Between the World and Me
“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body,” Coates tells his teenage son in this book of letters inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, “and you must find some way to live within the all of it.” It’s an unflinchingly realistic take on the brutality inflicted upon black bodies by the police, by the prison system, and by the American Dream that is created and propagated by Hollywood and the suburbs but never quite reaches anyone outside of those realms.
Personal experience inspired Into Thin Air author Krakauer to write this book about the shockingly high incidence of acquaintance rape at universities, but especially one in particular, the University of Montana: He knew a woman (not from Missoula) who had been raped, as many of us do. However, in stark contrast, Missoula is just the facts—pulled from documents about a variety of cases—and they’re staggering. These accounts, of the injustices committed against women who had already been violated, will hopefully create a counterpoint to disastrous cases like Rolling Stone’s retracted UVA investigation.
What Is the What
Eggers’ novel is a keen example of collaboration: Fleeing violence in the Sudan, Valentino Achak Deng survives refugee camps for over a decade, winding up in Ethiopia, then Kenya, and eventually the United States. There, he meets Eggers, who transforms his impossible story into a compelling novel. The best part? All of the proceeds went to a foundation set up in Achak’s name, which helped to rebuild his village in Sudan.
Kuklin’s collection helps to normalize the existence of non-binary people, especially among adolescents, by profiling six trans and gender-neutral teenagers before, during, and after their transitions. Through photographs, portraits, and interviews, Kuklin provides a rare, searching look into the elation and heartbreak that comes from becoming something other than the gender they were assigned at birth.
The Water Knife
“Cli-fi” is the snazzy nickname for “climate fiction,” an entire genre (often sci-fi) based on apocalyptic visions of our future climate and how it affects the entire planet. Bacigalupi’s particular lens is droughts, but taken to the worst-possible scenario: The American Southwest reduced to the new dust bowl after water dries up. Cut off from the rest of the country, this lawless region is ruled by robber barons, while political machinations continue to build massive resorts that further strain limited water sources. Scared enough yet?
With the upcoming election looking to be one of the most contentious in our nation’s history, there is a dizzying array of factors to take into account before voting, not least of which are the polarizing candidates. If you feel like you’re not up on the relevant issues and are watching the weeks countdown until Election Day, check out this list: We’ve compiled fiction and nonfiction that address the major issues, from talking points at debates to the conversations spurred by the candidates themselves based on their behavior in the media. From memoirs to novels, these books will hopefully translate macro topics into micro and offer more relatable stories that are more easily understood.
Which books help you understand political and personal issues?
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