I'm still with her.
Like most rough + slightly unfathomable things in my life, I have turned to books to search for words that can better articulate how I'm feelin' when I'm feelin' blue. If I kept a journal, the day the world found out that Hillary Clinton would not be our President, would be littered with weird experiences that solidified why I love living in NYC; you could feel everyone uniting in shock (even on the cold Subways) and the city was dark.
Alas, if you are looking to crush through a few reads to get you through until Friday when someone else is sworn into the White House, or some reads to get you through the next four years, here are a few that I highly recommend.
1. Hillybilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Let's start here. The NY Times reviewed this as 'how to understand Trump's Nation,' and while that's a bold statement, if you truly are having a rough time walking in the shoes of others, this is a fantastic memoir/social study of poverty in white America. Vance retells his upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains through a fairly dysfunctional family, while articulating both the good + bad sides of the great debate on lower middle class + their struggle to make it in America.
2. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Not because Obama mentioned Atticus Finch in his farewell speech + not because it's the grown-up story of Scout + not because 50+ years later, To Kill a Mockingbird still highlights most of our countries social flaws, but because I think it's a really important book. Scout idolized her father, leaves for a bigger life, + comes home to realize that the ideologies + roots to where you were raised are completely complex. I identified with Scout on almost every single page of this book + if you come from Republican roots + have silently sat around a room with people you love in shock, while wholeheartedly disagreeing with their social or politic beliefs, and have been so confused how you departed from the same outlook, then yeah, read this.
3. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cherly Strayed
This book has nothing to do with politics and for that alone, I suggest it. It's a unique + beautiful 'advice column' that you can identify with each person, on each page. It's a good reminder that we are all aren't so different and that compassion + empathy can go pretty far.
4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Required reading. I highlighted over 20 passages of this book + should probably go back for a re-read to appreciate it once more. I will never know what is like to be raised in America without the privilege of being white, but Between the World and Me shocked, embarrassed, and schooled me on the world outside my own. (Coates narrates the audiobook and has a fantastic voice. Maybe start there.)
“You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
5. What is the What by Dave Eggers
I have posted about this book many times, but its critical in understanding just how privileged America is. It whipped me out of most of my trivial + petty complaints while reading it, but also challenged how proud we are in stating that America is the 'land of the free.' It is a simply beautiful book.
6. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
This book shed light on American immigration and the struggle to just simply survive, in a way that I hadn't read yet. I have written about it on this blog before + it was a top rated 2016 book, but it has impeccable timing + is definitely worth the read. The juxtaposition of my own 'struggle' of NYC living compared to this incredibly hardworking + optimistic family was a refreshing wake up call of privilege, and ironically, it was the book I was reading when Trump won America.
7. The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
Because this is a disturbing dystopian fiction that I fear will become our fate, it was almost too difficult to swallow. How far off from our future is it?
I would like to note however, that if we differ or disagree, what has lead you to your beliefs has validity if you have arrived at them on your own. The above books really spoke to me when I felt lost in trying to articulate my frustration with not being able to communicate with those that are on the opposite side of opinions, or simply being able to explain my own thoughts/feelings. And that's the point of reading, right? ;)