11 Nonfiction Books To Read And Discuss With Your Social Justice Book Club
by Melissa Ragsdale

There's no better way to introduce yourself and others to new books than through a book club. And now, in the era of Donald Trump, it's important to consider whether or not the books you read are working to dismantle structures of inequality in the world. This is where a social justice book club can come into play. My book club has been a a great tool in increasing my understanding of the many issues at stake. Every month, my book club picks a different issue — mass incarceration, healthcare, rape culture, etc. — and every member brainstorms books on that topic. Then, the book club meetse, discusses the book, and decides how to fight back.

Book club are the perfect place for these discussion; not only do they incentivize you to actually read the book, but they also create a place for thoughtful discussion about the topics. Books are a great starting point for meaningful conversations about the problems in our country and our world, and coming together to talk about a book can help everyone better understand they're own personal biases and privileges and blind spots.

Here are 12 books to get you and your social book club started:

'The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care' by T.R. Reid

Healthcare is a critical issue for Americans right now. In this must-read book, Reid examines different healthcare systems worldwide, and explores what makes a healthcare system successful (or not successful). It breaks down a complicated topic and makes it easily digestible. You'll walk away form this one understanding exactly why affordable healthcare is so essential to America's well-being.

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'The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness' by Michelle Alexander

In this expertly argued book, Michelle Alexander explains exactly how mass incarceration has been utilized as a tool to continually oppress black people in America.

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'A People's History of the United States' by Howard Zinn

This riveting read offers a fresh look at U.S. history through the eyes of voices that are often steamrolled over — including women, factory workers, African Americans, Natives, working poor, and immigrant laborers.

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'Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions' by Valeria Luiselli

In this crucial, heartbreaking read, Valeria Luiselli interviews undocumented Latin American children facing deportation. This is a short books that makes a bold statement on the indignities of our immigration system.

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'Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America' by Barbara Ehrenreich

In this book, Barbara Ehrenreich attempts to live off of minimum wage jobs in order to expose the horrific conditions of the "working poor." This one will give you a lot to think — and talk — about.

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'Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement' by Angela Y. Davis

Through essays and interviews, Angela Y. Davis explores the fight against state violence and oppression around the world. This is a short book, but there's no shortage of discussion topics to be found within.

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'Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches' by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde is essential reading for all Americans. Period. In one of her most famous collection of essays, Lorde lays the groundwork for feminism as we know it today and explores the intricacies of intersectional identities.

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'Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World' by Srdja Popovic and Matthew Miller

One question we have to answer as we gear up to fight back is.... how? In Blueprint for Revolution, Srdja Popovic delivers a handbook on using nonviolent techniques to create lasting change, whether it's on a local or national scale.

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'The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back' by Gloria Feldt

This book was published in 2004, but it is still incredibly relevant. In The War on Choice, Gloria Feldt explores the historical strategies for attacking women's rights, and explains what pro-choice activists can do to rise up and fight back.

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'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this short but essential read, Adichie lays out an argument and framework for how every single person is served by feminism.

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'Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It' by Kate Harding

In this incredible book, Kate Harding explores how sexual violence has become prominent in our culture, and lays out some smart ideas for how we can "take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused."

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