Share 12 Books to Read at the Start of a New Administration

12 Books to Read at the Start of a New Administration

Erica Nelson works in marketing at Hachette Book Group.

As we envision the future of our country, we’re seeking out brilliant and diverse voices to help us understand the challenges that we face—to understand what problems need solving, and what we can do to help make peoples’ lives better. These 12 books show just a sliver of American experiences and history, but they are resources that we as citizens—and our newly elected leaders—can turn to. They help us to understand how we’ve gotten to where we are today and grasp the consequences of how decisions made today will shape our future.

by Sam Quinones

In 2014, more than 47,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. To put that in perspective, that’s about 128 deaths every day. DREAMLAND tells the riveting story behind this rising statistic—how the unfettered prescribing of pain medications like OxyContin, and the massive influx of cheap and potent black tar heroin, have assaulted communities across America.

Muslim Girl
by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

This harrowing and candid memoir from the founder of is a Muslim American’s coming-of-age story in the wake of 9/11. In MUSLIM GIRL, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh shares an honest and deeply necessary counterpoint to Islamophobia and the current rhetoric about the Middle East.

Just Like Us
by Helen Thorpe

JUST LIKE US is a powerful account of four young Mexican American women coming of age in Denver. All 4 girls were born in Mexico and have grown up in the United States, but only 2 have documents. Helen Thorpe offers insight into both the most powerful and the most vulnerable members of American society as they grapple with the same dilemma: Who gets to live in America? And what happens when we don’t agree?

Becoming Nicole
by Amy Ellis Nutt

The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all. From the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter Amy Ellis Nutt, BECOMING NICOLE is a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and inspires readers to do the same.

Nickel and Dimed
by Barbara Ehrenreich

In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich joined the millions of Americans who work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In NICKEL AND DIMED she works as a waitress, as a cleaning woman, as a nursing home aide, and in a Walmart—but when she works two jobs, seven days a week, she still struggles to pay rent and buy groceries. Her stunning account shows just how hard it can be to make ends meet in working-class America.

All American Boys
by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

In this Coretta Scott King Honor Award–winning novel, 2 teens—one black, and one white—grapple with the repercussions of an act of police brutality. Caught on camera, the violence sends shock waves throughout their school, their community, and ultimately the entire country. It’s a heartbreaking novel that seems ripped from the headlines.

A Curious Mind
by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman
This fascinating and inspiring book by renowned film and TV producer Brian Grazer celebrates inquisitiveness and the ways in which it deepens and improves us. By asking questions about other people’s experiences and knowledge and, in particular, listening to people we disagree with, the power of curiosity can be a positive force of change in everyone’s life.

This Changes Everything
by Naomi Klein
This gripping, eye-opening text successfully argues that in order to combat climate change, a restructuring of the global economy is required. Naomi Klein demonstrates—in comprehensible language—that by reducing our greenhouse emissions, we can not only help the planet but also improve our political and economic systems.

Freedom of Speech
by David K. Shipler

A provocative, timely assessment of the state of free speech in America by Pulitzer Prize–winning former New York Times journalist David K. Shipler. Anchored in personal stories—sometimes shocking, sometimes absurd, sometimes dishearteningly familiar—Shipler’s investigations of the cultural limits on both expression and the willingness to listen build to expose troubling instabilities in the very foundations of our democracy.

by Phil Klay
Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this National Book Award–winning short story collection takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In REDEPLOYMENT, Phil Klay reveals the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship, and violence that make up a soldier’s daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier’s homecoming.

by Dave Cullen
With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, Dave Cullen illustrates how the Columbine High School shootings left an indelible stamp on the American psyche—and how it became the template for nearly 2 decades of “spectacle murders.” In the wake of Orlando, Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech, the imperative to understand the crime that sparked this plague grows more urgent every year.

Team of Rivals
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
In TEAM OF RIVALS, acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius and his extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln, as president, to bring his disgruntled opponents together to create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the Civil War.

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