100 books like Our Time Is Now

By Stacey Abrams,

Here are 100 books that Our Time Is Now fans have personally recommended if you like Our Time Is Now. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Johannes Lenhard Author Of Making Better Lives: Hope, Freedom and Home-Making among People Sleeping Rough in Paris

From my list on understanding poverty today, from the bottom up.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anthropologist and studied homelessness in Paris and London for the last decade. I was drawn into the world of people on the streets when I moved to London and started observing their parallel world. I spent almost a year with people on the street in London and two years in Paris. I volunteered in day centers, safe injection facilities, and soup kitchens and slept in a homeless shelter. Since I finished my first book on my observations in Paris, I have advised both policymakers on homelessness and written countless journalistic articles. My goal is always to provide a clearer picture of homelessness through the eyes of the people themselves. 

Johannes' book list on understanding poverty today, from the bottom up

Johannes Lenhard Why did Johannes love this book?

I met Matthew Desmond before he became one of the youngest Professors with his own center at Princeton University. He was visiting London, had just published his first book, and was still finishing the research for this book.

Desmond did an enormous amount of field research; he spent months living in a trailer park, on top of thousands of hours in archives and courtrooms where eviction cases are decided. The result is the best book I have ever read about poverty.

What happens when ‘normal people’ get evicted? Desmond’s story is rich and personal, and that is what we need: we need to understand the lives of poor people better in order to finally decide that we must change the systems that put them there. 

By Matthew Desmond,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Evicted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION*
'Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and unforgettable ... If you want a good understanding of how the issues that cause poverty are intertwined, you should read this book' Bill Gates, Best Books of 2017

Arleen spends nearly all her money on rent but is kicked out with her kids in Milwaukee's coldest winter for years. Doreen's home is so filthy her family call it 'the rat hole'. Lamar, a wheelchair-bound ex-soldier, tries to work his way out of debt for his boys. Scott, a nurse turned addict, lives in a gutted-out trailer. This is…


Book cover of Solitary

Abigail Leslie Andrews Author Of Banished Men: How Migrants Endure the Violence of Deportation

From my list on the criminalization of immigrant men.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a scholar of gender and state violence, and I live and work at the US-Mexico border. For the past several years, I’ve worked collaboratively with large teams of Latinx-identified students to study the impacts of US immigration policies on migrants from Mexico and Central America. We realized that even though about half of immigrants are women, around 95% of deportees are men. So, we started to think about how US policies criminalize immigrant men. I became especially interested in how immigration enforcement (at the border and beyond) intersects with mass incarceration. In the list, I pick up books that trace the multinational reach of the carceral apparatus that comes to treat migrants as criminals.

Abigail's book list on the criminalization of immigrant men

Abigail Leslie Andrews Why did Abigail love this book?

This is Albert Woodfox’s shocking and amazing life history of spending most of his life in Angola, the most brutal prison in Louisiana.

It’s an exposé of prison brutality and dehumanization. But it’s also a stunning account of his own courage and spirit. On top, the writing is sparse, stark, and beautiful. 

By Albert Woodfox,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Solitary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Praise for Solitary:

FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE IN GENERAL NONFICTION
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN NONFICTION
Named One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019
Winner of the Stowe Prize
Named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Publishers Weekly, BookBrowse, and Literary Hub
Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Debut of 2019
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

“An uncommonly powerful memoir about four decades in confinement . . . A profound book about…


Book cover of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America

Pat Libby Author Of The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You

From my list on inspiring you to make a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve dedicated my life to repairing the world. This work has taken on many forms – helping low-income people grow community gardens for food and beauty, providing fuel subsidies that helped people combat frigid New England winters, and working on building affordable housing and economic development programs in rural and urban communities. Ultimately, these experiences brought me to create graduate programs where students could learn how to lead healthy nonprofit organizations. Part of their education involved learning how to pass laws based on my own successful experience. I realized then that I had a passion for providing everyday citizens with simple tools they too could use to make a difference.    

Pat's book list on inspiring you to make a difference

Pat Libby Why did Pat love this book?

Reading a book about people taking prescribed drugs end up being swallowed whole by addiction is heartbreaking. Realizing how easily kids can fall into that trap is terrifying. Knowing that much of that agony is fueled by aggressive profit-seeking is infuriating. Amidst the pain of this well-told story are heroes fighting to stop the onslaught. It reminds us that on the knife’s edge of life, it’s way too easy to fall to either side.   

