Susan Faludi's work has been at the forefront of America's discourse about gender for decades. There's her 1991 blockbuster Backlash, which described the anti-feminist forces that fomented in the wake of the second wave, and my personal favorite, Stiffed, which looks at how stifling our cultural conception of masculinity is for men. Her new book, In the Darkroom, is a memoir about her relationship with her mercurial, absent, sometimes violent father, who moved back to his native Hungary and transitioned late in life to become a woman named Stefánie. Faludi's lens on gender is clear (and characteristically controversial) here, but she also weaves in a good deal of 20th century European history, and her own emotional insights about her life, her father's life, and the household she grew up in. It's gripping, informative without being didactic, and a little heartbreaking.
This little pamphlet called How to Disappear in America by Barry Reid—available in printed form and also for free around the web—dates from the 60s or 70s and is full of radical wisdom on how to erase yourself from society. The advice is sometimes geared towards specific types of fugitives (criminals, women fleeing an abusive relationship, members of the Earth Liberation Front and other political groups, draft dodgers) but it could be used by anyone. The tips are both helpful and thrilling: Shave your head, if you can, and wear a hat when indoors to avoid depositing DNA; always veer left if the authorities are tailing you, because they will expect you to veer right; add rice to a car's radiator fluid to disable it; if you must contact people for support, it should be from a pay telephone along a freeway or other high-speed avenue, so you can get away fast. Much of the text is dated, and obviously pre-911, but reading it is like reading the best adventure fiction or watching a Bourne movie. I will probably never need to know anything in Vanishing Point, but I am happy to absorb its knowledge, because you never know, do you?