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I wasn’t a big school fan when I was a kid. Being forced to study Punnett squares and imaginary numbers is really not my idea of ​​a good time. Fortunately, I had strict parents who made me listen to my teachers and hand in my homework on time. Do not mistake yourself. I was actually a decent student, but I was far from the kid who sat in front of the class and readily offered answers to teachers.

A part of me has always felt that I was being forced to learn things that I wasn’t passionate about. So it was a surprise when I finally graduated and started working that I suddenly felt the urge to continue studying. Actually no. Not to study. Learning.

For the first time in my life, I had the power to choose what I wanted to learn. Also, I didn’t need a manual. Hence my obsession with Netflix Explain Series. In less than 30 minutes, I can have an overview of everything from voting rights to birth control. It’s the perfect introduction to the topics that really interest me. I also like that there are some fallout, like The spirit, explained and Money, explained, which allow viewers to deepen certain topics.

However, since the episodes are so short, I thought it would be fun to pair some of my favorite episodes and series with books that delve into a specific topic. This list is by no means exhaustive and is based entirely on my adult whims, but I hope you enjoy exploring some of these important topics further.

Whose votes count, explained

This spin-off is great because it delves into a subject that fascinates me: voting rights. Growing up, I was told my vote would always count… until I moved to a Red State as a voter who usually threw blue. I also doubt that being an American Indian has done me a favor, but I digress. Whose votes count, explained skillfully explores some of the biggest obstacles facing marginalized voters in America. Here are two books that delve into the topics of two of the episodes.

The Voting Rights War: The NAACP and the Continuing Struggle for Justice by Gloria Browne-Marshall

The first episode of Whose votes count, explained is titled “The Right to Vote” and explores why the vote is still an uphill battle in America. It is important to note which electoral battles have been won and which have yet to be fought and won. The NAACP has a long history of fighting for voting rights and in The voting rights war, you can read the cases they took to the nation’s highest courts, fighting everything from grandfather’s clauses to literacy tests that kept Americans from voting.

Become a democracy

Becoming a Democracy: How Can We Fix the Constituency, Constituency and Our Elections by Kristin Eberhard

This third episode of Whose votes count, explained explores gerrymandering and the Electoral College. These are heavy topics, so I thought Become a democracy, which offers a few solutions, would be the perfect match. Eberhard guides readers through various flaws in American democracy, such as the Electoral College, which unevenly concentrates voting power in swing states.

Money, explained

As I mentioned before, I only learned about imaginary numbers in college. No one bothered to teach me how to balance a checkbook. To be fair, I had an economics professor warn me about credit cards. However, upon graduation from college, my financial literacy was appalling, and it was really books like these that taught me the fundamentals of economics and personal finance. Money, explained is great because it provides the perfect overview for those who are just starting their financial literacy journey.

good economy for difficult times

Good Economy for Tough Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

This one isn’t associated with a specific episode, but if anyone wants to teach us more about economics, it should be the Nobel Prize winners. Immigration, income inequality, technology and globalization as well as climate change have all increased economic anxiety around the world. MIT economists Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo are using their cutting-edge research to argue for smart interventionism to solve the modern economic crisis.

The debt trap

The Debt Trap: How Student Loans Became a National Disaster By Josh Mitchell

The third episode of Money, explained takes a look at a hot issue: student loans. Of course, a 22 minute episode isn’t enough to learn about the student debt crisis, that’s where Mitchell’s book comes in. He explains how the student loan industry has killed education. It’s a curvy story about government malpractice, scams and good old-fashioned scandals.

The spirit, explained

It’s a shame we don’t learn enough about our own mind in biology class because apparently it’s more important to know the Punnett squares and the Krebs cycle. I’ve found The spirit, explained be an excellent introduction to various subjects related to the human mind.

Morning reader |  Book Riot

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

Episode 2 explores dreams, what they are and why they matter. As such, I thought Why we sleep would be a great addition to this episode. Walker details the importance of sleep and the science behind dreams. It also explains how everything from caffeine to alcohol affects our sleep patterns.

This is your plant review by Michael Pollan

Episode 5 is “Psychedelics” and, well, delves into substances that can alter our mental state. I read This is your opinion on plants months ago and I found it to be a fascinating look at how we humans use plants to alter our mental state in order to achieve certain goals. Pollan has some interesting things to say about why coffee is okay for changing our mental state, but marijuana is not.

Sex explained

Considering I was going to high school in Mississippi, you could argue that my sex education in school was lacking (read: non-existent). Would have been nice to have something like Sex explained when I was growing up.

The Right to Sex: Feminism in the 21st Century

The Right to Sex: Feminism in the 21st Century by Amia Srinivasan

Srinivasan’s book is unrelated to a specific episode of this spin-off. However, it’s hard to talk about sex without discussing how women experience and learn about it. This sharp approach to sex and feminism is a great lesson in how we should think about and talk about sex.

This Is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences by Sarah E. Hill book cover

Here’s Your Brain On Birth Control: The Amazing Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences by Sarah E. Hill

The third episode of Sex explained covers a fairly important subject: birth control. However, despite the fact that the birth control pill was revolutionary, it was only recently that we analyzed the data on how it affects the female brain in the long term. Hill’s insightful book sheds light on how hormonal birth control affects women’s bodies and how they experience the world.

Want to learn other cool things? Discover 50 of the best non-fiction books and some innovative non-fiction books.


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