Book Recs: Books with Political Themes

If you have been following my blog for a while, you probably know that despite being an avid fantasy and romance genre lover, I really enjoy both genre fiction as well as non fiction with strong political themes. And politics for me includes a broad spectrum like actual electoral politics, civil rights and discrimination of marginalized groups, feminism and other gender related topics, the effects of capitalism and corporations – basically anything that affects the lives of individual people or the country as a whole in both the short term as well as the long term. I also really love it when genre books include such important themes but as metaphors to the real world, giving us the opportunity to escape to new worlds but also engage with real life issues.

As such, I have a bunch of books in various genres that I would love to recommend and hope that you’ll enjoy them too.

img_0594 Fiction

red white and royal blue

I think it’s not a surprise that Red, White and Royal Blue is at the top of the list. It doesn’t mean that I think it’s the best or anything, it just happens to be my favorite. And I loved how it explored so many themes like election campaigns and how they don’t always work the way we think they do, the unique struggles of a female presidential candidate (which we have also been living since 2016) and what happens when you add biracial children and homophobia to the mix, and also the importance of having an accepting and supporting family.

a people's future of us

I’m a huge fan of anthologies and A People’s Future of the United States is one of my favorites. It’s full of speculative fiction stories about all the different paths our country might take in the future, and how there are always going to be people who will fight for the rights of those who are being oppressed. It’s powerful, thought provoking and hopeful, and I hope you all will give it a chance.

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Take the Mic is another favorite anthology of mine but this is about youngsters in our world trying to fight both personal and macro level oppressions through resistance everyday in whatever little way they can.

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The Test is a novella which is just around 100 pages but the way it handles the topics of immigration, citizenship and xenophobia and makes us question our own humanity is a complete mindfuck and the author is a master storyteller.

watch us rise

I love books that talk about feminism in any genre and I thought Watch Us Rise has excellent commentary on intersectional feminism as well as body shaming from the perspective of teenage girls and though it could be a bit high handed at times, I really enjoyed this book.

we set the dark on fire

We Set the Dark on Fire is one of my favorite YA fantasies and the way it handles themes like illegal immigration, the refugee crisis, and inane concept of a border wall is excellent and very relatable to our own real world situations.

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This may just feel like a romance novel (which it is and a wonderful one at that), but it explores the much relevant theme of racial profiling of Black people by the police in our country (and discrimination of black and brown people in general) and even though it’s a topic we all are quite aware of, the way author writes it just hits you hard. There’s one particular scene that is especially harrowing and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. Definitely recommend this one for all romance genre fans.

img_0594Non Fiction

Drift is actually a pretty old book which I read a few years ago, but I have a feeling that the topic it deals with – military industrial complex, the bloated budget of the Pentagon and the never ending wars – are still relevant today and it was very eye opening for me.

Blowout on the other hand is about the Oil and Gas industry across the globe and the way this industry has destroyed the lives of millions of people, often with the full support of politicians and governments. This is an expansive book about what happens when unchecked greed in a highly unregulated industry runs rampant and I would highly recommend the audiobook.

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In Why? Explaining the Holocaust, the author goes back a long way in history to trace back the origins of the hatred towards the Jews as a people, all the other groups like the Catholic Church that fanned the flame and how it ultimately culminated in Hitler and the Holocaust. This book is a very informative and thoroughly researched work and I would definitely recommend if you are interested in the topic.

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The Retreat of Western Liberalism was probably one of the first non fiction books I read after the 2016 election and it talks about the fall of liberalism as an ideology and the rise of far-right groups across the globe, and the author also gives some scary scenarios of what might happen in the US as well. It’s an important cautionary tale and while it may feel a bit dated now (a lot has happened in the last three years), I still think parts of it are relevant and worth giving it a try.

Yes She Can

This is a very inspiring and hopeful collection of essays by ten young women who got the opportunity to work in the Obama White House and they talk a lot about what others who are interested in public service can do and what kind of jobs are done daily by the President’s staff. It’s not always as glamorous as shown in TV but it’s very important work and I loved reading this book.

Invisible Women

The first reaction any woman reading Invisible Women will have is anger and exasperation. Anger that sexism has permeated every aspect of society in such deep rooted ways that it’s difficult to even think about how to solve the issues the book talks about; exasperation because even in 2020, we are still second class citizens in many ways we don’t even realize. I don’t wanna give any details but if there’s one book I will highly recommend this Women’s History Month, it is going to be this one. Just pick it up and be ready for your mind to be blown by the unfairness of it all.

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You might be wondering why Burn it Down, a book about women’s anger is political but I believe that historically women have been discouraged from using anger as an effective emotion to express themselves and act of trying to reclaim that anger now is inherently political. This is a collection of essays by authors about how they have used the anger they feel in other productive ways and I promise you, it’s very very relatable. And I think the topic is currently highly relevant because the female candidates for President are always questioned why they are shouting or being shrill or angry, while a male candidate behaving the exact same way never gets any criticism.

Both She Said and Catch and Kill are about the countless women who were sexually harassed and raped by Harvey Weinstein for a number of decades and getting away with it through money, power and intimidation tactics. But other than this particular case, the books also give a glaring look into how men in power use all the money and resources available to them to do whatever they want, and how other people in power aid them to succeed in this harassing behaviour and cover up. They are hard to read, but are amazingly written and are a testament to the courageous survivors who finally decided to speak up and share their traumatic stories. Highly recommend and very relevant after the sentencing he received in New York just about ten days ago and more probable cases being filed in California soon.

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Finally, my last recommendation is a history book but please don’t discount it as boring. When we think of colonialism or imperialism, the countries that come to mind are usually Britain, Spain or other European nations – but we never think of America in the same vein. In How to Hide an Empire, the author reveals the duplicity of our country’s politicians in spouting anti-imperialist platitudes in public while actually occupying many countries and oppressing the colonies in horrible ways – and this is a book that traces the history of American colonies from the 19th century till the present day. This is an eye opening read and something I believe everyone should read just to get an idea of our own country’s often forgotten history.

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Have you already read any of these books? What did you think of them? Have I convinced you to pick any of these? Let me know which of these books interest you the most and why in the comments below….

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