By Beth Macy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Dopesick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Journalist Beth Macy's definitive account of America's opioid epidemic "masterfully interlaces stories of communities in crisis with dark histories of corporate greed and regulatory indifference" (New York Times) -- from the boardroom to the courtroom and into the living rooms of Americans.
In this extraordinary work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of a national drama that has unfolded over two decades. From the labs and marketing departments of big pharma to local doctor's offices; wealthy suburbs to distressed small communities in Central Appalachia; from distant cities to once-idyllic farm towns; the spread of opioid addiction follows a tortuous…


Book cover of Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest

Pat Libby Author Of The Empowered Citizens Guide: 10 Steps to Passing a Law that Matters to You

From my list on inspiring you to make a difference.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve dedicated my life to repairing the world. This work has taken on many forms – helping low-income people grow community gardens for food and beauty, providing fuel subsidies that helped people combat frigid New England winters, and working on building affordable housing and economic development programs in rural and urban communities. Ultimately, these experiences brought me to create graduate programs where students could learn how to lead healthy nonprofit organizations. Part of their education involved learning how to pass laws based on my own successful experience. I realized then that I had a passion for providing everyday citizens with simple tools they too could use to make a difference.    

Pat's book list on inspiring you to make a difference

Pat Libby Why did Pat love this book?

The world is filled with problems to be ignored or tackled. Voting rights, affordable housing, prison reform, healthcare reform, corporate responsibility… the list is endless. The first step to solving a problem is understanding it. The next step is having a strategy that shows you how you can make real change. Consensus Organizing does just that. It provides the reader with a seemingly incompatible combination of fascinating, fun, and in-depth explanations of how to organize effectively for social change. Eichler is a master storyteller and a masterful organizer. Best of all, he makes his model accessible for anyone who wants to roll up their sleeves.        

By Michael P. Eichler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Consensus Organizing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Empowering a community takes more than organizing and mobilizing its people; it takes a simple, yet radical, notion that consensus can be reached by creating mutual self interest between key individuals in the community and players of interest. In Consensus Organizing: Building Communities of Mutual Self Interest, author Mike Eichler shows how even poor and disempowered communities can achieve lasting results by implementing some key consensus organizing strategies. Through personal, lively, and relevant examples, Eichler takes the reader on a road trip through various communities and shows how collectively they were able to reach lasting results by finding key areas…


Book cover of What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?: True Stories of Imagination and Courage

Jared Neusch and Connor Shram Author Of Jesus vs. the Bad Guys

From my list on Christian children’s books on peacemaking.

Why we are passionate about this?

We are two dads, both with three kids, who are on a journey of trying our best to raise our kids in the way of Jesus. Of particular interest to us both is exploring how Jesus overcomes evil. Does He beat up the bad guys like superheroes do? Does He drop bombs on them, like nations do? With all the struggles kids experience at school—and everything they hear about evil occurring around the world—we think it’s important for kids to learn how Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, even from the earliest ages.

Jared and Connor's book list on Christian children’s books on peacemaking

Jared Neusch and Connor Shram Why did Jared and Connor love this book?

Every parent sees how perceptive their kids are, especially when it comes to significant world events. Kids will often become aware of major conflicts happening around the world–and they don’t necessarily have the right tools to process the images they’re seeing or the political ideas they’re hearing. By the time they’re old enough to form their own viewpoint, they sadly might not be able to imagine other possibilities.

But this book has been particularly delightful to read to my kids because it revisits major historical events and highlights creative solutions that people have pursued throughout history. It shows how peacemakers used their imagination in creative, nonviolent resistance throughout history. And then kids can steer those God-given imaginations toward the work of peace.

By Heather Camlot, Serge Bloch (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

What if the impossible were actually possible? What if we turned our dreams into action? What if our imagination could help solve real-world crises, like war, famine, and human rights violations?

