7 Issue Nonfiction Books To Read Before The Presidential Debates Begin


With one national convention down, another convention underway in Philadelphia, and only a few months until election day, the race for the presidency is really heating up. While you might think you know everything there is to know about making America great again and making Herstory, you may want to revisit some of these issue books to read before the debates begin so you really understand what you've voting for in November.

When you listen to the 2016 presidential candidates speak on behalf of their beliefs and policies, the issues you pay the most attention to vary depending on where you live, how old you are, how much money you make, and about a hundred other variables. But every issue, whether it directly ties into your personal narrative or not, is important to understand. From criminal justice to privacy, immigration to reproduction rights, there are hugely important issues a the center of this year's election, issues that you will have to decide on before you can decide on a president, because before you're able who you stand with come election day, you need to know where you stand.

If you want to understand what each candidate believes in, you can go to their rallies, watch the news, tune in to interviews and debates, and read their positioning statements. If you want to know more about the issues, read these seven issues books before casting your ballot.

1. Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado

Criminal Justice

One of the most crucial, not to mention hot button, issues of this election is the country's broken criminal justice system. In Unfair, Adam Benforado examines the biggest problems with the system — social inequality, bias, and racism, to name a few — through a new and surprising angle. With the help of historical, scientific, and psychological research conducted over the last 20 years, Benforado explains not only what the hidden biases that deteriorate our justice system are, but why they are there to begin with.

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2. The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid


In his eye-opening book The Healing of America, bestselling author T.R. Reid asks the fundamental and moral question that defines the debate around health care in our country: "Is health care a human right?" To begin to answer the question, Reid looks at the way other democracies, including France, Canada, and Japan, deal with healthcare before turning the same sharp eye on the American system.

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3. Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich


If you want to better understand the overlap of politics and finance, let Robert B. Reich's book be your guide. Saving Capitalism takes the American economy and puts it under a microscope, paying special attention to the middle class, nationwide wealth disparity, and income inequality. Without pulling any punches, Reich's book will tell you what you need to know about the precarious state of our economy and what needs to be done to change it, from the ground level all the way to the top.

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4. Dreamers (El dedo en la llaga) by Eileen Truax


To understand how complicated the issues of immigration is, you have to understand the people at the heart of the story: the immigrants and their families. In Dreamers, Eileen Truax tells the stories of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and grew up in a country they call home, but one that won't officially recognize them. A poignant and heartbreaking look at a very human issue that will be at the center of debate this election, Dreamers will truly make you think.

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5. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert


In the Pulitzer Prize winning The Sixth Extinction, author Elizabeth Kolbert uses a variety of research from geologists to biologists to botanists and everything in between to explain that the most deadliest extinction yet, the sixth extinction, is happening right now. A book about the past as much as it is about the future, Kolbert's natural (and unnatural) history of species disappearing around the world is powerful enough to make you rethink your beliefs on environmental issues and take action now.

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6. Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt


When politicians talk about abortion rights, they often make them sound difficult and confusing, but in reality, it's simple: every woman has the right to chose for themselves what can and cannot happen with their bodies. In Pro, feminist columnist Katha Pollitt breaks the issue down by taking an honest look at abortion, from the way its practiced to the way we talk about it to the way we support it and don't support it, exposing it as a fundamental and moral right all women have. An important and powerful book, Pro is the abortion rights book every voter should read.

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7. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson


Though no one book can completely explain the complicated issues surrounding race in our country, Carol Anderson's White Rage does a remarkable job trying. In it, Anderson carefully examines crucial historical moments, from the Thirteenth Amendment to Jim Crow to Ferguson, Missouri, not only to highlight the progress African Americans have made in this country, but to expose how far there is left to go, and under what opposition.

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