6 Authors Unafraid Of Addressing Polarizing Issues

It's difficult to speak your truth without ruffling a few feathers, and these authors know that all too well. If you're on the hunt for a provocative read, consider one of these writers tackling ideas like religion, nationalism, gender, aging, and sexuality. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Authors Taking on Volatile Topics

Author Popular Works
Susan Pinker The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap The Village Effect: Why Face-to-Face Contact Is Good for Our Health, Happiness, Learning, and Longevity Mind and Matter (in The Wall Street Journal)
Jay Michaelson God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality Everything Is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment
Lawrence Hill The Book of Negroes Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book: An Anatomy of a Book Burning
Florian Bieber Post-War Bosnia: Ethnicity, Inequality and Public Sector Governance Understanding the War in Kosovo (Edited by, with Zidas Daskalovski The Rise of Authoritarianism in the Western Balkans
Ashton Applewhite This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well Yo, Is This Ageist?
Ryan D. Enos The Space between Us: Social Geography and Politics Can Violent Protest Change Local Policy Support? Evidence From The Aftermath Of The 1992 Los Angeles Riot (from American Political Science Review, with Aaron Russell Kaufman and Melissa L. Sands) Emotional Arousal Predicts Voting on the U.S. Supreme Court (from Political Analysis, with Bryce J. Dietrich and Maya Sen)

Ashton Applewhite on Ending Ageism

Statistics On Aging in the US

  • 47 million: number of seniors in the United States
  • 14.5%: Percentage of Americans 65 and over
  • 95 million: Projected number of seniors in 2060
  • 78: Average American life expectancy
  • 20%: Percentage of seniors who have yet to retire
  • 3%: Contingent of seniors who live in nursing homes
  • 19%: Senior population of Florida, highest in the U.S.
  • 41%: Obesity rate among those 60 and older
  • 38: Current median age in the US
  • 43: Projected median age in 2060
  • 8.5%: Number of seniors 65 and over who smoke cigarettes
  • 12.14%: Percentage of women age 75 and over living in poverty in the US

Susan Pinker on the Secret to Living Longer

In Depth

Some writers play it safe, peddling uncontroversial opinions to familiar audiences, while others are ready to start fights and create conflict. But, as this list shows, you don't need to be a preening contrarian to tackle tough subjects. In no particular order, these writers address difficult issues such as gender, race, politics, and spirituality.

For #1, we have Susan Pinker, a developmental psychologist who writes about social science. She spent 25 years in clinical practice and teaching psychology, first at Dawson College, then at McGill University. She published two weekly columns, first Problem Solving and subsequently The Business Brain, for the Toronto-based Globe & Mail from 2002 to 2012, and now writes about fresh findings about human behavior in the Mind and Matter column in the Wall Street Journal.

Pinker's first book, The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap, combines biological, developmental, historical, and values-based evidence for the career choices made by men and women. In The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier, Pinker extols the virtues of physical proximity and meatspace social networks.

In The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier, Pinker extols the virtues of physical proximity and meatspace social networks.

At #2, Jay Michaelson's writing covers the intersection of politics and spirituality. He is a columnist for The Daily Beast and a frequent commentator on MSNBC and NPR. For Ten Percent Happier, a meditation platform, he is a teacher and editor. He was a professional LGBT activist for ten years.

Michaelson is the author of six books. A nondenominational rabbi, many of his volumes address Jewish subjects, through both poetry and prose, taking up issues such as dualism and Kabbalah. In God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality, he tackles the myth that the Bible forbids homosexuality. Other titles take on related spiritual concerns.

In the #3 position, Lawrence Hill is the son of American immigrants, a black father and a white mother, who came to Canada the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, D.C. He is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, and winner of a National Magazine Award for the article "Is Africa's Pain Black America's Burden?" published in The Walrus.

In his controversial The Book of Negroes, Hill crafts a sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States. The Illegal is a work of speculative fiction on themes of immigration. Black Berry, Sweet Juice addresses race in Canada through personal stories. Hill's other non-fiction titles include Blood and Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book.

Our #4 entry is Florian Bieber. He's a political scientist and historian working on inter-ethnic relations, ethnic conflict, and nationalism, focusing on Southeastern Europe. A Professor in South East European History and Politics and director of the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, he coordinates the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group.

Bieber has written books in both German and English. In Post-War Bosnia, he examines governance in the divided country after the conclusion of hostilities in 1995. The Rise of Authoritarianism in the Western Balkans looks at the growth of reactionary political movements in the region. In Debating Nationalism, Bieber endeavors to provide a concise overview of the global spread of this ideology since the eighteenth century.

Bieber has written books in both German and English.

#5 is Ashton Applewhite, who got her start as a writer as Blanche Knott, pseudonymous author of the Truly Tasteless Jokes series. Her 1997 book Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well landed her on the enemies list of Phyllis Schlafly's far-right Eagle Forum. Her essays have appeared in publications such as the New York Post, The Independent, and The Guardian.

In recent years, Applewhite has turned her attention toward ageism. Her book This Chair Rocks traces a journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life. In conjunction, she has published a consciousness-raising guide, and developed multiple online resources, including Yo, Is This Ageist?, which invites readers to submit questions, and Old School, a clearinghouse for anti-ageism material.

Finally, wrapping up the list at #6, Ryan D. Enos is a social scientist working at the intersection of politics, geography and psychology. He examines behavior and attitudes in the United States and other countries. He is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the department of Government at Harvard University, where he is also affiliated with the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, the Center for American Political Studies, and other research bodies.

He examines behavior and attitudes in the United States and other countries.

Enos's book The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics attempts to show how our perceptions of racial, ethnic, and religious groups are intuitively shaped by the places these groups inhabit and interact daily. His academic papers have appeared in journals such as American Political Science Review, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, and Psychological Inquiry. He has appeared in or contributed to general interest outlets like the New York Times and Newsweek.