At Carolina Journal and The John Locke Foundation, staff members can often be found on weekends with their noses in a book. There are few better smells in this world than that of ink and paper with a little salt air and sunscreen mixed in. As you hit North Carolina’s glorious beaches this year, stick a few of these in your bag for that after dinner conversation.

The Parent Revolution

By Corey DeAngelis

It’s no secret that our government-run public education system has held generations of Americans hostage. The teachers unions—the government’s stormtroopers—have been hard at work running a mass misinformation campaign to convince parents that because this is how it has always been, this is how it has to be. But here’s what you may not realize: the parents are winning, and we have entered the death spiral of the education dictatorship. The school choice revolution is here, and moms and dads are successfully restoring parental rights in education, one state, one school district at a time.

Everyday Freedom

By Phillip K. Howard

Everyday Freedom diagnoses our collective futility as resulting from a deliberate change in governing philosophy: The assault on authority after the 1960s, aimed at enhancing freedom, instead created a plague of powerlessness. The teacher in the classroom, the principal in a school, the nurse in the hospital, the official in Washington, the parent on a field trip, the head of a local charity or church…all have their hands tied. Things don’t work, and Americans have lost the freedom to be themselves. That’s the main reason America is in a downward spiral of alienation and extremism.

The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

By Hernando DeSoto
In strong opposition to the popular view that success is determined by cultural differences, de Soto finds that it actually has everything to do with the legal structure of property and property rights. Every developed nation in the world at one time went through the transformation from predominantly extralegal property arrangements, such as squatting on large estates, to a formal, unified legal property system. In the West we’ve forgotten that creating this system is what allowed people everywhere to leverage property into wealth. This persuasive book revolutionized our understanding of capital and points the way to a major transformation of the world economy.

The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness

By Jonathan Haidt  

In The Anxious Generation, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt lays out the facts about the epidemic of teen mental illness that hit many countries at the same time. He then investigates the nature of childhood, including why children need play and independent exploration to mature into competent, thriving adults. Haidt shows how the “play-based childhood” began to decline in the 1980s, and how it was finally wiped out by the arrival of the “phone-based childhood” in the early 2010s.  Haidt issues a clear call to action. He diagnoses the “collective action problems” that trap us, and then proposes four simple rules that might set us free. He describes steps that parents, teachers, schools, tech companies, and governments can take to end the epidemic of mental illness and restore a more humane childhood.

Family Unfriendly

By Timothy P Carney 

Have more kids, have more fun, cancel the travel soccer games, let your kids wander off, and give them deeper sources of meaning than material success. 

This is an old-fashioned view, but every day the evidence validates it. Drawing on rigorous research—both as a reporter and as a dad of six— bestselling author and Washington Examiner columnist Timothy P. Carne demonstrates why modern parenting is so misguided. The high standards set for modern American parenting are unrealistic and setting parents—and our kids—up to fail.

The Capitalist Manifesto 

By Johan Norberg

In this incisive and passionate investigation, Johan Norberg states the case for capitalism and the vital role played by the free market in today’s uncertain world. Ultimately, he argues that a move away from global capitalism would not only squeeze the growth out of the economy but also deepen an already large social exclusion for the vulnerable — for the world’s poor, it would be a killing blow.

Captive Paradise: A history of Hawaii

By James L. Haley

James L. Haley’s Captive Paradise is the story of King Kamehameha I, The Conqueror, who unified the islands through terror and bloodshed, but whose dynasty succumbed to inbreeding; of Gilded Age tycoons like Claus Spreckels who brilliantly outmaneuvered his competitors; of firebrand Lorrin Thurston, who was determined that Hawaii be ruled by whites; of President McKinley, who presided over the eventual annexation of the islands. Not for decades has there been such a vibrant and compelling portrait of an extraordinary place and its people.

A Dubious Expediency: How Race Preferences Damage Higher Education

By: eds. Gail Heriot & Maimon Schwarzschild

This book offers eight clear-sighted essays critical of racial “diversity” preferences in American higher education. Unlike more conventional books on the subject, which are essentially apologies for racial reverse discrimination, this volume forthrightly exposes the corrosive effects of identity politics on college and university life.

The Beginning of Infinity

By David Deutsch

In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. 

The Trackers

By Charles Frazier

In The Trackers, singular American writer and Asheville native Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.

Anatomy of a Purple State

By Dr. Chris Cooper, Western Carolina University

Readers will be introduced to everything that has made North Carolina the most purple of purple states—from the state constitution and the influence of think tanks to the growing racial diversity of the state and the limitations on the governor’s power. By explaining how we came to be in the political situation we are in, Cooper shows us where we might go next. And, as many have said, “As North Carolina goes, so goes the nation.”

Freedom’s Forge

By Arthur Herman

Freedom’s Forge reveals how two extraordinary American businessmen—General Motors automobile magnate  William “Big Bill” Knudsen and shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser—helped corral, cajole, and inspire business leaders across the country to mobilize the “arsenal of democracy” that propelled the Allies to victory in World War II. Drafting top talent from companies like Chrysler, Republic Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, GE, and Frigidaire, Knudsen and Kaiser turned auto plants into aircraft factories and civilian assembly lines into fountains of munitions. In four short years they transformed America’s army from a hollow shell into a truly global force, laying the foundations for the country’s rise as an economic as well as military superpower. Freedom’s Forge vividly re-creates American industry’s finest hour, when the nation’s business elites put aside their pursuit of profits and set about saving the world.

Content descriptions are offered by the publishers of these books. For more book suggestions, check out our 2023 list.