So often books open our eyes to new perspectives. They allow us a glimpse into another person’s life so we can begin to recognize how injustices affect our communities in different and complicated ways. This heightened awareness can spark outrage and can even motivate us to take action. To broaden our perspectives, we’ve compiled a list of books about social justice that grapple with the most pressing issues of our time. From feats of journalism like Finding LatinX to stirring novels like The Underground Railroad, these books will move and inspire you.
There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love edited by Tracy K. Smith and John Freeman
“Written from the inner chambers of the heart, resonating with the questions that keep us up at night, and offering the recognition and generosity. . . . This book is a promise, a solace, a sounding of our cries for justice and need for love. It’s nothing short of essential.” —Literary Hub
Composed of searing letters, essays, poems, and reflections, There’s A Revolution Outside, My Love is a kaleidoscopic portrait of this unprecedented year that brings together some of our most treasured writers today—Edwidge Danticat, Layli Long Soldier, Monica Youn, Julia Alvarez, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor—to reflect on this time of pandemic, protests, violence, and change.
“Remarkable. . . . Kaplan’s engrossing tales of the quiet courage of the women who risked their reputations and freedom to help others may remind many readers of other kinds of outlaws who have resisted tyranny throughout history.”—Chicago Sun-Times
The Story of Jane is the powerful account of the women who founded and ran the legendary Chicago reproductive rights organization Abortion Counseling Service, otherwise known as Jane, written by one of its members. The subject of the acclaimed HBO documentary The Janes, this extraordinary history is a compelling testament to a woman’s most essential freedom—control over her own body—and to the power of women helping women.
“Ramos compels us to reconsider our understanding of what it means to belong.” —Stacey Abrams
Journalist and activist Paola Ramos travels to near and far corners of the country in search of LatinX voices that illustrate a growing movement and represent a community of young Latinos that hold more political, social, and cultural relevance today than ever before.
“Ian is magic. His story is difficult and heartbreaking, but he takes us places we need to go to understand why we must do better.” —Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy
In 1991, Ian Manuel, then fourteen, was sentenced to life without parole for a nonhomicide crime. But as Bryan Stevenson, attorney and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, has insisted, none of us should be judged by only the worst thing we have ever done. Full of unexpected twists and turns, My Time Will Come describes a struggle to attain the glory of redemption.
“Basically the finest essay I’ve ever read. . . . Baldwin refused to hold anyone’s hand. He was both direct and beautiful all at once. He did not seem to write to convince you. He wrote beyond you.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement—and still lights the way to understanding race in America today.
“As useful an exposition of the current dilemmas of the women’s movement as one could hope for.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review
From the widely revered and legendary political activist and scholar Angela Davis, Women, Race & Class is a powerful study of the women’s liberation movement in the United States, from abolitionist days to the present, that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders.
“[A] vastly ambitious informing allegory, an allegory made rich, as in Invisible Man, with the sensory details of which Ellison was such a master.” —The New York Review of Books
From Ralph Ellison, an American master and author of the classic novel Invisible Man, Juneteenth is a brilliantly crafted, moving, and wise novel. This new edition includes a new introduction by National Book Award–winning author Charles R. Johnson.
“Shares perspectives that are too often missing from such decision-making about accessibility.” — The Washington Post
A groundbreaking collection of first-person writing on the joys and challenges of the modern disability experience: Disability Visibility brings together the voices of activists, authors, lawyers, politicians, artists, and everyday people whose daily lives are, in the words of playwright Neil Marcus, “an art . . . an ingenious way to live.”
Now an original Amazon Prime Video series directed by Barry Jenkins, The Underground Railroad is Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning, National Book Award–winning, Oprah–anointed, number-one New York Times bestselling novel that explores America’s troubled racial past as only he can.
“[An] extraordinary and evocative work.”—The Washington Post
In this bestselling, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of Black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life.
“So precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry.” —The New York Times
Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison powerfully examines our obsession with beauty and conformity—and asks questions about race, class, and gender with her characteristic subtlety and grace.
“Nuanced and rousing.” —Vogue
In this personal, eloquently argued essay—adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. We Should All Be Feminists is a highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller from the award-winning, bestselling author of Americanah.
“A deft and uniquely credible exploration of rural America, and of other left-behind pockets of our country. One of the most important books I’ve read on the state of our disunion.” —Tara Westover, author of Educated
With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope addresses the crisis in working-class America while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure. This must-read book “shows how we can and must do better” (Katie Couric).