Booklist for Beyond November 9

The fractious and abysmal election cycle of 2016 is over, but for some of us, it feels like the beginning of the end. As a women-founded and women-owned business headquartered in Seattle, you might assume our general political leanings—and you might be right. But our collective despair right now has less to do with the diverse party affiliations of Team Friday but rather with our values—values that feel under assault. Some of us have spent the past weeks in a state of fear, confusion, and anger, wondering how we got here and most importantly, what to do next.

We’re all dealing with the news differently. Acclimating to our new “reality” has been a struggle, and we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us to heal and come together as a country around shared dignity and opportunity. But before we organize, we must take the time to reflect. And for GFP, this means we must read, listen, and watch.

The Help­­ by Kathryn Stockett

Postelection, I’m finding myself relistening to an audio version of The Help, narrated by Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, Bahni Turpin, and Octavia Spencer. I love this story for many reasons. It’s apt in this time because it highlights the power of individuals speaking out and standing up for each other, and it shows that taking the time to listen to someone’s story can start to break down the barriers that separate us. —Laura D.

But What if We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

The title alone gives a good sense of why this is a timely book. Klosterman’s main idea here is that the past proves that universally held ideas that seem unassailable in the present, like the earth being the center of the universe, often prove to be totally wrong. He tries to imagine what we’re getting wrong now and how people in the future will remember our music, literature, and popular culture, as well as our beliefs about science, politics, and art. It’s a thought-provoking and pleasurable read, owing much to Klosterman’s trenchant opinions and erudite but eminently conversational style. —Dave V.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

For anyone who wasn’t assigned the text in high school, let me assure you that Golding’s Lord of the Flies does not disappoint with its fantastically brutal foray into the human soul and what lurks just beneath civilized society. Marooned WWII-era British schoolboys with nary an adult in sight to keep the peace have nothing on us postelection ’mericans who might find some truth (but not solace) in passages like this one “spoken” by a pig head on a pike: “There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast. . . . Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! . . . You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are the way they are?” —LAM

 

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

The old axiom “History doesn’t just repeat itself; it rhymes” couldn’t be truer today. And what better empire to study than the most audacious, ambitious, far-reaching, progressive, decadent, and—yes—hypocritical in human history. I’m talking about the Roman Empire. There are some startling parallels between our own albeit short and less-far-reaching rise and fall and that of the Romans. Somehow, reading this has been the only grounding force for me through this whole turbulent election and has put it all in perspective. Civilizations, nations, empires all rise and fall, and the reasons for their decline are all startlingly similar—bad/ineffectual leaders, worsening inequality within society, economic hardship, persistent foreign invaders, too many far-flung military campaigns, and inattention to the environment, among other things. Hmm . . . —Ingrid E.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Written in the form of a letter to author Ta-Nehisi Coates’s son, Between the World and Me is not just a father’s explanation of America’s racial history—it’s a beautiful literary exploration of what it means to live in a black body in this country. This book brings the Black Lives Matter movement into sharp clarity, offering insight into the moral debt that white America has accrued after hundreds of years of racial injustice and inequality. This is essential reading. —Devon F.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 bestseller The Handmaid’s Tale was probably meant to be a horrifying vision of a dystopian future, where individual rights are stripped away in the interest of the people’s “safety.” It’s worth remembering that Atwood wrote this book in the early eighties, when a conservative leadership was clamping down in response to relative social progress made during the sixties and seventies. And here we are, thirty years later. So, make yourself a cup of tea (whiskey shot optional), sit down in a cozy chair with a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale, and remind yourself: just as every book has an ending, so too will this turbulent epoch. —Anna K.

The West Wing (OK, not a book)

Millennial friends, this one is for you. I know you can appreciate a good binge watch as much as the older folk, so I’m going to recommend The West Wing, which ran for seven seasons from 1999 to 2006(Back in the pre-TiVo, pre-DVR days, we had to wait for Wednesday nights, and every week it was a wonderful antidote to real life for some of us.) President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet was my president for about seven years. The hallway “walk-and-talk” was invented by Aaron Sorkin on this show. The banter is fantastic. There are fun dramas involving made-up countries, laughter, heartbreak, and an engaging storyline of unrequited love to break up the political stuff. You’ll see loads of younger versions of people you recognize from shows you watch now, and the interior of the White House is pretty much identical to the real one. I went into labor with my second child after a particularly gut-wrenching episode in 2002—now that’s the power of drama. —Sara A.

Reading Through It from the Seattle Review of Books, Seattle Weekly, and Third Place Books

It’s difficult to break out of the ideological echo chambers we create for ourselves. Whether we intend to or not, the media we consume and the social circles we engage with become a riot of shared ideas and opinions. But in order to create change—and we need change—we must come together, share our stories, and listen to those of others. With this in mind, the Seattle Weekly and the Seattle Review of Books are teaming up with Third Place Books–Seward Park to host Reading Through It, a monthly book club to discuss and process this new America. The first book of discussion is Hillbilly Elegy, a New York Times bestselling memoir by J. D. Vance about white poverty in America. I truly believe that books are the beating heart of social change—and no, they won’t fix everything, but they’re a great place to start. —Devon S.