View the candidates’ applications and full reading lists (PDF)

Well, at least no one’s reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Or admitting to it, anyway.

If you were to peruse the bookshelves of the four Durham City Council candidates, you would find tomes on history, economics, civil rights, education and self-help.

Don Moffitt, Anita Daniels, Edward Kwon and Jason Melehani have applied to replace Ward 3 City Councilman Mike Woodard, who was elected to state senate last month. As part of the appointment process, the candidates were required to fill out an application that included details of their reading habits: newspapers, magazines and books. Two of the four listed INDY Week, meaning the other two will never see this article.

One of Kwon’s choices, The Warmth of Other Suns, the story of the great migration of African-Americans to the North, is a triumph. (Read our interview with author Isabel Wilkerson.) And if appointed, Daniels will need to keep the self-help book Boundaries close by, especially when council gadfly Victoria Peterson signs up to speak at the meetings.

Moffitt’s choices of 27 Views of Durham and Proud Shoes by Pauli Murray reflect a deep appreciation of the Bull City, while Melehani’s interests include a doorstop of a book about James Monroe. At least we know Melehani has a high tolerance for tedium, a necessary quality for a city official.

Sadly, there are no graphic novels on the list. (C’mon, Melehani, you’re 24!) We suggest Chris Ware’s Building Stories, in which the protagonist, as The New York Times wrote, “is a sad, lonely florist with a prosthetic leg who lives on the third story of a 98-year-old building in Chicago.” Trust us on this one.

Councilmembers, excluding Woodard, will narrow the field on Dec. 20, with interviews and the final appointment scheduled for early next month. Be ready for a quiz.

Jason Melehani

  • Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present by Michael B. Oren
  • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger
  • Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus
  • This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff: “We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.”

Edward Kwon

  • The Political Economy of Hope and Fear: Capitalism and the Black Condition in America by Marcellus Andrews
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson: “They did what human beings looking for freedom, throughout history, have often done. They left.”

Don Moffitt

  • Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family by Pauli Murray
  • 27 Views of Durham: The Bull City in Prose and Poetry (various authors)
  • The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy by William Julius Wilson
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: “…we would be wise not to push too far the conceit that we are smarter than our predecessors.”

Anita Daniels

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  • The Faith of Condoleezza Rice by Leslie Montgomery: “She’s been called the devil’s handmaiden, a history-maker, a rock star, Bush’s secret weapon, a rising star, a murderer due to the death toll in Iraq and a race traitor, among other things.”
  • Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud & John Townsend: “Sometimes we have bad on the inside and good on the outside. In these instances, we need to be able to open up our boundaries to let the good in and the bad out.”