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Recommended Reading for a Post-Trump Future

When I was coming up with this reading list, I toyed with several different directions that I could go. I considered a reading list comprised of novels loosely related to mine. Perhaps consisting of science fiction or dystopian reads with political themes, but with a slightly different twist. I considered other dystopian novels inspired by current events at the time they were written. Then, while turning to my bookshelf for inspiration, I thought about the various books I have reached for these past two years. About the books that helped keep me grounded or allowed me to open my eyes to the experiences of others when I was craving precisely that. I realized this was the type of list I wanted to build.

I hope a few of these books find their way onto your bookshelf, and that you reach for one when you need it. Whether you want to blanket yourself with inspiring words when anxiety is on the rise and the news is moving too fast to keep up with, or when you’re seeking to stretch those empathy muscles by pushing beyond your comfort zone, or you simply want to read a poignant story about the beauty of monarchs and the importance of conservation—this reading list is for you. Happy reading!

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

“Reading isn’t important because it helps to get you a job. It’s important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you’re given. It is how humans merge. How minds connect. Dreams. Empathy. Understanding. Escape.”

― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

In this series of essays, Matt Haig tackles anxiety in the age of social media and news overload. If I had to select one book to sit on tables in doctor’s offices, mental health facilities, dentist’s offices, salons, that weird spare room at the mechanic’s next to the vending machine, or anywhere else someone is left waiting… it would be this one.

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

More and more, as I think about history,” he pondered, “I am convinced that everything that is worth while in the world has been accomplished by the free, inquiring, critical spirit, and that the preservation of this spirit is more important than any social system whatsoever. But the men of ritual and the men of barbarism are capable of shutting up the men of science and of silencing them forever.”
― Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here

Originally written in 1935, this novel that explores how quickly democracy can be dismantled stands the test of time.

Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration, edited by Rose Brock

“So what is Hope Nation? Simply, it’s a collection of unique and personal experiences shared by some of my favorite writers for teens. Stories of resilience, resistance, hardship, loss, love, tenacity, and acceptance—stories that prove that sometimes, hope can be found only on the other side of adversity. I’m so grateful to each of these talented writers for sharing their own paths to hope.”

― Rose Brock, Hope Nation

As with any compilation, some essays hit harder than others, and with a collection like this one, readers will certainly find those that reach out and pull them in for personal reasons. My favorites included The Kids Who Stick by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely, Don’t Listen to the A**Holes by Atia Abawi, and Baseball Pasta by Christina Diaz Gonzalez.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

“It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.”

― Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

In the current climate, talking directly about sexual assault, feminism, and misogyny has to happen if progress is to be made. Roxane Gay gives us the opportunity to approach these heavy topics with a dash of humor, and to recognize we are all human and we aren’t going to get it right 100% of the time.

All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds

“Had our hearts really become so numb that we needed dead bodies in order to feel the beat of compassion in our chests? Who am I if I need to be shocked back into my best self?”

Jason Reynolds, All American Boys

This moving YA novel, written from two vastly different perspectives, transports the reader into the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing fight for racial equality in our country.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

“Being privileged doesn’t mean that you are always wrong and people without privilege are always right. It means that there is a good chance you are missing a few very important pieces of the puzzle.”

― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

If you’re ready to dive head-first into race relations(and learn about privilege, police brutality, microaggressions, and bridging the gap), this book is for you.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

“Science doesn’t tell us what we should do. It only tells us what is.”

― Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior

This is my favorite novel tackling the topic of climate change. Follow a young-woman’s paradigm shift as she discovers her family property now falls within the flight path of migrating monarchs.

American Like Me by America Ferrera

“I was beginning to learn that bravery is like a muscle, and once you flex it, you can’t stop. And being authentic requires a lot of bravery.”

— Reshma Saujani, American Like Me

Compelling first-hand accounts of what it is like to grow up in America for those who may not always feel like they meet the standard mold of an American. Voices such as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Issa Rae chime in.

 

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Jacqui Castle
Jacqui Castle is a professional freelance writer and first-time novelist, living and writing in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. Jacqui's debut book, The Seclusion, was named one of Kirkus Reviews' "Best Science Fiction Books of September 2018" and is now available at all major retailers.
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