“Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” by Adam Grant
Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist who studies how people find motivation and meaning. In this book, Grant encourages people to not only learn from being wrong, but explore how it makes us feel. He examines why we’re uncomfortable “thinking again,” how we can develop greater introspection, and how we can teach others to think again in a way that is often more productive than getting everything right the first time. This book encourages readers to overcome overconfidence and embrace not knowing everything.
“How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need” by Bill Gates
Backed by ten years of research, Bill Gates uses this book to explain why and how we must work towards a goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions. Split into three main parts, Gates describes the environmental fate we currently face, the ways in which technology can function to help us reduce or eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions, and an accessible, well-defined plan by which all individuals, corporations, and governments can abide to reach this goal. This read is urgent and practical, an ambitious plan but one that is optimistic about the future of our environment.
“Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted” by Suleika Jaquad
In a trans formative story that grips readers from the first pages, we meet Suleika Jaquad in the summer after graduating from college with a world of opportunities ahead of her. After a swarm of strange itches, inescapable exhaustion, and a flurry of tests, Suleika is diagnosed with leukemia just before her 23rd birthday. After four years in a hospital bed, Suleika finally beats cancer to find a new set of challenges ahead of her: How to live rather than survive. Full of emotional truths, this is a story of heartbreak and triumph from a survivor with a chance to begin again.
“Broken (in the best possible way)” by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson is a popular blogger known for her sarcasm and unique outlook on life. She’s been open about her struggles with depression and her mental health journey and, with this book, encourages readers to humanize and destigmatize mental health in her own notoriously hilarious ways. With a series of funny anecdotes, Jenny hopes readers feel less alone in their own experiences with depression and anxiety, especially in a time where more people are struggling with their mental health than ever before.
“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner explores growing up Korean American, feeling the high expectations of her mother, and bonding with her grandmother over late-night food in Seoul. As she grows into adulthood, she feels more and more distant from her Korean heritage — until her mother is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Forced to reconnect with her identity, Zauner offers the truest look at her most difficult days, portraying every bit of grief and conflict mixed with stunning food descriptions.
“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019” edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
This is a chronological account of 400 years of previously silenced Black history in America. Curated by two historians, this book begins with the arrival of 20 enslaved Ndongo people in 1619 and continues to tell stories of slavery, segregation, and oppression over 80 chapters. There are also celebrations of African art and music, a life-changing collection that concludes with an essay from Alicia Garza on the Black Lives Matter movement.
“A Swim in a Pond in the Rain” by George Saunders
George Saunders teaches Russian short stories to MFA students at Syracuse University, focusing on what makes stories great, what fiction can tell us about ourselves, and the ways in which literature reflects our world today. This book is a version of his class, using Russian short stories across seven essays to demonstrate how relevant great writing still is. This book is highly accessible, abandoning complex literary concepts in the search for more straightforward answers, making it a perfect new publication for those who loved Stephen King’s “On Writing”.
“The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos” by Judy Batalion
This is a nonfiction book that reads like a thrilling historical fiction novel, a previously forgotten story of Jewish women who became resistance fighters in World War II after watching the Nazi destruction of their communities and the murders of their family members. The author is the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors, transporting readers to 1939 where Jewish women bribed German soldiers, paid off guards, hid revolvers, and bombed train lines to fight for the freedom of their people.
“The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together” by Heather McGhee
Heather McGhee is an economist who explains how racism and white supremacy have negative social and economic effects on white people, too. She uses the concept of “zero-sum” (the idea that progress for some comes at the expense of others) to introduce her own new concept: The Solidarity Dividend, an idea that progress is felt amongst all when people come together across race and achieve what cannot be done alone. Heather uses historical examples and individual stories to explain how racism against minorities has had negative consequences for everyone, and to offer real solutions for a better future.
“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu
“Aftershocks” is a memoir from a woman who was raised all around the world, struggling to understand all the pieces of herself. Nadia Owusu’s memoir is a beautifully written story about a complicated earthquake of a young life and understanding the aftershocks of trauma and vulnerability. When Owusu’s mother abandoned her at two years old and her father died when she was 13, she was raised by her stepmother, unable to shake the feelings of loneliness. Her story is a weave of memoir and generational history, a journey of understanding the compilation of experiences and cultures that comprise an identity.
“You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism” by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar
Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar are sisters who collaborated to create a compilation of what seem like absurdly unreal stories of racism, yet are all true and sometimes regular experiences for Black people. Told with hilarious sibling banter, the sisters swap stories of people mistaking them for Harriet Tubman, putting their whole hand in their hair, and their interaction with a racist donut store owner. Amber and Lacey shed light on these ridiculous moments of racism with which Black people can commiserate and others can learn from.
“Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York” by Elon Green
This is a true crime book about the Last Call Killer, a serial killer who targeted gay men in New York in the 1980s and ’90s. Because of the high murder rates, the AIDS epidemic, and the sexuality of the victims, the Last Call Killer had been mostly forgotten despite the graphic and horrifying nature of the murders. This book traces the decades-long search for the murderer while also sharing the stories of the victims and the resilience of the gay community.