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What I Left Behind

by Isabel Wilkerson, Jen Hatmaker
Published by Random House

I have been picking up and putting down books willy-nilly. It is a bit like I can’t focus. Or maybe there are just too many books catching my eye. If the one I’m reading doesn’t hold me tight, I go wandering off. Some of the books I didn’t finish were perfectly fine books so I wanted to highlight a few.

What I Left BehindCaste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
on August 4, 2020
Pages: 496
Published by Random House

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
“As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of America life today.


This book is very good and you should absolutely read it. The reason I didn’t finish it was that in the very beginning she lays out her premise that the U.S’s racial issues are actually a caste system. I could see the point of her argument. I agreed with her premise. But then the rest of the book was her attempting to prove her point. I was listening to it, nodding, and thinking, “Yes, I agree.” After a while it because hours and hours of listening to the horrors inflicted on people throughout history up to now. I figured that I had already understood and agreed with the point. I didn’t need to listen to the details of all the horrible things people did. I see enough of that with current events.

What I Left BehindFierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker

No more hiding or people-pleasing up in here, sisters. No more being sidelined in your own life. It is time for us to be brave, to claim our gifts and quirks and emotions. You are set free and set up and set on fire.
NOW you can get busy doing what you were placed on this planet to do. NOW you can be honest, honest, honest about all of it, even the hard stuff, even the humiliating stuff, even the secret stuff. NOW you can walk in your convictions of faith and ask new questions unafraid. NOW you can be so free, because you are not searching for value from any source other than your own beautiful soul made piece by piece by God who adores you and is ready to get on with the business of unleashing you into this world.
In this book, I break it down into five self-reflective categories—who I am, what I need, what I want, what I believe, and how I connect—and by working your way through them, you will learn to:own your space, ground, and gifts (they are YOURS, sister);be strong in your relationships and lay down passive aggression, resentment, drama, and compliance;say GUILT-FREE what you want and what you need; andwelcome spiritual curiosity and all the fantastic change that doing so creates.
You with me, beloveds? If we do this work on our own selves now, not only will we discover a life truly worth living, but we will free our daughters to rise up behind us, with spines straight, heads up, and coated in our strength.


I started to read this because I read Glennon Doyle’s Untamed and I sort of wanted to compare and contrast. I remember being impressed by a few things in the first few chapters but I was reading in an actual physical book so I don’t have any highlighted passages to remind me of what I liked. Then I wandered off. I’m not very good at finishing self-help books. But if you like that sort of thing this might be a good one. Besides, after I returned this to the library, she announced she was getting a divorce so the evangelicals probably really hate her now. That’s always a point in someone’s favor for me.


  • Mae Sander

    Your reasons for not finishing Caste are the same reasons for which I didn’t finish The Warmth of Other Suns. I’ve been dreading the effort it would take to read Caste!

    be safe… mae at

  • Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    Lol evangelicals hating someone is a point in that person’s favor for me, too! I’ve been feeling distracted by all the good books I want to read, so I feel ya on that.

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