It’s late but we can always make a book list, right?
Good Reads lets me document the books I read in a year. Of the books I read in 2020, I have some favorites – only because they taught me to think of the world in a different way, or articulated a feeling that I’ve always had in such a beautiful way or was inspiring. Here are my top 10. I am not committed to the order, by the way 🙂
- Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
Have you ever felt your heart thumping with passion because what you read made you realize something deeply fundamental about the world and yourself? That’s Fanon for you.
- Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression by Robin Kelley
The Communists organized in the South in the 1930s-40s. If ever I had any doubts about how culture, identity, anti-racism, and class struggle can come together, this book dissipated them all. This book introduced me to the Souther Worker, a Communist paper from the South. I read one issue and realized why the Communist Party in the South was majority African American.
- How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s not a book you read, it’s a book you practice with. My favorite quote here.
- Scripting the Change by Anuradha Ghandy
All the essays were enlightening but the essay Philosophical Trends in the Feminist Movement is one of the most comprehensive essays I’ve read on the feminist struggle. I am using this essay whenever I am teaching gender next.
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
Example after example, she shows how every time African Americans make advances, white reaction erupts. After the fascist attack in DC, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book.
- Thick by Tressie Mcmillan Cottom
The book is great but the essay In the Name of Beauty is simply phenomenal. It’s such an authentic discussion about beauty and race.
- Comrade by Jodi Dean
Comrade is one of my favorite words. There’s a section in the book that differentiates between an ally and a comrade. I read it and jumped up and down with “right? right? you know what I mean, Jodi!”
- Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights by Molly Smith and Juno Mac.
Written by sex workers themselves, this book gave me the most clarity about how to think about sex work. The question of whether sex work is particularly exploitative, is based on the assumption that many other jobs under capitalism are less exploitative. It’s written with so much clarity, it’s amazing!
- Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir by Ather Zia.
This book is a moving portrayal of the courage, the helplessness, and persistence of Kashmiri families against state violence as they search for their loved ones forcibly disappeared by India’s military occupation. I didn’t know much about the subject. As someone coming from India, I think Indians should learn more about what their government is doing to Kashmiris. Review here.
- Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples by Linda Tuhiwai Smith
It’s not often that a book on research methodologies feels this enriching to the soul. It is not often that you read an unapologetic call for research to be beneficial to the oppressed. Especially given how research has been the tool that legitimized imperialism and colonialism. Review here.
Of all the books I read in 2020, I would have to read some books again to make sense of it. Some, I read it again in 2020 and did not include in the top 10. But I’m glad I read them all.
Let me add one other thing. Not a book. A podcast episode. One of the most powerful things I came across in 2020.
Abolishing Prisons with Mariame Kaba in Why is this happening? with Chris Hayes
If you have had ANY doubts about prison abolition, you have to listen to Mariame Kaba in this episode. Her clarity, compassion, purpose, and focus is what we all need.
So, that’s my list. What’s yours? 🙂