It can be difficult to keep up with the latest news in American politics, but that doesn't mean you can't still get educated. For a list of books that will help you freshen up on all things politics, check out these titles. We're sure you'll find something you love
2014 | George Lakoff, Chris Sorensen
Since it became an international bestseller in 2004, Don't Think of an Elephant! has been the definitive handbook for progressives who want to articulate their goals and values to voters, understand how conservatives think and why people often vote against their best interests, and frame the political debate. Completely revised and updated to tackle today's issues, the 10th Anniversary Edition not only explains what framing is and how it works but also reveals why, after a brief stint of winning the framing wars in the 2008 elections, the Democrats have gone back to losing them, and what can be done about it. In this powerful new volume, George Lakoff delves into the issues that will dominate the midterm elections in 2014, the coming presidential elections, and beyond. He examines the current progressive and conservative frames on climate change, inequality, immigration, education, abortion, marriage, healthcare, national security, energy, and more. He explores why some issues have been difficult to frame, guides readers on how to frame complex issues without losing important context, and drives home the important differences between framing and spin. Do you think facts alone can win a debate? Do you think you know what makes a Tea Party follower tick? Do you think you understand how to communicate on key issues that can improve peoples' lives? Whether you answer yes or no, the insights in Don't Think of an Elephant! will not only surprise you, but also give you the tools you need to develop frames that work, and eradicate frames that backfire.
2011 | Colin Woodard
An illuminating history of North America's eleven rival cultural regions that explodes the red state-blue state myth. North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" culture, but rather into one of the eleven distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out mutually exclusive territory. In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, and the rivalries and alliances between its component nations, which conform to neither state nor international boundaries. He illustrates and explains why "American" values vary sharply from one region to another. Woodard reveals how intranational differences have played a pivotal role at every point in the continent's history, from the American Revolution and the Civil War to the tumultuous sixties and the "blue county/red county" maps of recent presidential elections. American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America's myriad identities and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and are molding our future.
2014 | Roxane Gay
A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay. “Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.” In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture. Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
2016 | Gillian Thomas
“Meticulously researched and rewarding to read…Thomas is a gifted storyteller.” —The New York Times Book Review Best known as a monumental achievement of the civil rights movement, the 1964 Civil Rights Act also revolutionized the lives of America’s working women. Title VII of the law made it illegal to discriminate “because of sex.” But that simple phrase didn’t mean much until ordinary women began using the law to get justice on the job—and some took their fights all the way to the Supreme Court. Among them were Ida Phillips, denied an assembly line job because she had a preschool-age child; Kim Rawlinson, who fought to become a prison guard—a “man’s job”; Mechelle Vinson, who brought a lawsuit for sexual abuse before “sexual harassment” even had a name; Ann Hopkins, denied partnership at a Big Eight accounting firm because the men in charge thought she needed "a course at charm school”; and most recently, Peggy Young, UPS truck driver, forced to take an unpaid leave while pregnant because she asked for a temporary reprieve from heavy lifting. These unsung heroines’ victories, and those of the other women profiled in Gillian Thomas' Because of Sex, dismantled a “Mad Men” world where women could only hope to play supporting roles; where sexual harassment was “just the way things are”; and where pregnancy meant getting a pink slip. Through first-person accounts and vivid narrative, Because of Sex tells the story of how one law, our highest court, and a few tenacious women changed the American workplace forever.
2014 | Claudia Rankine
A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.