Earlier this week, I asked readers of this column to submit ideas for a list of "99 must-reads on income inequality." When I put out that call, I hedged a bit, saying 99 was my goal, for symbolic, we-are-the-99% type reasons, but that a smaller number would be just fine, too. Well, I underestimated you. Within 24 hours of the query, I'd collected more than 100 distinct books, films, YouTube clips, websites and documentaries on this topic.
As of writing, I have more than 150 unique suggestions in my inbox, via Twitter/FB/Google -- and on my desk in Atlanta, since a few colleagues dropped off or mailed me books. I'm so grateful for these submissions. And I know readers are, too. One professor wrote to me saying she plans to use it as part of a course. Others said they're eager to see what their peers think are the most valuable and insightful works on this topic.
I can't take credit for any of this. It's all you. You're actually the reason I'm reporting on income inequality in the first place, since many of you voted for it to be part of the Change the List project, which focuses on social justice for bottom-of-the-list places.
Ninety-nine of your suggestions are below. Don't read too much into the order. It has more to do with when the works were suggested than how significant they are.
Happy reading, and please let me know what you think.
1. "The Price of Inequality," by Joseph Stiglitz
2. "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," by John Perkins
3. "Player Piano," by Kurt Vonnegut (Vonnegut's first novel; according to the back cover, it's a "chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a super computer and run completely by machines.")
4. "Economic Growth and Income Inequality", by Simon Kuznets
5. "Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else," by Chrystia Freeland
6. "The Unwinding," by George Packer
7. "A Tale of Two Cities," by Charles Dickens (Heard of him?)
8. "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand ("I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.")
9. "How Class Works," animation, by Richard Wolff
10. "Random Family," by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
11. "Behind Beautiful Forevers," by Katherine Boo (The Pulitzer-winner explores inequality in Mumbai's "undercity.")
12. "Highly profitable companies ..." by Matthew Yglesias, Slate
13. "In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters," NYTimes.com map (National map shows a poor kid's odds of climbing to the top of the income ladder, by location.)
14. "A Framework for Understanding Poverty," by Ruby Payne
15. "The Big Sort," by Bill Bishop
16. The Bible (James, Chapters 2 and 5, and the books of Job and John were recommended. From James: "Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?")
17. "The Other America," by Michael Harrington
18. "The One Percent," documentary by Jamie Johnson (The Johnson & Johnson heir is pretty good at biting the hand that feeds him.)
19. "Progress and Poverty," by Henry George
20. "Winner Take All Politics," by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson