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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This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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