My Top 5 Post-Election Recommendations

I don’t think that I’m alone in saying that the results of the recent US election have left me feeling pretty down. But more than anything, they have left me wanting answers. How could this have happened? Why did it happen? What can we do about it? Almost every day customers come into the bookstore and ask me to recommend something that will lift them out of their post-election depression, which has inspired me to put together this list of my top five post-election recommendations.

1. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance

Written by a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, Hillbilly Elegy is a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, this book is a fascinating study of class, culture, and the American dream (or rather, the loss of the American dream for many). While this book does not explain – at least not directly – why Trump won the election, it certainly is a touching and troubling meditation on the lives and experiences of those who made up his largest voter base.

2. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities – Rebecca Solnit

Although it was published in 2004, this book could not be more relevant at the moment. In Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and her extensive research into political, social, and environmental history, Solnit reflects on the often-neglected victories of activism and argues that the positive consequences of our actions are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable. As usual, Solnit’s writing is beautiful, but more than that, she hits home with her hope-filled message for anyone who feels overwhelmed, discouraged, and desperate about the current state of political affairs.

3. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead 

While most of the books on this list are non-fiction, the power of a novel should not be underestimated. This book deals with America’s disturbing racial history and reimagines the path that slaves took to escape the Deep South as an actual railroad that runs beneath the earth. To be honest, I haven’t read this one personally, but quite a few of my coworkers attest to its brilliance. Oh, and it won the 2016 National Book Award, so there’s that.

4. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America – Nancy Isenberg

This book is a fascinating history of the class system in America, extending from colonial times to the present, and challenges all comforting myths about equality. It’s well-written, thoroughly-researched and very relevant today. Would definitely recommend reading it in conjunction with J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. 

5. Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks 

Sometimes I think that the best cure for post-election depression is a little bit of perspective, which brings me to my final recommendation. Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders is set in 17th century England in a small, isolated village gripped by the plague (how’s that for perspective?) and tells the story of a brave young woman struggling to survive and to prevent the disintegration of her community. While it sounds pretty depressing, this book is actually incredibly uplifting and weirdly relevant to the US election.

Anyway, that’s it from me. Which post-election reads do you recommend?

~Anna

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Anna

Anna. Melbourne. Bookseller. Student. Serial tsundokist.

5 thoughts on “My Top 5 Post-Election Recommendations”

  1. Thank you for deciding to follow my blog. I have a TBR pile a mile high, but I do read the books I buy, I support one independent bookshop in London (UK) in a lovely area called Primrose Hill (sadly no primroses now) but a really, really good bookshop. I no longer live there, but travel right across London for my regular hit.
    Post-Brexit/Trump I have been reading escapist thrillers – I am about to start three books about America: Sebastian Barry – Days Without End, this continues his stories about members of his family and follows one Irish man, Tom McNulty who signs up for the US Army in the 1850s; Paulette Jiles – News of the World, which follows a completely different sort of character, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd carrying news around the States after the Civil War – which if your history is good, you will know also affected Tom McNulty and finally Thomas Mullen – Dark Town, set in Atlanta in 1948, this is a police procedural novel, Dark Town is an area policed by African Americans for African Americans (it is incidentally the area in which Martin Luther King grew up), they are expected to keep everything neat and tidy but they are poorly paid, eight men operate out of a dingy basement and they a expressly forbidden to arrest a white citizen, so what do they do when a black woman is found murdered – last seen with a white man in his car?
    I love Melbourne, I have friends there and come over sometimes.

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I will definitely have to check out that bookstore next time I’m in London – it sounds absolutely charming. As for your post-election TBR list, I can’t say that I’ve read any of them, although I’ve heard very good things about the new Sebastian Barry book. Thanks for the recommendations and happy reading! 🙂

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