectonic shift in the speed and manner with which we communicate. We talk to people, not so much face-to-face, or even voice-to-voice, but via small screens. Geographical distance is of no consequence: Our messages flow around the globe but also from room to room, at lightning speed, via orbiting satellites thousands of miles high in the sky. We are in instant and constant contact through ubiquitous e-mails, texts, and other forms of computer messaging. We forward copious e-mails to groups of friends, and families as our way of "staying in touch." We use social media pages to inform people about our lives or comment on those of others. Condolence message are sent via Twitter. Multi-tasking with multimedia is the new norm. While technology had created more avenues to contact more people, it is a style of communication that is decidedly less personal (p.14).

Hacala's book provides a basic action guide on how people can become part of a movement to save civility. The book consists of 52 short chapters that provide a guide on solutions to make the world a better place to live by interacting with more respect, kindness, inclusivity, and committing to valuing connection and differing perspectives.

Learn more at www.skylightspaths.com and www.sarahacala.com.


Banaji, M.R., & Greenwald, A.G. (2013). Blind spot: Hidden biases of good people. New York: Delacorte Press.

Psychologists Banaji and Greenwald take us on a journey revealing hidden biases based on their work with the Implicit Association Test, a technique that helps scientists understand the complexity of the human mind.

When you are asked questions, how often do you give answers that you know are untrue? If your answer is "rarely" or "never," we hope to convince you that this itself is something you know to be untrue. We are not questioning your integrity. It's perfectly understandable that you would believe that you rarely answer questions in ways you know to be untrue. Almost certainly you see yourself as an honest person-most people do. And you probably assumed that we were asking about times when you were consciously and deliberately lying, perhaps in ways that might benefit you at the expense of others. But we are interested in something both much simpler than that and not at all malevolent-untruths that are somewhere on the spectrum between totally unconscious and partly unconscious, untruths that people tell not only to others but at times to themselves as well (p.22).

If you enjoy reading about evidence based psychological scientific research and what it can tell us about how we perceive or assume things about other people, this book may be for you!


Herbst, S. (2012). Rude democracy: Civility and incivility in American politics. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Herbst writes powerfully about how we are dealing with so many complex issues like a global economic downturn, continuing healthcare debates, natural disasters, wars and other important issues, yet there is a growing divide between our political parties. She writes that "most uncivil talk in our present-day political communication is racist, sexist or just plain rude" (p.4).

And the now infamous shout "You lie?" – uttered by South Carolina's Representative Joe Wilson during President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of congress in September 2009-marked some sort of American milestone ... there is no question that-although impossible to measure precisely-emotions ran much higher than those from prior recent presidential elections (p.3).

Herbst reminds us that civility is a strategic asset in getting things done, and she challenges us to look at the costs of our political culture, yet gives us hope that we can move forward as a great political nation. If you are looking for a terrific read on the state of political discourse in America, and whether it matters, and why it matters for a democracy this book is superb and hard to put down!


Cousineau, P. (2011). Beyond forgiveness, reflections on atonement: Healing the past, making amends, and restoring balance in our lives and world. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Phil Cousineau's book is a powerful collection of essays and interviews by highly respected authors on conversations around reconciliation, healing and transformation. The book focuses on the importance of learning to view things from the other person's perspective, forgiving the other who we perceive to have caused harm to us, forgiving ourselves, action steps of atonement, and healing.

From the earliest times different cultures have resolved their conflicts and meted out justice in their own way. Traditionally there have been two widely diverging paths-punishment or reform-which are rooted in retribution and forgiveness, respectively. The first is antagonistic and adversarial; the second, compassionate and cooperative. The difference between the two is dramatic. As the Chinese proverb has it, "If you are hell-bent on revenge, dig two graves" – one for your enemy and one for you. Revenge buries us in bitterness; hate immerses us in anger (p.xxi).

The main premise of the book is that when we learn to "see from the other person's perspective" (p.3), it recovers our wholeness, atonement and forgiveness is possible and a higher ground is discovered by all (xix). If you want to read a riveting book that makes you "feel" as though you are on a sacred powerful self-pilgrimage then this is the book for you!

Learn more at http://wwww.philcousineau.net and http://BeyondForgiveness.org.


Forni, P.M. (2011). The thinking life: How to thrive in the age of distraction. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Forni's book is a simple short read on thinking habits and thinking skills. He believes that "communicating is only as good as what is being communicated" (p.4). Forni worries that while technology has brought many benefits, nevertheless he reminds us that we are living in a world full of distraction and that we must make time for thinking, attention, reflection, introspection, and choosing to be thoughtful.

For many of us serious thinking-the kind that makes a positive difference in our lives-has been shrinking like an endangered, pristine marshland threatened by sub-urban sprawl. The daily need to take action on short-term goals makes it difficult to reflect on the big pictures at work. Much to the frustration of the best brains among us, work is increasingly for doing, not thinking. We are logging in a growing number of extra working hours that we scavenge in the rubble of what used to be leisure time. Thus, fatigue sets in at times of the day and the week when in the past our refreshed minds became hospitable to insight (p.13-14).

For Forni, the age of the internet and digital revolution is taking hostage our ability to think and communicate. He gives us pause to think!


Tannen, D. (2009). You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers

Tannen's book is powerful and illustrates the complexity of conversations between men and women, and why it is so easy to talk at cross-purposes. Her discourse is thought provoking and gives us much insight into the diverse communication patterns of men and women.

Each person's life is lived as a series of conversations. Analyzing everyday conversations, and their effects on relationships, has been the focus of my career as a socio-linguist. In this book I listen to the voices of women and men. I make sense of seemingly senseless misunderstandings that haunt our relationship, and show that a man and a woman can interpret the same conversation differently, even when there is no apparent misunderstanding. I explain why sincere attempts to communicate are so often confounded, and how we can prevent or relieve some of the frustration (Preface).

This riveting book has been translated into 31 languages, and is a best seller.

Learn more at http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/book_you_just_dont.html.


Markus, H.R., & Conner, A. (2013). Clash! 8 Conflicts That Make Us Who We Are. New York: Hudson Street Press

This book is rich and easy to read. It discusses eastern and western perspectives of behavior and cultural norms. A rich array of example of situations are provided based on race and ethnicity, gender, regional cultures, faith cultures, workplace cultures, and powerful perspectives of people living in the Global North and South.

Psychologist Yukiko Uchida and colleagues have explored health and interdependence from a different angel. The research team showed Japanese and American participants photographs of Olympic athletes who had just won gold medals. In some photos, the athletes were alone; in others, the same athletes were shown with their teammates. Japanese participants who viewed photos of the athletes with their teammates guessed that the medalists were feeling more emotion - more happiness, pride, and joy - than did Japanese participants who viewed photos of the same athletes all by themselves . . . Yet the American showed the opposite pattern: They estimated that the solo athletes were feeling more emotions than the medalist surrounded by teammates. They applied the independent belief that psyches are most alive when they are alone in limelight (p.10).

This book provides a great perspective of the diversity of global cultures and how people make meaning of their lives.

Learn more at http://www.amazon.com/Clash-Cultural-Conflicts-That-Make/dp/1594630984/.


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