12 Books Every American Should Read Right Now


It’s lit

Since the election of Donald Trump, there have been many lists compiled of books to read and art to consume in the wake of his dark victory. There have been countless essays written, grappling with the difficulties of this time in history. There's "Rules for Surviving an Autocracy," by Masha Gessen, and then two other favorites can be read at n+1: "No President," by Mark Greif, and "What Can Feminists Do?" by Dayna Tortorici. (Though, frankly, read all of n+1's online coverage of the "Worst Election Ever," and weep for this country while simultaneously marveling at its writers. What a time to be alive.)

Since I'm a firm believer in there never being enough good things to read, though, I've compiled a list of books that every American should read, regardless of how you feel about the election's result. They should be perused simply because we are Americans, and should have as wide an understanding as possible of this country we call home—its past, its present, and its future.

Photo via Houghton Mifflin Company

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson

This is the work that first launched environmentalism to the forefront of the American public's consciousness. Published in 1962, Carson's book revealed the deleterious effects of pesticides on nature; it accused public officials of covering up said effects, leading to lots of finger-pointing, and, ultimately, a nationwide ban on the pesticide DDT as well as a closer look at the indiscriminate use of pesticides in general. It also proves that cultural works can change policy, something that's very important to remember these days.