I think we can all agree that this Thanksgiving will be a doozy. Even if everyone in your family is on the same page politically, there's still bound to be a ton of conversation surrounding the recent election. Better to be informed in these
screaming matches discussions than spouting off the "news" you read on Facebook, right? With that in mind, I have a few choice reads for your Thanksgiving travel. If nothing else, these books should spark some great conversations.
Coates had already made a name for himself as a writer in the Atlantic before this book hit the shelves, so a lot of us were already familiar with his observations on race, but this book takes it to a more personal level. Between The World and Me is actually a series of essays written to his son. They explore both personal and historical events in the context of race. Coates poses difficult questions and powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in America. This is a must read for every person of every color.
I read this book a few years ago and its been stuck in my head ever since the election. Larson's account of an American ambassador in Germany as the Nazis were rising to power has eerie parallels to what I'm seeing now with the appointment of people like Steve Bannon. The book speaks volumes about why the seemingly "good people" in the world failed to recognize the threat posed by Hitler until it was too late.
This book should be required reading. Although her writing gets incredible dense at times, its themes of entrenched hierarchy and demagogic national politicking are more relevant today than ever. For anyone who thinks America is "beyond class," this book is a wake up call. The original colonists were a mixed bag of criminals and "waste people" from Britain, not the religious freedom seekers that school would have everyone believe. And thats just the beginning.
This is the only work of fiction on my list, but that doesn't make it any less important. Just last week it won the National Book Award for fiction. Whitehead's book envisions the underground railroad as an actual subway. The book follows a slave named Cora on a harrowing journey in search of freedom and brilliantly describes the terrors that faced black people in the pre-Civil War era. Whitehead manages to create both a kinetic adventure tale and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share. READ IT. NOW.
West made a name for herself writing about pop culture, social justice, humor, and body image. Shrill has been called a must read for feminists by Lena Dunham, Jenny Lawson and The New York Times Review. West seamlessly blends humor and pathos into her stories which range from battling internet trolls to a trip to the abortion clinic.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads the blog regularly that I'm including this book on my list. As one half of HTJL fave, "2 Dope Queens," Phoebe uses her witty writing to explain what it means to be a black millennial woman. There's also a ton of U2 love in there, but that's to be expected.
Vance's memoir chronicles his life growing up poor in America's rust belt and leaving his roots for Yale and Silicon Valley. He weaves personal anecdotes with sociology to investigate the struggle of America’s white working class. While Vance takes an empathetic stance on poverty, addiction and class decline, he takes aim at his peers for what he sees as a culture of blaming others. Many reviews claim that the book appeals to both Democrats and Republicans. Imagine that.
Fun fact, these books make great holiday gifts too (along with donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of Mike Pence or your very own awful relatives)!