Through a series of seemingly whimsical questions, this middle-grade nonfiction book introduces readers to people and organizations that are subverting violence, war, and totalitarian power. What if soldiers refused to carry weapons? What if fighter pilots dropped seeds instead of bombs? What if music could be a creative force for democracy? None of these ideas are impossible―in fact, they are all true historical examples of ideas that have been…


Book cover of State and Revolution in Cuba: Mass Mobilization and Political Change, 1920-1940

Ariel Mae Lambe Author Of No Barrier Can Contain It: Cuban Antifascism and the Spanish Civil War

From my list on understanding Cuba’s turbulent 1930s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a history major when I left for a Havana study abroad semester in 2003, but I had not studied Cuba. My introduction was a University of Havana class on the period of the Cuban Republic, in which I sat surrounded by Cuban students. My classroom learning was aided by the public history representations all around me in the city. I was hooked. I wrote my undergraduate thesis at Yale on Cuban activist intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a few years later went on the begin my doctorate in Latin American History at Columbia. I have been a historian of Cuba ever since, 20 years.

Ariel's book list on understanding Cuba’s turbulent 1930s

Ariel Mae Lambe Why did Ariel love this book?

Robert Whitney’s classic work on popular politics in Cuba from 1920 to 1940 is a must for the reader interested in the history of Cuba’s 1930s, especially Cuba’s “other revolution,” the Revolution of 1933. The book covers an absolutely crucial time in the island’s political evolution, and yet this time period is too often glossed over between interest in the Cuban Wars of Independence on the one hand and the Cuban Revolution of 1959 on the other. Whitney’s book, however, follows the politics of the island from the high corruption of 1920, through anti-dictatorial and anti-imperialist struggles, to the triumphant (if short-lived) arrival of constitutional democracy in 1940. An important scholar of Fulgencio Batista, Whitney traces the Cuban leader’s political twists and turns during the era, beginning with his critical role as a revolutionary in the 1933 uprising.

By Robert Whitney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked State and Revolution in Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Illuminates a critical period in Cuba's political evolution Between 1920 and 1940, Cuba underwent a remarkable transition, moving from oligarchic rule to a nominal constitutional democracy. The events of this period are crucial to a full understanding of the nation's political evolution, yet they are often glossed over in accounts that focus more heavily on the revolution of 1959. With this book, Robert Whitney accords much-needed attention to a critical stage in Cuban history. Closely examining the upheavals of the period, which included a social revolution in 1933 and a military coup led by Fulgencio Batista one year later, Whitney…


Book cover of Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

Srdja Popovic Author Of Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World

From my list on teaching you how to change society for better.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm super passionate about educating people on how to empower themselves and change the world. I do a lot of different things for a living. And my organization CANVAS works with the groups who are involved in the pro-democracy struggles and “art of the revolution.” Starting as a student activist in my homeland, ruled by ruthless dictator Slobodan Milosevic, I was blessed to meet and work with some of the most courageous people. Throughout the last 25 years, I've tried to capture, share, and transfer successful tools common people may use in order to address injustice, inequality, or small tangible problems through mobilizing their peers – and thus make their communities or the world a better place.

Srdja's book list on teaching you how to change society for better

Srdja Popovic Why did Srdja love this book?

Rocking the activist world for more than 30 years, Saul Alinsky's inspiring book takes you through the main concept of understanding what drives social change. Why anger is important to move people, but destructive force per se? Why do we also need hope to drive positive change? And how the pathway to revolution is paved by small tangible victories, Alinsky has it all!

By Saul D. Alinsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rules for Radicals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This country's leading hell-raiser" (The Nation) shares his impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.”

First published in 1971 and written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American…


Book cover of Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe to the Other Side

Zachary Elwood Author Of Defusing American Anger: A Guide to Understanding Our Fellow Citizens and Reducing Us-vs-Them Polarization

From my list on healing the political divides in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

For my psychology podcast, I’ve interviewed many political and psychology experts on the subject of political polarization and conflict resolution. That led to me writing my book Defusing American Anger. I believe extreme us-vs-them polarization is humanity’s biggest problem: I see it as an existential threat not just to specific nations, including America, but to humanity as a whole, especially as our weapons and technologies get more powerful. And I think we need more people working on reducing our seemingly natural tendency to always be fighting with each other. 

Zachary's book list on healing the political divides in America

Zachary Elwood Why did Zachary love this book?

Talisse does a great job putting our divides in the context of the fundamental problem of democracy.

How can we maintain democratic principles when we see the "other side" as very wrong, or even as dangerous? Should we maintain those principles? What do we owe our fellow citizens even when we see them as very flawed?  

