Read Your Way Out: The Best Books to Read for Those in Despair about America


Source: Amazon

This election, and if I’m being honest, this entire year, has been a dumpster fire of racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and general bigotry. Black churches have been burned and vandalized, hate groups have attacked Muslims, police violence is out of control, and if you’re a woman who’s been abused, this year has likely been one of the most triggering of your life. We’ve let fear divide us. The monster “other” scares Clinton and Trump supporters alike. The difficult part is getting all of us to remove the “monster” costume from the “others” and see that we’re all just people. No matter which side you’re on, and no matter who wins the election, America has some serious work to do.

I believe the best way to combat this division is with understanding and education. Instead of shutting down and screaming the same things over and over at each other, we should be listening to each other. I’ve been so frustrated this year, and stressed, and disappointed. I’ve been arguing and fighting. And that was a mistake. Because the only way to bridge the divide we currently have in this country is to listen to each other.

If you find yourself in a similar place despairing over the state of America, I suggest reading your way out of it. Read about someone with a different viewpoint, a different experience. I’ve created this list just for you, broken down by issue. And maybe after you’ve finished reading, you’ll see we’re not so different after all.

Racism, Civil Rights, and “The Other”

  1. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Graphic Novel)
  2. March, books 1-3 by John Lewis (Graphic Novel)
  3. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (Non-Fiction)
  4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Non-Fiction)
  5. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward (Non-Fiction)
  6. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (Non-Fiction)
  7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Fiction)
  8. Blackass: A Novel by A. Igoni Barrett (Fiction)
  9. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie (Fiction)
  10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Fiction)

Misogyny/Women’s Rights/Feminism

  1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (Non-Fiction)
  2. Shrill by Lindy West (Non-Fiction)
  3. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (Non-Fiction)
  4. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Non-Fiction)
  5. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum (Non-Fiction)
  6. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson (Non-Fiction)
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Fiction)
  8. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Fiction)
  9. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Fiction)
  10. The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Fiction)

Immigration and Islamophobia

  1. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Graphic Novel)
  2. Habibi by Craig Thompson (Graphic Novel)
  3. Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders with America’s Illegal Aliens by Ted Conover (Non-Fiction)
  4. Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe (Non-Fiction)
  5. When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir by Esmeralda Santiago (Non-Fiction)
  6. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Fiction)
  7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fiction)
  8. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (Fiction)
  9. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez (Fiction)
  10. The Consequences of Love by Sulaiman S.M.Y. Addonia (Fiction)

The LGBTQ Experience

  1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Graphic Novel)
  2. White Girls by Hilton Als (Non-Fiction)
  3. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman (Non-Fiction)
  4. No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions by Ryan Berg (Non-Fiction)
  5. Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture by Adrienne Shaw (Non-Fiction)
  6. Living Out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims by Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle (Non-Fiction)
  7. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (Fiction)
  8. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (Fiction)
  9. How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis (Fiction)
  10. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (Fiction)

Finding Common Ground and Finding Yourself

  1. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (Graphic Novel)
  2. Monstress by Marjorie Liu (Graphic Novel)
  3. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Non-Fiction)
  4. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison (Non-Fiction)
  5. The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge (Non-Fiction)
  6. American Grace: How Religion Divides Us and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell (Non-Fiction)
  7. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Non-Fiction)
  8. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (Non-Fiction)
  9. Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile (Fiction)
  10. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Fiction)
  11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Fiction)
  12. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (Fiction)
  13. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Fiction)
  14. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Fiction)
  15. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Fiction)

One thought on “Read Your Way Out: The Best Books to Read for Those in Despair about America

  1. Pingback: Read Your Way Out: The Best Books to Read for Those in Despair about America | The Dissenting Cupcake

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