Dave Eggers’ Resistance Reading

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

Courtesy of Dave Eggers

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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 the prolific author and McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers, who recently co-wrote and co-directed (with James Ponsoldt) the movie version of his 2013 dystopian novel, The Circle.

Latest book: Heroes of the Frontier
Also known for: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Recommended reading: Over the holidays I read It Can’t Happen Here, and that was a helpful bit of fascist prophecy. But the book I’m going back to now is one a friend of mine, Flagg Taylor, edited a few years ago, called The Great Lie. The book collects essays by a wide range of writers who lived under tyranny, and the results are richly rewarding and surprisingly accessible. Taylor is a professor at Skidmore College and the book is about 800 pages, and yet it’s eminently approachable by anyone interested in seeing the parallels between our current flirtations with truthless fascism and those societies that were truly crushed by totalitarianism. Everyone you could think of is in there—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Václav Havel, Hannah Arendt—and some lesser-known essayists like Aurel Kolnai and Waldemar Gurian get their due, too. The title, of course, references the sort of lie told by authoritarian governments that’s so outrageous and unbelievable that citizens feel it must be true. In our age of alternative facts, this collection is timely and deeply unsettling.


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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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