With the presidential inauguration just days away and a Trump presidency looming like the ever-hovering sword of Damocles, the feelings of fear, anxiety, tension, frustration, and marginalization experienced by millions of Americans in the weeks since the election are building to a fever pitch. And I definitely understand all of the sentiments above — after all, we just witnessed a months-long election season where it was made clear that under a Trump regime, practically anyone who isn’t an upper-middle-class, white, American, cisgender male will be under attack: women, immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, the disabled, minorities and/or anyone Trump suspects of being a minority, and others. But right now, no matter how hopeless you might be feeling, powerlessness is simply not an option; which is why you should consider checking out these books that’ll help you through a Trump presidency. (At the very least they can’t hurt, amirite?)
The days when the wrath of a grammatically-questionable Tweet is the worst of our concerns are definitely long behind us. What we need now is a game plan, a working knowledge of the long history of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience in the U.S., a lot of resilience, and even more inspiration. In that spirit, check out these 9 books to help us get through a Trump presidency. And whatever street you’re marching against Trump in, I’m there marching alongside you.
1‘What We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values in Trump's America’ edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians
Featuring everyone from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to Gloria Steinem, George Saunders, and Dave Eggers, this brand-new collection of essays and inspirational words of wisdom was written specifically to help restore your faith in humanity (and maybe even democracy) in the wake of a Trump presidency. What We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values in Trump's America, edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians reads like a handbook for anyone in need of a little heart and a little hope as we all continue to try and work towards values of equality and justice during a time when both are being deeply threatened.
2‘This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century’ by Mark Engler and Paul Engler
Nonviolent protest and civil disobedience has been a part of the history of the United States for as long as the United States has been the United States — and whether the fight is for women’s suffrage or civil rights, climate change or immigrant’s rights; whether the activists are members of Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter or another major movement that made headlines in recent years, the fact is that nonviolent protest, when implemented mindfully and relentlessly, can change policies, and laws, and history. It is this idea that writers Mark and Paul Engler explore in their recent title This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, sharing insights from contemporary activists alongside the wisdom of icons like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
3‘March’ by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
If you weren’t familiar with John Lewis’s life and work before last week, you probably are now. The congressman and civil rights activist has been one of the most outspoken critics of president-elect Trump — and his strength, wisdom, and experience are very needed right now. March is a graphic trilogy chronicling that same strength, wisdom, and experience; telling the story of Lewis’s upbringing in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., and his dedication to nonviolent protest, civil rights, activism, and justice. Detailing some of the most pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement, as experienced by someone who witnessed them firsthand, March is a must-read.
4‘When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World’ by Greg Jobin-Leeds
Detailing the history, philosophies, tactics, key moments, struggles, and successes stories of today’s social movements, Greg Jobin-Leeds collaborates with art and activist collective AgitArte on a book chronicling the last decade of activism in the United States. When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World is filled with tips, advice, and anecdotes about what works (and what doesn’t) when launching a movement for social change. You might want to take notes.
5‘When Women Win: EMILY’s List and the Rise of Women in American Politics’ by Ellen Malcolm, Craig Unger
If you haven’t heard of EMILY’s List, it’s a political organization that seeks to inspire change both within politics and through political action by getting more women elected to office. Founded in 1985, EMILY’s List has worked to help elect 19 women Senators, 11 women governors, and 110 Democratic women to the House in the last three decades. Reading like a collection of short biographies and featuring the stories of iconic figures from Hillary Clinton, to Elizabeth Warren, to Barbara Mikulski, When Women Win: EMILY’s List and the Rise of Women in American Politics is a much-needed reminder that when women win, we all win.
6‘Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement’ by Angela Y. Davis
Angela Davis began her activist career in the Civil Rights Movement and as a leader of the Communist Party USA, committed to fighting against racism and the prison industrial complex. Along the way her work and words have been documented in plenty of books, the most recent of which is her 2016 title Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. This collection of essays, interviews, and speeches details the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism; discussing the legacy of activism from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement, and reminding readers that the good work of social justice is never done.
7‘Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson's Heresies to Gay Marriage’ by Stephen R. Prothero
Left and right politics are growing increasingly more polarized — and more polarizing — by the day; but if you’re a progressive gal who's been feeling like you just can’t win lately, listen up: because according to bestselling author Stephen R. Prothero, liberals win even when they lose elections. He also argues that our current political climate, disheartening as it might seem, is hardly unique — and might even be essential to American progress and the country’s identity. Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson's Heresies to Gay Marriage explores America’s culture wars across the country’s entire history, demonstrating that progressive causes almost always win out in the end.
8‘Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities’ by Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit has been a seriously outspoken critic of the president-elect, and we love her for it. A writer who has an impressive history of activism as well, Solnit has dedicated herself to everything from environmentalism to feminism — and now is a great time to revisit her 2005 title Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, which focuses on the positive consequences of our work towards social justice, even if those successful results aren’t immediately evident.
9‘Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In’ by Bernie Sanders
Whether or not you were feelin' the Bern throughout the election season, there's no denying that we need the thoughtful, powerful words of Bernie Sanders right now. Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In takes readers behind the scenes of Sanders’s presidential campaign and shares his continued vision for political revolution, progressive economics, environmental justice, racial and social equality, and healthcare for all. This book will remind you that there are still tons of people out in the world working for the greater good, and that now — more than ever — losing hope is not an option.