Despite the progress we seem to have made in the “Land of the Free,” there is still a lot of backward thinking out there. And I think we all agree the 2016 presidential election left many of us wondering, But why?!
The state of society often makes us look for an escape and wonder if true political or social change is possible. Fortunately, literature has always been and will continue to be an agent of social change. Political viewpoints aside, it’s a tough time right now for all involved.
Sometimes, your favorite television show or movie doesn’t quite put your mind at ease the way reading a good book does.With that being said, here are five influential reads suggested by yours truly to help you gain a new perspective on the world in which we live:
P.S., Don’t worry, not all of these books are politically driven diatribes either, there’s a bit of fun dystopian fiction to entertain you as well.
1. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom’s Cabin was inspirational enough to catapult much-needed social progress and serves as a reminder that although change takes time, it is possible. Despite the novel’s fictitious foundation, it depicted a very real reality of life as a slave in the United States of America. It has even been credited with helping lay out the groundwork for the Civil War.
2. History: A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn
Howard Zinn‘s work is most likely one of the first mainstream books to spotlight the fact that history, as it’s told, either leaves a lot of things out or is riddled with inaccuracies. One of the main themes of Zinn’s book is the exploitation of the common man by the elite. Zinn once said in an interview that his intent behind writing the book was to start a quiet revolution in a way that allows people to control the conditions of their lives.
3. 1984, George Orwell
Even if you are unfamiliar with George Orwell‘s classic, you should be able to recognize the name “Big Brother, an ominous figure spawned by 1984. Orwell’s masterpiece follows a man who lives in a society controlled by government surveillance, public manipulation, and fear. Several of Orwell’s own predictions have even come true today, such as “Speakwrite” and “Newspeak.” Do the terms “talk to text” or “media spin” sound more familiar to you? Maybe, maybe not. But what’s even stranger is the number of theories that have been made a reality in the tech realm.
4. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates’ poignant 2015 National Book Award-winning novel, Between the World and Me, originally written as a letter to his teenaged son, gives an observation on what it’s like being Black in the United States as well as a plethora of useful devices on navigating the world in which we live.
5. The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx
Karl Marx predicted a revolution with his writing just before the French Revolution broke out. In fact, one such quote might have been premonitory of the revolt, and the way in which the world operates today: “Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.”
Which books have helped see you through our current political climate?
Share some of your suggestions in the comments below!