Monday, 23 January 2017

The Books We Need Right Now

We live in a time of chaos.

Brexit happened. Trump was elected President of the United States. Politics became a shambles. 

The world we inhabited at the start of 2016 is history, literally and metaphorically. We have become such divided nations, where left and right are extremes and most apparently want to rebel against the establishment. The next president of  the most powerful country on Earth is sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and racist. He is a force of danger. He is a very big mistake. 

We live in a time of chaos, where there is little chance of stopping the dangerous future that is tornado-ing our way, enveloping us in a blackness which contradicts all the progress we have made in modern civil society. That is terrifying. We cannot prevent the next steps with ease, but we can arm ourselves mentally with the knowledge that is needed to be above those who apparently are the 'right' people to be in power. Here in the book community, we can do this through the greatest way we know. Reading.

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla (editor)
Given how immigration was such a huge issue in both Brexit and the US Presidential Election, The Good Immigrant could not have come at a better time. Here we are, at the ends of two bitter campaigns which used anti-immigration and harsh ways of controlling immigration as parts of their "marketing schemes." Immigrants, regardless of their reasoning for immigration have been portrayed in a wrongfully cruel light in 2016. As the year draws to a close, now feels like the time to grow more welcoming of people who deserved to be warmly accommodated into their new homes as opposed to being villanised. If you need the push to read this that I or the current mess of the world cannot give you, then here's a not-so-subtle reminder that J.K. Rowling regards it as "an important, timely read." READ IT. 

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
Again this is one book that I'm yet to read, but the past few months (especially debates that arose in October) have made me want to read this now more than ever. Ensler takes the opportunity here to discuss with a variety of other women how they feel about their body, and sexuality, touching on numerous subjects like sexual harrassment and rape. We've all heard what a particular powerful man has been recorded saying, and I think this would be worth a read regardless of your gender, as what was said effects us all.

Girl Up by Laura Bates
The best way to summarise Girl Up is simply to quote the blurb: "They told you you need to be thin and beautiful. They told you to wear longer skirts, avoid going out late at night and move in groups - never accept drinks from a stranger, and wear shoes you can run in more easily than heels. I'm here to tell you different." In a world where the new President of the United States thinks power equates to it being acceptable to "grab 'em by the pussy," not only do we need to be as thoroughly educated on rape culture as possible, but it's essential to be aware of our rights as feminists and as women, to be able to wear what we want, say what we want, and do what we want in the face of male oppression.

The Establishment by Owen Jones
Currently many are deciding that what we need is to rise up against the establishment. It's true that an establishment exists - it exists on both sides of the Atlantic, but before challenging it it's important to know how it actually works and why it works that way. This is definitely something you need to read if you really want to understand the ins and outs of political power.

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
A printed version of J.K. Rowling's Harvard commencement speech, Very Good Lives recounts Rowling's struggles in poverty to having the strength and determination to get where she is now - an immensly successful author and a political, intellectual, and authorial icon. This isn't necessarily a book that is needed in this exact moment, but is moreso a book that you made need to give you the courage to believe in yourself.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Breaking away from the general format of the rest of these books, a graphic novel twist. Persepolis recounts Satrapi's own childhood within the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Satrapi's Iran in many ways has the potential to mirror the coming 4 years of intense and radical political upheaval. Furthermore, in a world where people are having to flee their countries due to war and extremism, perhaps Persepolis can help those who need to develop empathy and understand the struggles that these people face as they uphaul their lives out of fear for their safety. 

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Of course, any Harry Potter book will do; but specifically at this time Order of the Phoenix will probably be the most reassuring. On the day that Donald Trump won the race to the White House, I was already 100 pages into my reread of this book. When I spoke to friends I was making in my internship at MuggleNet, I found many others selecting this installment in the series over any other, and it makes perfect sense. This book is about rebelling against a newly formed and politically immoral establishment to fight for what is right. It subtly enforces ideas about what the power of speaking up can do in times when government is wrong and when the wrong side is winning. If you, like me are an avid Harry Potter fan, then you will find like I have, intense comfort within Order of the Phoenix. 800 pages has never felt so right.   

We live in a time of chaos, and whether you do it by reading these books, standing in protest or tweeting your concerns, now is the time to act.


  1. Thank you so much for these recommendations! It's actually pretty hard knowing that America is actually not going to be a safe place anymore. All kinds of rights are gonna be threatened. Even the environment and atmosphere are going to be threatened. There's a lot of crazy stuff happening, and it's happening way too fast.....

    1. You're welcome! So glad you like them!
      Yeah... it's a scary and uncertain time, but the best way to reppeal against that is to arm yourself with the knowledge needed, and what better way than with books!

  2. All of these books are so important to read in today's world. I am going to go add them to my list!! Great Post!!!
    - Sar ☽


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