20 Books To Read To Ring In Joe Biden’s Presidency

From Our Time Is Now to Caste.

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On Jan. 20, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Biden's inauguration marks the end of the Trump era and a much-needed new beginning after the tragedies and struggles of 2020, but the new POTUS' work has only just begun. There are more than a few books both you and Biden should read to start his presidency off right, and we've pulled together a list of the best below.

For the last four years, many writers and thinkers have lamented what The Atlantic once described as "Trump's allergy to the written word." But with Biden's status as the author of two bestselling memoirs and a lover of James Joyce, the new President brings renewed hope for book-lovers anxious to have a well-read person leading the country once more.

These are the books both you and Biden should read during his first year in the White House:

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The 2018 Democratic candidate for Georgia's gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams has dedicated the last few years of her life to fighting against voter suppression. In Our Time Is Now, Abrams lays bare America's ongoing problems with gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and other policies that keep Black voters from being able to exercise their voting rights.


First published in the summer of 2020, Anne Applebaum's latest book is a must-read for all U.S. citizens today, as we reckon with the events of Jan. 6, 2021: when armed insurrectionists breached the U.S. Capitol for the first time in more than 100 years. An expert on Soviet history, Applebaum examines how authoritarian tyrants come into power and hold onto it, in Twilight of Democracy.


Thanks to decades of underfunding, America's public schools are in big trouble, and that's without accounting for the endless proposals for programs that would divert tax dollars into private education. Derek W. Black analyzes the problem with public education in the United States today, and lays out a plan to fix it, in Schoolhouse Burning.


At a time when roughly 40% of Americans would prioritize saving the economy over controlling the spread of COVID-19, President Biden would do well to check out this reminder of just how abstract our dollars and cents really are. In Money, NPR podcast host Jacob Goldstein examines humanity's ever-evolving relationship to currency, keeping in mind that the almighty dollar is really only worth however much we think it is.


The president has already shown his commitment to reforming U.S. immigration policies, most notably by eliminating the restrictions his predecessor put into place. Still, he'd do well to read Laura E. Gómez's Inventing Latinos, which examines how political conflicts have moved to shape the ethnic and racial identities of Latinx people living in the United States today.


The majority of spaces in our country have been designed with able-bodied people in mind, in spite of the fact that anyone can become disabled at any time. So what would happen if we moved disability to the forefront of architectural conversations? In What Can a Body Do?, Sara Hendren imagines a world built around accessibility — a vision President Biden should work to implement in the United States.


Lab Girl author Hope Jahren's 2020 book, The Story of More, examines the history of manmade climate change, from the Industrial Age to today. The last few decades have been chock-full of warnings about mass extinctions and points of no return, but there's still a path forward for humanity, which Jahren illuminates here.


Between nominating U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) for Interior Secretary and canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline, President Biden has demonstrated a commitment to Native American representation not seen in previous administrations. Even so, he should read Toni Jensen's memoir, Carry, which details the author's experiences at Standing Rock and confronts America's complex relationship to gun culture and violence, head on.


From the author of Stamped from the Beginning comes this guide to antiracist activism. If there's one thing Ibram X. Kendi makes clear here, it's that not being racist is no longer enough. Instead, we must actively work against white supremacy in all its myriad forms.


The Sixth Extinction author Elizabeth Kolbert returns to store shelves in 2021 with Under a White Sky: a new examination of how humanity has impacted ecosystems around the world and what our continued presence on Earth means for the planet's future. As President Biden moves the United States toward a greener future, he should keep this book on his nightstand.


In Chained in Silence, Talitha L. LeFlouria examines how Black convict labor in general, and women's labor in particular, helped to rebuild the American South in the aftermath of the Civil War. Although LeFlouria's work focuses on the Reconstruction and Jim Crow Era, readers can still see the brutal legacy of the 13th Amendment at work in the United States today.


Based on the author's work as a translator for undocumented children in U.S. immigration courts, Valeria Luiselli's Tell Me How It Ends draws from her young clients' answers to a standard array of questions to expose the deep injustice present in the current U.S. immigration system.


While we're in the midst of a deadly pandemic that disproportionately affects people of color, President Biden should consider reading Dayna Bowen Matthew's Just Medicine. Reprinted in 2018, Matthew's 2015 book lays out a plan for legal action that addresses the U.S. health care system's pervasive racism.


Tackling the interconnected issues of Native American sovereignty, U.S. oil production, and violence against women, Sierra Crane Murdoch's Yellow Bird follows the eponymous Lissa as she searches for answers to disappearances in and around North Dakota's Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.


The Jan. 6 insurrection might strike some of us as the culmination of the white supremacist patriarchy's impact on America, or as a violent response to statements from a handful of politicians. But as Ijeoma Oluo points out in Mediocre, the system that rewards white men simply for being white men has operated at the forefront of American life for nearly two centuries.


Compiled by the Sunrise Movement's Varshini Prakash and Guido Girgenti, Winning the Green New Deal is a collection of essays justifying the eponymous package of legislation aimed at combating climate change. Biden has embraced the Green New Deal, but it couldn't hurt for him to read a collection that emphasizes its importance.


After entering the U.S. when she was 5 years old, Ecuadorian-American author Karla Cornejo Villavicencio graduated from Harvard as an undocumented immigrant. In her debut book, she examines the major contributions of undocumented workers to everyday American life.


From the author of The Warmth of Other Suns comes this analysis of America's intricate system of ethnicity, race, religion, and economic class. Tracing a line from Colonial America through to the present day, Caste dives deep into how we relate to our neighbors on person-to-person and community-to-community levels.


Another essay collection, Alice Wong's Disability Visibility collects 38 papers on the contemporary disabled experience. Decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act became the law of the land, the United States still has a long way to go to become an accessible society.


Sex work has gone mainstream with Only Fans. Workers around the country are unionizing. In Neon Girls, Jennifer Worley addresses the intersection of these two issues, both of which President Biden should be paying attention to.