In addition to these hard and important questions, Talisse focuses on a less examined negative aspect of polarization: us-vs-them animosity makes us less able to get along even with people who are politically similar to us. We become more fractured even on "our side," and less able to do the basic work of politics.

By Robert B. Talisse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sustaining Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Democracy is not easy. Citizens who disagree sharply about politics must nonetheless work together as equal partners in the enterprise of collective self-government. Ideally, this work would be conducted under conditions of mutual civility, with opposed citizens nonetheless recognizing one another's standing as political equals. But when the political stakes are high, and the opposition seems to us severely mistaken, why not drop the democratic pretences of civil
partnership, and simply play to win? Why seek to uphold properly democratic relations with those who embrace political ideas that are flawed, irresponsible, and out of step with justice? Why sustain democracy…


Book cover of All Politics Is Local: Why Progressives Must Fight for the States

Raina Lipsitz Author Of The Rise of a New Left: How Young Radicals Are Shaping the Future of American Politics

From my list on American politics for open-minded readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with politics and social justice since I was a kid, have been writing professionally for over a decade, and have twice interviewed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I wrote The Rise of a New Left because I was covering a new generation of political candidates who were challenging old orthodoxies, and I was curious about the leftward shift in U.S. politics: where it came from, who was driving it, how deep it went, and how durable it might be. I try to convey a broader and more nuanced view of the American left and give young women and people of color the credit they deserve for reinvigorating it.

Raina's book list on American politics for open-minded readers

Raina Lipsitz Why did Raina love this book?

A timely and well-researched look at the right’s successful, decades-long strategy of capturing state legislatures, this book sounds the alarm—and points to a crucial path forward. I love that Winter succeeds where many academic authors have failed: she has written a book that’s both deeply informative and fun to read. I especially appreciate her concrete and practical approach to moving the United States in a more progressive direction; anyone can point out that the right is, by many measures, winning, but it takes real talent to show us what we can do about it.

By Meaghan Winter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Politics Is Local as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the 2016 election, the Republican Party seized control not just of the White House and Congress but of many state governments. To be precise, the GOP seized control of both legislative chambers in 32 states and governor offices in 33 states-a majority the party hadn't held since 1928. What happened?

In In the Red, journalist Meaghan Winter argues that over the last couple decades, the Democratic Party has made a very risky strategic choice to abandon state and local races in order to win federal races, while the GOP poured money into winning state governor seats and state congresses.…


Book cover of Citizens: Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us

Cath Bishop Author Of The Long Win: The Search for a Better Way to Succeed

From my list on reframing success to sustain high performance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the question of ‘what does success look like’ throughout my life: from growing up, to becoming an Olympic rower, to working as a diplomat in high-pressure situations and conflict-affected environments, to becoming a parent, and now my current work as a leadership and culture coach in organisations across business, sport, and education. History and social conventions have led us to define success in ever narrower ways; I wanted to help us understand that and redefine success more meaningfully, for the long-term. I think it’s a question in all our minds - I hope you enjoy the books on this list as you reflect on what success looks like for you!

Cath's book list on reframing success to sustain high performance

Cath Bishop Why did Cath love this book?

Fascinated as I am with definitions of success across society, from sport to business, education to politics, Jon Alexander’s book really fired my brain up with how we could reinvent our political systems in order to better address the challenges of our time. 

Politics is the area where I have found that definitions of success – dominated by winning elections in the short-term – get in the way of effective performance, in this case, governing countries.

Jon Alexander uses practical examples from around the world to show how we could rethink our role as citizens and proactively create collaborative, caring, creative communities, organisations, and nations.

By Jon Alexander, Ariane Conrad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Citizens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

MCKINSEY TOP 5 RECOMMENDED READ

'An underground hit' - Best Politics Books, Financial Times

'Jon has one of the few big ideas that's easily applied' - Sam Conniff, Be More Pirate

'A wonderful guide to how to be human in the 21st Century' - Ece Temelkuran, How to Lose a Country: the Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship

Description

Citizens opens up a new way of understanding ourselves and shows us what we must do to survive and thrive as individuals, organisations, and nations.

Over the past decade, Jon Alexander's consultancy, the New Citizenship Project, has helped revitalise some of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in corruption, elections, and presidential biography?

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