At a time when we desperately need to have smart, informed conversations about the state and future of our nation, Donald Trump's bullying and anger are eclipsing our priorities. Trump has spent this election season running on a platform based in ignorance and hatred, and often flat-out idiocy. I don't know about you, but I've had enough of it.
The best way to fight Trump, and other people like him, is through knowledge and empathy. With these books, we can educate ourselves and combat the negative rhetoric and ignorance. Reading is truly power. You don't need billions of dollars to open a book and learn about the world we're in.
I would find it nearly 100 percent unlikely that, no matter your political affiliations, you would be able to read even a handful of these books and come out a Trump supporter in the 2016 election. But even if you're already anti-Trump, you ought to read them anyway, because the more we inform ourselves about these issues and experiences, the better equipped we are to handle, not just the 2016 election, but also the world beyond it.
I'm ready to take the conversation back again. So grab your library card, let's stick it to the man.
1. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Remember a few months ago when Johari Osayi Idusuyi sat behind Trump at a rally and read a book? This is that book, and it's amazing.
A finalist for the National Book Award (among many, many other honors), this book of poetry unpacks the ongoing racial aggressions in today's daily life, and their terrible consequences. It's an extremely important read.
2. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
As Trump would tell it, this country was built by white, billionaire men like him. It just isn't true, and this book proves it. Zinn plunges into American history, telling it from the point of view of women, African Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, factory workers, and immigrant laborers, often in their own voices.
3. The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol
I can't bring myself to even quote the terrible things Trump has said about immigrants. This collection of phenomenal short stories explores the immigrant experience, pulling at the strings of how it is to be a part of two worlds. The characters in this collection will wrap anyone up, reminding readers that immigrants aren't the monsters Trump would have us believe they are; they're living, breathing, humans.
4. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
Trump has been particularly nasty to Mexican immigrants, infamously declaring them "rapists" and "murderers," among other horrifically inaccurate ideas. This book draws you into the world of a Latino immigrant community in Delaware, in which a Mexican girl and a Panamanian boy fall in love. Fleshed out with many voices from within the community, in this story you'll meet a pantheon of characters that show you the real, complicated, hard-working experiences of the immigrant life.
5. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Speaking of the Mexican-American experience, give this classic a spin. A series of vignettes that tell the story of a Mexican-American girl growing up in 1960s Chicago, and her journey as she defines her identity and builds a life for herself. Trump would have us think that Mexican immigrants are an "other," a hostile force threatening America, but this book is a great demonstration that Mexican-Americans are America.
6. The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf
Trump has been truly disgusting toward Muslims. The best antidote to such hatred is empathy. This story of a Syrian woman living in 1970s Indiana is a heart-wrenching look into American Muslim life, as she deals with a failed marriage, a brutal murder, and a return to faith. Moving between Indiana, the eastern U.S., and Syria, this is a remarkable, unforgettable story of identity and change.
7. Arab in America by Toufic El Rassi
Another much-needed glimpse into American Muslim life, this graphic novel memoir depicts Rassi's life growing up as a Muslim in the '80s and '90s through post-9/11. Eye-opening, captivating, and completely true, reading this is another step in understanding how we as a nation can treat each other with more respect.
8. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Whether it's Hillary Clinton, Megyn Kelly, or his own daughter, Trump can't talk about a woman without oozing gross disrespect, and that's completely unacceptable. This book plunges into the constant, gendered disrespect in today's world, exposing how horrifically dangerous these patterns actually are.
9. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
This book is the anti-Trump, delivering clear, bold, and moving essays on feminism, race issues, abuse, and more. You won't be able to read this book without thinking critically about the world we live in, and you'll close it feeling empowered.
10. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
In this eerie and thrilling speculative fiction from literary titan Margaret Atwood, a dystopian society is starkly divided by class, where the rich get richer, the poor keep getting poorer, and corporations dominate. Sound familiar? The human race has turned into a genetic-engineering nightmare, where the only "true" human being is our protagonist, Snowman. A gripping narrative, and a much-needed warning of the consequences a Trump presidency could bring.
11. Refund by Karen E. Bender
Trump draws his power from his over-large wallet. But this National Book Award finalist is a good reminder that money is not the solution to everything. A collection of stories that deals with the complicated relationship we have with money, you'll be drawn into all kinds of remarkable lives, from billionaires to con artists.
12. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
Trump's long-time hobby has been spreading lies about President Obama. Remember that whole "born in Kenya" nonsense? Take the time to learn the truth about our president from his moving memoir, in which he goes back and explores his remarkable personal history, including the father he never knew, the ancestry from which he comes, and his journey as a young bi-racial man in America.