Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you know that Donald Trump is the president of the United States (and if you have been living under a rock, where is it and can I join you? I'll bring snacks). For a lot of Americans, this means that we've been existing in a state of vague, panicked hopelessness since election day. But losing all hope has never been a great strategy for creating political change. We need to believe in a better future in order to fight for it. Here are a few political books that will give you hope, because all is not lost.
Of course, I understand why people might feel hopeless right now. Trump has made it painfully clear that things like healthcare, equality, and innocent human lives are just about as important as golf and chocolate cake. A new World War feels entirely plausible. And, while we're inspired by every beautiful, courageous act of resistance, "resisting" is what you do when your back is against the wall. You resist when you have no other options. That can be a hard place to exist, mentally, for four whole years.
So take a breath, drink some water, and read one of these hopeful, political books, to remind yourself that there is still a lot of good in the world:
1'The Audacity of Hope' by Barack Obama
Remember Obama? He used to be president around here? He ran a whole campaign on the premise of hope and positivity? The Audacity of Hope might be a painful read if you're really missing Obama right now (or if you vehemently disagree with him on a couple of things), but it's also a well written, uniquely insightful book about America, national identity, and dogged optimism even in the worst of times.
2'The Next American Revolution' by Grace Lee Boggs
Sometimes the best way to renew your hope in politics is to read through a detail plan for sustainable change — not just vague sentiments about the resilience of the American spirit, but real life experience from a long standing activist badass like Grace Lee Boggs. The Next American Revolution explores the history that's brought us to this point, and how we can move forward with radical social change.
3'I Am Malala' by Malala Yousafzai
As far as young activists go, Malala Yousafzai hardly needs any extra press. She's already the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But if you only know her as the famous little girl who survived a point blank shot to the face, then you should pick up her memoir and read the rest of the story. I Am Malala will remind you that there are extraordinary young people all over the world fighting for political change.
4'Born a Crime' by Trevor Noah
While Trevor Noah's memoir isn't exactly a political manifesto, he was in fact "born a crime," since his parents' interracial relationship was illegal at the time in South Africa. Long before he was tearing down politicians on The Daily Show, he was a small child being hidden from a government that refused to accept his very existence. Noah manages to find the beauty and the humor in these memories though, and he's living proof that things can change for the better.
5'But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past' by Chuck Klosterman
Sure, the title But What If We're Wrong? may not inspire much hope on its own. But looking at the present through the lens of history might actually offer you some helpful, hopeful perspective: the current political climate is not going to last forever. Someday, this is all going to be behind us. And in the meantime, Chuck Klosterman's sense of humor about culture, politics, and history helps quite a bit.
6'Nasty Women' by 404 Ink
It can be hard to feel hopeful while also existing as a human woman in the 21st century. Nasty Women will make you feel less alone in the struggle. With a wide range of female voices sharing their real, often harrowing experiences, Nasty Women doesn't sugar coat the reality of inequality and sexism. But it does bring to light a bunch of amazing women supporting each other, and that's something to feel hopeful about.
7'Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda' by Ezra Levin, Leah Greenberg, and Angel Padillajan
Not sure how to keep resisting on a day to day basis? Read Indivisible. Abstract hope is great and all, but having a practical guide makes everything that much easier. Written by former congressional staffers, this book breaks down the best practices for forcing your elected officials to actually listen to you on all the issues that matter most. Don't lose hope, keep making those phone calls!
8'Hope in the Dark' by Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit's writing is always a pleasure to read, and Hope in the Dark is no exception. Solnit goes far beyond basic platitudes to make the case for radical hope as a political strategy. She reminds us all that the positive consequences of our actions are not always immediate, and that we all owe it to ourselves to celebrate the small victories along the way.