Are you obsessed with the bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor, who grew up to be a hero and a scholar? If you're like me, you've been listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda's masterpiece Hamilton non-stop and you always want more.
I've listened to "My Shot" on repeat while on the way to job interviews, belted out the opening song on a very public subway platform, and practiced my King George III impression in the shower. Whether I'm feeling outgunned and out-manned, or as if I'm writing like I'm running out of time, whatever is going on in my life, somehow Hamilton has the perfect answer.
History, diversity, politics, intrigue — Hamilton is the kind of story that everyone yearns for. It's an immigrant story, a testament to hip-hop, and a historical thriller, all wrapped into one. It is all about the stories that get told and the way we tell them — a topic that is near-and-dear to any book lover's heart.
Even though you seriously have to "wait for it" to get a ticket, you can satisfy those intense Hamilton cravings wherever you are with these great reads.
1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
This is the book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write Hamilton, so it's naturally a must-read for any fan. In this ground-breaking biography of the ten-dollar founding father, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Ron Chernow digs deeply into Alexander Hamilton's life story. As you read this, you'll certainly geek out over the thousands of tiny details that Miranda pulled into the musical.
2. The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
Talk about young, scrappy, and hungry, Che Guevara is one of the world's most influential revolutionary icons. Fresh out of medical school, before he became involved with the Cuban Revolution, Guevara traveled across Latin America by motorcycle, learning first-hand the poverty and hardships of working-class people throughout the continent. This book is Guevara's travel diary, an inspiring and illuminating first-hand look into Guevara's transformation from a wide-eyed young man into a political force.
3. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
Everybody give it up for America's favorite fighting Frenchman! If you couldn't get enough of Daveed Diggs' astounding performance, plunge into this witty portrait of Marquis de Lafayette and his own colorful story. After immigrating from France to America, Lafayette was only 16 years old when he was made a general in the Revolutionary War, and he went on to make a continuous impact on our country. Sarah Vowell tells his story with a characteristic snark that promises to delight.
4. Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang
You can't deny the sheer genius that is the music of Hamilton. If you were fascinated by the musical's industrious integration of hip-hop, you need to pick up Can't Stop, Won't Stop. A quintessential read for any hip-hop fan, this book tells the story of hip-hop's emergence and its intense relationship with the world's political and cultural climate.
5. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis
Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in History, this book takes an intense and innovative look at the events that led to the creation of America. Ellis zeroes in on six crucial moments, including some of the most important scenes in Hamilton: the secret dinner that determined the capital, Washington's Farewell Address, and the Hamilton/Burr duel. With those book, you'll dive even deeper into our nation's founding and how we've told its story.
6. The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon
"Immigrants: We get the job done." If you were struck by the Caribbean immigrant aspect of Hamilton's story, this book is for you. The Lonely Londoners tells the stories of the wave of Caribbean immigrants, known as the Windrush generation, who came to London after the 1948 British Nationality Act. Follow a collection of distinct characters as they discover what it means to land in a new country.
7. The Scarlet Sisters by Myra MacPherson
Couldn't get enough of the Schuyler sisters? Meet another forward-thinking sister-duo: Victoria Woodhull and Tennie Claflin. This 19th-century pair shook down the white male-dominated power structure in which they lived, living out radical ideas of sex, politics, and business as they took over Wall Street, Congress, and more. Myra MacPherson brings their badassery to life in this fresh dual-biography.
8. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Not only will this tickle your inner Broadway nerd, but it will thrust you into another historical revolution. Dive into the tumultuous world of post-revolutionary France, with its deep darkness, harsh atmosphere, and seething underground. As a cast of characters struggles to determine their place in the often-cruel world, this book will stab you in the heart again and again, but it does so beautifully.
9. Revolutionary by Alex Myers
"And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I'm going to compel him to include women into the sequel!" This adventure-fueled novel will blast some girl power into your revolutionary reading. Revolutionary is the true story of Deborah Samson, an indentured servant who disguised herself as a man to fight for the Continental Army. Work, work!