The best books on winning socialism in our lifetime

Who am I?

I’ve been a socialist for my entire adult life and a wise-ass for even longer. As a writer I’ve found a way to combine these two passions, using humor to introduce complex economic and political ideas to a new audience, as well as poke fun at politicians, CEOs, and even myself and my fellow activists. Not all of the books on this list use humor the way I do, but they have all helped me keep my sunny disposition by giving me inspiration that the socialist cause is more dynamic and multifaceted than ever. 

I wrote...

Socialism....Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

By Danny Katch,

Book cover of Socialism....Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

What is my book about?

Socialism…Seriously brings together the two great Marxist traditions of Karl and Groucho to provide an entertaining and insightful introduction to what the socialist tradition has to say about democracy, economics, and the potential of human beings to be something more than being bomb-dropping, planet-destroying racist fools.

Danny Katch uses humor and imagination to take an unflinching look at the rising threats posed by climate change, billionaire oligarchs, and the far right—and makes a compelling case that a socialist world is both necessary and possible. This book is for people who want to take a deeper look at what socialism is… but maybe not that deep.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice

Danny Katch Why did I love this book?

The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 introduced many people to the idea of abolishing police and prisons. Mariame Kaba might be the most thoughtful abolitionist organizer. This book of essays is both daring and humble, forward-thinking, and rooted in the everyday lives of young Black and Brown people.

Using simple language to convey profound ideas, Kaba asks if the massive expenditures of money and violence in our criminal justice system actually bring satisfaction and healing to those who are victims of crime. She insists that abolition is about not just ending a failed institution for public safety but also about experimenting with how to create better ones that are based in community and democracy. It’s a book that teaches you how to hope.

By Mariame Kaba,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Do This 'Til We Free Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller

"Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you're going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to."

What if social transformation and liberation isn't about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In…

Book cover of The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth

Danny Katch Why did I love this book?

The Red Nation is a revolutionary Indigenous organization that is part of the historic 21st-century revival of Indigenous culture and political resistance that has emerged across the Americas to block oil pipelines, prevent mining projects, and basically lead the fight to save us all from climate extinction. This is their manifesto.

The Red Deal engages with many of the ideas of the “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, but starts from the standpoint of Indigenous people across the world. As a result, it puts the fight against climate change in the context of 500 years of capitalism and colonialism, and makes an inspiring case why everyone who wants a sustainable economy should support Indigenous people’s fights for their land and freedom.

By The Red Nation,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Red Deal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Red Nation released their call for a Red Deal, it generated coverage in places from Teen Vogue to Jacobin to the New Republic, was endorsed by the DSA, and has galvanized organizing and action.

Now, in response to popular demand, the Red Nation expands their original statement filling in the histories and ideas that formed it and forwarding an even more powerful case for the actions it demands.

One-part visionary platform, one-part practical toolkit, the Red Deal is a platform that encompasses everyone, including non-Indigenous comrades and relatives who live on Indigenous land. We-Indigenous, Black and people of…

Book cover of The Socialist Challenge Today: Syriza, Corbyn, Sanders

Danny Katch Why did I love this book?

Bernie Sanders’ strong presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020 have made millions of people think that socialism in the US is an actual possibility rather than a bizarre science-fiction premise. But what would happen if Bernie won? How would a socialist president deal with government institutions and a business class determined at every stop to undermine them? 

This book looks at the experiences of Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain—as well as the leftist SYRIZA government in Greece—to offer advice on how socialists should start preparing for the challenges of victory that we hope to face.   

By Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, Stephen Maher

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Socialist Challenge Today as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, and Stephen Maher provide a newly updated and expanded primer for twenty-first century democratic socialists. The Socialist Challenge Today presents an essential historical, theoretical, and critical perspective for understanding the potential as well as the limits of three important recent phenomena: the Sanders electoral insurgency in the United States; the Syriza experience in Greece; and Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. The renowned coauthors compellingly convey the importance of developing strategic and practical capacities to democratically transform state structures so as to render them fit for realizing collective democracy, social equality, sustainable…

Book cover of Autoworkers Under the Gun: A Shop-Floor View of the End of the American Dream

Danny Katch Why did I love this book?

Greg Shotwell was a longtime worker at General Motors and activist in the United Auto Workers who was notorious among executives in both the company and union for his rank-and-file newsletter, Live Bait and Ammo. This book is a collection of articles from that newsletter, and it’s a bitingly funny and ultimately heartbreaking account of autoworkers’ losing fight to maintain the rights and living standards that had made the union famous. 

Unlike the other books on my list, this book is the story of a defeat, but it is also a portrait of the generation of working-class fighters who kept alive the radical shop-floor traditions that are an essential component of any socialist vision. This is the book that made me want to become a writer. 

By Gregg Shotwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Autoworkers Under the Gun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an industry under attack, a veteran autoworker offers his take on the collapse of the American dream.

Book cover of People's Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons

Danny Katch Why did I love this book?

In order to have socialism, we need to have a planet on which to be socialists—preferably a planet that isn’t constantly on fire or under water from climate change. So we need to convert our energy systems from fossil fuels to renewables like solar and wind, but as Ashley Dawson argues in this great book, we can’t afford to then let energy corporations start owning sunlight and air the way they do oil and coal. 

People’s Power introduces us to the age-old idea of commonly owned natural resources and looks to modern examples from around the world where cities, towns, and countries and pioneering ways to make the “energy commons” a reality.

By Ashley Dawson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked People's Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The science is conclusive: to avoid irreversible climate collapse, the burning of all fossil fuels will have to end in the next decade. In this concise and highly readable intervention, Ashley Dawson sets out what is required to make this momentous shift: simply replacing coal-fired power plants with for-profit solar energy farms will only maintain the toxic illusion that it is possible to sustain relentlessly expanding energy consumption. We can no longer think of energy as a commodity. Instead we must see it as part of the global commons, a vital element in the great stock of air, water, plants,…

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Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

By Sharman Apt Russell,

Book cover of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

Sharman Apt Russell Author Of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Explorer Runner Mother

Sharman's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Citizen Scientist begins with this extraordinary statement by the Keeper of Entomology at the London Museum of Natural History, “Study any obscure insect for a week and you will then know more than anyone else on the planet.”

As the author chases the obscure Western red-bellied tiger beetle across New Mexico, where she lives, she explores a dozen other citizen science programs with lyrical prose, humor, and a profound sense of connection to place. Diary of a Citizen Scientist celebrates a renewed optimism in the mysteries of the world and a renewed faith in how ordinary people can contribute to science and environmental activism.

Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

By Sharman Apt Russell,

What is this book about?

A critically acclaimed nature writer explores the citizen scientist movement through the lens of entomological field research in the American Southwest.

Award-winning nature writer Sharman Apt Russell felt pressed by the current environmental crisis to pick up her pen yet again. Encouraged by the phenomenon of citizen science, she decided to turn her attention to the Western red-bellied tiger beetle, an insect found widely around the world and near her home in the Gila River Valley of New Mexico.

In a lyrical, often humorous voice, Russell shares her journey across a wild, rural landscape tracking this little-known species, an insect…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in socialism, indigenous peoples, and criminal justice?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about socialism, indigenous peoples, and criminal justice.

Socialism Explore 47 books about socialism
Indigenous Peoples Explore 32 books about indigenous peoples
Criminal Justice Explore 39 books about criminal justice