Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Resistance Reading

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


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 Pulitzer Prize-winning author, doctor, and cancer researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Latest book: The Gene: An Intimate History
Also known for: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Reading recommendations: How could one not choose the timeless Henrik Ibsen play An Enemy of the People? A Norwegian doctor suspects that the municipal water in a town has been contaminated with toxins. He hesitates but ultimately follows his moral instincts to release the news to the public. He is dubbed an enemy of the people and publicly flayed. Perhaps the president forgot the irony of that title in using the phrase to describe the press.

Oh, and I am reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm. (Same reasons apply: “Four legs bad, two legs good.”) Finally, for pleasure, I have started reading poetry—Ben Lerner, Kay Ryan—to prevent my poor brain from rotting slowly.

Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt
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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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