Literary Resistance Book Club - March Follow-Up

Last month, I shared how libraries and bookstores are resisting our current political climate by putting social activism books on display. This month I'm excited to share the work the publishing house New Press is doing in direct response to the Trump administration. While some independent publisher's are afraid to openly take sides, New Press is celebrating its 25th birthday with a, "program focused on the challenge of resisting the new administration’s political agenda." They are launching a new series, Fearless Books for Perilous Times.

Three titles in the “fearless” series that are set to come out in paperback this April and May include: Wolf Whistle Politics: The New Misogyny in Public Life Today, edited by Wachtell (with an introduction by Naomi Wolf); Rules for Resistance: Advice From Around the World in the Age of Trump, coedited by David Cole and Melanie Wachtell Stinnett; and How Do I Explain This to the Kids? Parenting in the Age of Trump edited by Ava Siegler. If resistance reading is your thing, New Press has a lot of great books that fit this genre. 

Top Picks from March

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

This book reveals one catch-22 after another. If it weren't real, the situation would be comical. After all, how can anyone keep a roof over their head when rent eats up more than half of your income. And when you inevitably get evicted, how are you supposed to find another place if landlords won't rent to tenants with evictions on their record? So it goes for the eight Milwaukee families Matthew Desmond writes about in his groundbreaking work on eviction and poverty in America. Unlike other books that expose inequality and wealth disparity in America, Desmond is optimistic and proposes a solution for lifting families out of squalor and homelessness. 

Secondhand Time: Last of the Soviets by Svetland Alexievich

For me, Russia has always been an elusive monolith of a country. I took my first literary peak inside last year when I read The Tiger by John Vaillant—a true story of a vengeful man-eating tiger, that unfolds in the far eastern region of the Russian taiga. The history and poverty of the region was just as fascinating to read about as the tiger stalking his human prey. When I heard about this collection of interviews with ordinary Russians about their experience living through Stalinism and the collapse of communism, I was immediately intrigued. The book is a beautiful yet heartbreaking exploration of freedom for which the author was awarded the nobel prize in literature. You can read my full review here

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Most of the books I write about for the Literary Resistance Book Club are non-fiction, Homegoing is the first novel. It, "begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day." Homegoing has what I felt like was missing from the Underground Railroad. Instead of feeling like an onlooker detached from the story, Homegoing caught me in the current and swept me right along all the way to the delightful end. 

For more recommendations, check out the Literary Resistance Book Club. Don't forget to share what you've been reading in the comments. I'm always on the lookout for book recommendations and I'd love to hear from you.

Literary Resistance Book Club - February Follow-Up

Many libraries are setting up displays showcasing books on social justice, tolerance, and resistance. If you haven't already seen the article Libraries Resist from Book Riot, go check it out now. It's refreshing to see so many libraries reacting to our current state of affairs with the best weapon they have—books.

In addition to libraries, many independent bookstores are responding to their customer's demands for more diversified reading and requests for books on social activism by setting up their own displays featuring these titles. Consequently, books in these genres are spiking in sales!

I'm happy to be a part of this momentum by running the Literary Resistance Book Club. You can find all posts in this series here, check them out for more recommendations. Below are my top picks for the month. Share yours in the comments below!

My Top Picks from February

So many things to love about this book! It's a non-traditional tale of a woman trying to make it as a botanist. It covers so much ground, including how science is funded, our rather antiquated perceptions of what a scientist is, and the non-flattering side of pregnancy that no one ever talks about, all while beautifully capturing her platonic friendship with her lab partner Bill. It's a truly stunning memoir that will have you awing over the majestic world of plants while angrily shaking your fists over what women are still dealing with in modern America. 

This book was a life changer. I read it last year and it has sent me down a rabbit hole. Minimalism might just be another fad, but I hope books like this help turn it in to a movement. The author, Bea Johnson really makes you question over consumption and our wasteful mindset of believing we can really just throw something away. Where is "away" after all? Things don't simply disappear when their tossed in the waste bin. If you want to get serious about saving the environment, this book is a terrific reminder that change starts in the home.

This book is more timely than ever and it's available in both adult and young adult editions. From the publisher, "When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl, Malala Yousafzai, refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. In October 2012, when she was 15, Malala almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At 16, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize."

Fake news has always been a thing, but when the president starts spewing alternative facts you have to arm yourself with an a bullshit detector. This book will help you learn to recognize what is news and what is out there for the sake of getting clicks. It's a bold look at the media and how marketing has become news.