When I think of November, I often think of feasting. I mean, who doesn’t?! And while food and a wonderful meal are definitely something to look forward to at the end of the month, there are other meaningful events to be excited for. So let’s all exercise our right to vote, honor those who have served our country, and be thankful for our friends and family. Keeping these events in mind, I’ve compiled a list of reading material covering voting and the election, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving. This November, read about these significant days and mull over what you can be thankful for.
- “Give Us the Ballot: Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America” by Ari Berman
Voting is an American right, right? Berman begs to differ. “Give Us the Ballot” examines the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and how it’s viewed as a massive accomplishment of the Civil Rights Movement, enabling millions of Americans who had previously been shut out, to gather at the voting booths. So why do some of these people still struggle to use their voice in elections and why are many legislators still trying to sway admittance at polling places? If you’re able to vote, please do so. We hope to see you at the booths Nov. 3!
- “Why We’re Polarized” by Ezra Klein
The American political system is broken. At least this has been often discussed and what some want you to believe. However, Klein peels back the layers revealing the in-depth workings of the two-party system. He examines the intentions during the founding of American politics, addresses how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to major shifting within the parties, how media has played a role, and even discusses the rise of Trump and the ever leftward movement of the Democratic Party. Ultimately, Klein dives deep into the idea of identity politics and how they are at the core of American political agendas. This is definitely an insightful and timely read.
- “The Voting Booth” by Brandy Colbert
If you maybe want some lighter reading after the turbulence of the election or you want a book to get your teens excited about voting, definitely checkout Colbert’s “The Voting Booth.” The story follows two young voters: Marva, who is so excited to cast her vote and can’t wait a second longer, and Duke, who is ready to fill in his ballot and move on with his day. Their paths cross after Duke is turned away from the polling place and Marva takes it upon herself to make sure no one is denied their right and that his vote counts. The two spend the day running all over town in their attempts, sparking a connection between them.
- “The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers
Private Bartle made a promise to his friend’s mother: that he would not let Murph die in the Iraq war. Bartle and Murph also make a pact to one another to not be 1,000th casualty in the war. But as their platoon charges to battle to take the city of Al Tafar, the reality of war sets in as they witness gruesome horrors and are forced to make unbelievable decisions. Although Bartle lives to see home again, he finds that surviving the war was only half the battle. “The Yellow Birds” examines the effects of PTSD and is an ode to those who bravely served in the Iraq War.
- “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
This semi-autobiographical collection of short stories chronicles O’Brien’s experiences in the Vietnam War. Using vignette-like chapters, he dissects the things he witnessed in Vietnam, from losing many of his comrades during their service in the Alpha Company, how some of the soldiers chose to deal with the anxiety and trauma, and reliving the moment O’Brien received his draft notice. As one of the prominent American authors of his generation, O’Brien has also become a powerful voice in military literature and is a standout of those relaying the experiences of the Vietnam War.
- “Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War” by Helen Thorpe
The experiences of military women are distinctly different from their male counterparts. Using her impressive journalism skills, Thorpe hones in on the unique experiences of three women serving in the U.S. military over a twelve year period. During this time, readers follow these soldiers through multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and their time back home on U.S. soil and the struggles that come with reintegration. Readers are drawn into the lives of these women as they cope with the separation from their children and families, how they deal with the men both in their camp and in war zones, and how they heal from the physical, mental, and emotional trauma of modern day combat.
- “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng
Ng’s popular novel has readers questioning the different modes of parenting. Is there a right or wrong way? What makes a parent? What makes a family? “Little Fires Everywhere” follows the Richardson family: four beautiful high school-aged children who seem to have it all, their successful lawyer father, and their put together mother, Elena. The Richardsons live a seemingly perfect life, that is until single mother Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl move to town and begin renting a duplex from Elena. It quickly becomes clear that Mia’s artistic and transient lifestyle doesn’t sit well with Elena and vice versa, causing their differences to spill out onto those around them and shaking the picturesque community of Shaker Heights to its core.
- “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich
Set on fictional reservations of the Ojibwe tribe in North Dakota, “Love Medicine” follows members of several families and how their lives intertwine. With each chapter being told from the perspective of a different character, this is a familial epic story spanning decades, from the 1930s through the 1980s. Erdrich incorporates themes of identity, home, belonging, and folklore to illustrate the bonds of family and Native American Culture. Winner of the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award, “Love Medicine” is a November must-read!
- “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant” by Anne Tyler
After her husband abandons the family, Pearl tries her hardest to put on a brave face for her children and keep them tightly knit together. Cody, the oldest, is bold and outgoing but harbors resentment towards his younger brother Ezra, who is softer and whom Cody believes to be their mother’s favorite. Their differences cause many family rifts and often hinders their chances of having a brotherly relationship. Jenny is the most studious while also being the most passionate, searching for her own definition of happiness. But when Pearl lay dying, will the siblings be able to come together but overcome the difficulties of their childhood?
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