Books We Need to Read in Trump’s

In light of the inauguration of an American president with a now-indisputable fascist bent, I’ve put together a reading list for a Trump presidency. These books are either lesser-known or often pigeonholed in other niches -there are a few of these kinds of lists going around, so I’m trying to offer some suggestions that might be a bit more novel.
Abolition Democracy: Angela Davis’s very long-form interview. A manifesto for most political realities, especially relevant now.

Bad Feminist: Roxane Gay’s essay collection, dealing with race and gender and the intersection of the two.

Notorious RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a stone cold bad ass.

Long Way Gone: The memoir of a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, a story that speaks to the physical and psychological realities faced by children living in constant war.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Why families migrate, how they seek to survive in extreme poverty and in adverse surroundings.

Notes From No Man’s Land: Essays on how America has handled race, on NAFTA, and one absolutely brutal essay I’ve taught many times about lynching and telephone poles.

Fun Home: One of the best graphic memoirs I’ve read, addressing gender, sexuality, suicide and mental health, and how all of that shit mixes together in the USA

Play It As It Lays: Joan Didion’s crushing novel on the experience of a woman who is tired of living in a certain kind of male reality.

The Bell Jar: A good poet’s excellent novel. Gender, femininity, mental health, and a seemingly intractable fortresses of sexism.

The Demon-Haunted World: The King of Nerds explains why we all need to science way harder.

MAUS: Because this shit has happened before.

Slaughterhouse-Five: Because war sucks, and children wind up with the heaviest shit piled on them.

The Pillowman: A Fascist police state that pretends to care about children and tries to censor artistic expression. Imagine that.

Animal Farm: A pig that superficially resembles a human fucks everyone over in order to obtain an unprecedented and obscene amount of power, then continues to fuck over everyone, especially those who have worked very hard in his service, so as to make himself more comfortable and to further cement his power.


Angela Davis’ “Abolition Democracy”

Angela Davis has a pretty fantastic author’s byline. She’s run for vice-president of the United States twice on the Communist Party USA ticket, she’s been on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, and was called a “terrorist” by none other than Richard Millhouse Nixon. She’s got some seriously good publishing credits as well. “Abolition Democracy” is a long-form interview, divided into multiple sections, and dealing mainly with issues of race and how they relate to the role of the prison in society.

Davis’ central thesis revolves around the idea that capitalistic institutions actively circumvent democracy, leaving citizens fundamentally unfree. These institutions are intractable in their relation to racial prejudice, and they do harm to everyone involved with them. Davis also spends some time dismantling the myth of multiculturalism as a means of progressive action, criticizing mainstream liberalism for accepting racial tokenism in lieu of actual, radical change to institutions that impair freedom. The book also spends a good deal of time talking about torture, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib

This kind of book-length academic text isn’t too common on my reading lists any more, but I not only felt the reading to be incredibly rewarding, but an enjoyable read. While I disagree with Davis on a few points, I found her arguments to be compelling and her justifications sound. My project of reading fifty books by female authors this year keeps leading me to great books I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise.

Recommendation: Read it, especially if you have any interest in liberalism, race, the prison system, or socio-political movements.