6 summer reading picks for angry people hell-bent on making a more just world

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

If you’re still on the internet in times like this, I salute you and also how the heck do you do that.

For the past few weeks, my news feeds have been an infinite scroll though a continuing carnival of horrors. It’s exhausting to sustain this level of anger; I’ve had to step away from the news multiple times in order to deal with the world.

Of course, the best way I address my frustration is doing something about it: Calling my representatives. (Follow Celeste Pewter on Twitter for her agile updates on how you can pressure your Congressional reps.) Or donating to the candidates who could help flip seats in Congress.

And when I’ve done that, I read.

Believe me: Reading books (or honestly engaging with any kind of art) by people from marginalized groups, about marginalized perspectives, is an act of resistance. It amplifies narratives that have been historically suppressed or erased. They remind me of my connection to humans whose experiences are unlike my own and give me the energy to keep fighting for all of us. 

And so, my a summer reading list for angry people. Consider it more of a formula; instead of recommending specific books, I give categories, share what I’m reading and give a few suggestions for fiction and nonfiction (many of which cross over between categories):

1. A book that illuminates the immigrant experience.

What I’m reading: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Source: Amazon

What I recommend: 

  • Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

2. A book by an LGBTQ author.

What I’m reading: How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee

Source: Amazon

What I recommend: 

  • After the Blue Hour by John Rechy
  • Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

3. A book by a Muslim author.

What I’m reading: Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Source: Amazon

What I recommend:

  • Pillars of Salt by Fadia Faqir
  • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

4. A book written by a woman of color.

What I’m reading: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Source: Amazon


What I recommend:

  • What is Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

5. A historical account of a civil rights movement, or another social justice issue that you care about.

What I’m reading: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Source: Amazon

What I recommend:

  • Mission High by Kristina Rizga
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • The Making of Asian America by Erica Lee

6. A book about someone from a marginalized group just having adventures and falling in love and being happy because that the life we all deserve, dammit.

What I’m reading: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo


Source: Amazon

What I recommend:

  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

So, what did I miss? What will you read to restore and empower you?

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