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America the Beautiful: 8 Books That Open Your Heart and Mind

Reads that reflect the country we want to be.

For some time, the political discourse in America has not reflected our core value of inclusion and it appears intolerance is at an all-time high. Following the Charlottesville incident, which left 32-year old Heather Heyer dead and 19 others injured earlier this month, more people are standing up and rejecting hate in favor of love, diversity and an enduring spirit of cooperation. We’re tired of the racism, sexism, and discrimination against various communities. And while we may not have a plan of action just yet as to how we eradicate these, we can gain insight through research and literature.

Literacy opens minds and one way to expand our cultural views is to read and embrace authors of all backgrounds. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 8 of our favorite reads that reflect the America we want to be: one where everyone feels they belong, especially in times of uncertainty. Here’s to an open mind and an open heart:


Buy Between the World and Me at Amazon

Between the World and Me

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Written in the form of letters to his son, Coates’s powerful memoir is both the story of his life and an intimate dissection of race in America. He takes us from the past to the present, showing how race is a social construct that exploits the most vulnerable, a systematic assault that often falls most heavily on black men and women. Blending personal narrative with larger social commentary, Coates paints a clear and moving picture of what it truly means to be a person of color in America.

Between the World and Me

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Buy Night Sky with Exit Wounds at Amazon

Night Sky with Exit Wounds

By Ocean Vuong

Vuong’s gorgeously moving poetry collection won the 2016 Whiting Prize – and we can certainly see why. Lyrical while also telling the powerful story of his life, Vuong takes us across continents and cultures, showing the lasting violence of war, the complicated constructions of race and gender, and so much more.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds

By Ocean Vuong

Buy Night at Amazon

Night

By Elie Wiesel

If you haven’t yet read Wiesel’s classic holocaust narrative, now is the time. With haunting and clear prose, Wiesel takes readers through his experiences as a teenager in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s a devastating portrait of what happens when hate wins, and the kind of narrative that will stay with you long after you read it.

Night

By Elie Wiesel

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Buy Something in Between at Amazon

Something in Between

By Melissa de la Cruz

De la Cruz’s semi-autobiographical young adult novel tells the story of high-achieving teen Jasmine de los Santos, whose Filipino family has been living in America for most of her life. But when she learns that she’s actually undocumented, her carefully laid plans for the future disappear. Something in Between hits a lot of the sweet and uplifting beats of a novel for teens, but at its heart is a complicated and emotional story of what it means to be an immigrant in America.

Something in Between

By Melissa de la Cruz

Buy If Not Now, When? at Amazon

If Not Now, When?

By Primo Levi

Levi’s work has always tackled tough subjects – and as a survivor of the holocaust, he understands exactly what’s at stake when we turn a blind eye to hate and fear. If Not Now, When? is about a group of Jewish rebels who travel across Europe fighting the Nazis and risking everything in the name of freedom. It’s a motivating and emotional story, and one that’s bound to inspire your own call to activism.

If Not Now, When?

By Primo Levi

Buy The Watsons Go the Birmingham at Amazon

The Watsons Go the Birmingham

By Christopher Paul Curtis

If you’re struggling with how to inform your kids about what’s going on politically (or if you simply prefer a picture book), then we recommend this Newbery Honoree by Curtis. In 1963, 10-year-old Kenny and his family head to Birmingham to visit his grandfather and become caught up in the bombing of the 16th Avenue Baptist Church – a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Blending hilarious family drama with the realities of being African American in the South during a time of violence and turmoil, this is a story that will appeal to readers of any age.

The Watsons Go the Birmingham

By Christopher Paul Curtis

Buy Dog Whistle Politics at Amazon

Dog Whistle Politics

By Ian Haney López

To understand how political rhetoric had a hand in shaping the Charlottesville march, then pick up a copy of Dog Whistle Politics. López dissects how politicians use coded racist phrases (or “dog whistles”) as a way to rally and unite white voters. This powerful and insightful nonfiction book will open your eyes to how veiled racism, the declining middle class, and the current language of the Republican Party are all dangerously interconnected.

Dog Whistle Politics

By Ian Haney López

Buy Sofia Khan is Not Obliged at Amazon

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged

By Ayisha Malik

For a slightly lighter read that may still give you a new cultural perspective, try Malik’s contemporary romance that’s often referred to as the “Muslim Bridget Jones.” After finding herself single again, Sofia Khan agrees to write a book about what it means to date as a modern Muslim woman. Along the way she discovers more about herself, her family, and her faith.

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged

By Ayisha Malik


We want to know what books have taught you more about yourself and the world? Let us know in the comments!


This article originally appeared on BookTrib

BookTrib.com, “Where Readers Meet Writers,” is a network for readers and writers to make a connection and keep books alive in a distracted world. Created by Meryl Moss Media, a literary PR firm with a successful 25-year track record. 

Looking to expand your mind through reading? Sign up for the Early Bird Books newsletters and get the best daily ebook deals delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured Image: From "The Watsons Go to Birmingham" (2013) via Tonik Productions

Created on 06 Sep 2017

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