I’m so mad I just found this list. I was thinking about how people should search out the favorite books of their favorite authors. I realized I’d never done this for one of my favorite authors, George Saunders.
And voila, 10 books I know will be phenomenal. As George (I can call him George. I saw him on a plane and told him I loved him. He didn’t call security, so I know we’re on that level.) Anyway, as George tells it, these are the books “that are helping me through the “current political moment,” i.e., this moment when our democracy stands on the brink of failure and our nation runs the risk of leaving its historical moment of greatness behind for something less and more mediocre, by becoming a materialist, corporation-dominated, frightened version of its best self.”
Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi
“A valuable tool in the battle to wring all vestiges of racism out of oneself.”
Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, by Angela Nagle
“This book shot a lightning bolt of understanding into my mind regarding the role of social media in the terrible political division racking our country.”
Silences, by Tillie Olsen
“Language is power, and Olsen does a masterful and compassionate job here of showing who has been denied language in America, and why, and by whom.”
The Distance Home, by Paula Saunders
There is something remarkable and new going on here in the way point of view works, that models a true “God’s eye” view: everyone right, everyone wrong, everyone valid.
The Essential Fictions, by Isaac Babel (new translations by Val Vinokur)
“Babel is a particular master of that unnamed space between sentences”
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
“the first move in any assessment of a person or notion should be sympathy, based on the reality of our grand mutual suffering.”
Words Without Music: A Memoir, by Philip Glass
“Read this memoir for a glimpse of a vanished country (ours, circa 1940s/1950s/1960s) that had an entirely different notion of education and the arts, i.e., a country that valued them”
A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays, and Poetry, by Grace Paley
If anyone ever asks if an artist should be primarily concerned with aesthetics or politics, answer with three words: ‘Yep’ and ‘Grace Paley.'”
Dispatches, by Michael Herr
I wish he was still with us and writing about this moment — there’s no one I would trust more.
Hope Against Hope, by Nadezhda Mandelstam
We have, as Paul Simon put it, ‘lived so well, so long’ that we may be in danger of forgetting that the results of chaos are real.