Alex Kotlowitz’s Resistance Reading

Authors pick books that bring solace and understanding in an age of rancor.

Kathy Richland

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We asked a range of authors and creative types to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. More than two dozen responded. Here are picks from award-winning long-form journalist and best-selling author Alex Kotlowitz.

Latest book: Never a City So Real
Also known for: There Are No Children Here
Reading recommendations: I’ve been consuming far too much news lately, and so am getting far too agitated with far too much regularity. I need shoring up. I need reassurance that we’ll get through. And so on my night table sit my reinforcements. I’m in the midst of Dutch writer Tommy Wieringa’s These Are the Names, a haunting tale about migration, about faith, and about new beginnings. Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad: Whitehead is a writer of such unflinching honesty and empathy, both of which are in short supply these days. And from someone who knows how deeply the present is informed by the past, Joseph Ellis’ Founding Brothers.

For all the obvious reasons (yes, Mr. Trump, history matters), I’m revisiting former Sen. Paul Simon’s Freedom’s Champion: Elijah Lovejoy. As if we need reminding what happens when good and decent people don’t stand up against the onerous assault on a free press.

And Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees. Just because.
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The complete series: Daniel Alarcón, Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Ana Castillo, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Michael Eric Dyson, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, William Gibson, Mohsin Hamid, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibbenRabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet WaldmanJesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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