Book Club in the Time of Trump
Why a Book Club?
Everything feels weightier, now. At least for me. Even how I choose to have fun feels like an epic decision, needs to somehow be justified. While I don’t think that’s a healthy relationship to have with literally everything (I’m working on toning it down so I don’t give myself an aneurism by thirty), I do think that the way we read is a really important piece of our resistance. Consuming media written from a paradigm that isn’t our own increases our empathy, and consuming dense or difficult media is like lifting weights for our brains. We must start directing that reading list to grapple with our current political climate. No longer can book club be the latest vampire YA novel (or at least, no longer can that be the ONLY book club we do). And for those of us who aren’t book club people, we can no longer read our radical texts, relevant novels and pertinent essays in silence. We need to share them with our community and strengthen our ability to think and speak critically about what we’ve taken in. So yes, form your Indivisible Groups but also form your book club. Your Book Club In The Time of Trump. It’s really important.
And I’m here to help you. Once monthly, we’ll announce our book club pick. You’ll have the month to read it with your tiny goblin army (that’s what I call my Indivisible Group), and then bam, questions will pop up on Argot for you to discuss with your tiny goblin army and here in the comments. Like magic. It’ll make reading for the resistance way easier than if you had to plan it out yourself.
Our March Book
Rather than going obvious and starting with 1984 (though I’m SURE we’ll get there, I haven’t read that sucker since high school), we’re going to start with something published specifically in response to President Trump and his white nationalist administration. Melville House (who ain’t taking no bullshit, no siree) published What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America, edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians. It’s a collection of essays, remarks and other ephemera from some of the United States’ most well-known academics, authors, politicians and activists. In one book, it fulfills the mission of diverse consumption with pieces from Elizabeth Warren, Brittany Packnett, Linda Sarsour, Gloria Steinem, George Saunders and, like, a shitton more. It’s also perfect for an Indivisible Group because it’s split into issues—a quick gander at the table of contents reveals sections on setting a new liberal agenda, racial justice, immigration, LGBTQ rights, climate change and (you guessed it) a shitton more.
There’s going to be something for every member of your group to care about. Maybe you can even get different people to lead the discussion by section!
Okay, So What Other Sorts of Books Are You Gonna Pick?
Well, my list includes books across all genres—poetry, criticism, fiction, memoirs, even comics. But it also only includes things I think of. If you’ve got a suggestion, please get at me on Twitter! Include the hashtag #argotbookclub so I can pick ‘em out real easy and auto-compile them. Let’s read!
Ali Osworth is Geekery Editor at Autostraddle, Managing Editor at Barnard Center for Research On Women’s Scholar and Feminist Online, and Part-Time Faculty at The New School, where she teaches digital storytelling. She’s writing a novel about GamerGate, which is really depressing. Follow her on Twitter or on Instagram.