10 books like The Assignment

By Liza Wiemer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Assignment. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of The Grapes of Wrath

I’m always shocked at how many must-reads and banned-books lists Steinbeck’s masterpiece shows up on. The term “okie” still rubs some people the wrong way, feeling that stigma their (and even my) grandparents felt at struggling through the Dust Bowl and another wave of agricultural depression in the 1950s. Steinbeck gives a captivating portrayal of the experience living in or leaving Oklahoma, but it’s the interspersed chapters with other perspectives that always linger in my mind, whether the tractor-driver for the factory-farm that sold out his people for $3.00 (thirty silver dimes) or the waitress who lies about candy being two-for-a-penny instead of five cents each so some kids can buy them. People are capable of the greatest purposeful good or the worst indifferent evil.

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Grapes of Wrath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.'

Shocking and controversial when it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath is Steinbeck's Pultizer Prize-winning epic of the Joad family, forced to travel west from Dust Bowl era Oklahoma in search of the promised land of California. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and powerlessness, yet out of their struggle Steinbeck created a drama that is both intensely human and majestic in its scale and moral vision.


Tyrell

By Coe Booth,

Book cover of Tyrell

Booth is an extraordinary writer and Tyrell is her signature story. Tyrell is a young man living under incredible pressure with a family that needs him to have both feet on the ground. But he's always on the verge of going the wrong way. Will the need for fast money put him in prison like his father? Booth is in complete command of her characters, story and pacing here. A marvelous book that will make you grateful for your own choices in life.

Tyrell

By Coe Booth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An astonishing new voice in teen literature, writing what is sure to be one of the most talked-about debuts of the year.

Tyrell is a young African-American teen who can't get a break. He's living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. His father's in jail. His girlfriend supports him, but he doesn't feel good enough for her -- and seems to be always on the verge of doing the wrong thing around her. There's another girl at the homeless shelter who is also after him, although the desires there are complicated. Tyrell feels…


Stay with Me

By Paul Griffin,

Book cover of Stay with Me

Griffin is an incredibly sensitive and revealing writer who touches raw emotions. This is my favorite title of his. It's an urban romance between two teens who seemingly don't belong together, bolstered by an incredible bond with a dog. Read it. Love it. Then find yourself wondering what other gems Griffin has penned.

Stay with Me

By Paul Griffin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking urban romance from award-winning author Paul Griffin

Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn't expect to fall in love. She's a sensitive A student; he's a high school dropout. But soon they're spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until Mack makes a horrible mistake, and suddenly the future they'd planned becomes impossible. In this stark new reality, both of them must find hope in the memories of what they had, to survive when the person they love can't stay.


Whale Talk

By Chris Crutcher,

Book cover of Whale Talk

I once traveled in a compact car across Michigan with Crutcher, my wife, and daughter. His conversation was as magnificent as his prose. Whale Talk brings together a group of high school misfits that comprise their school's swim team. Guess what? The school doesn't have a pool, which is fine because only one of them can swim anyway. Read and enjoy a master at work in Crutcher.

Whale Talk

By Chris Crutcher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A truly exceptional book."-Washington Post

There's bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don't have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway. Bestselling author Chris Crutcher's controversial and acclaimed novel follows a group of outcasts as they take on inequality and injustice in their high school.

"Crutcher's superior gifts as a storyteller and his background as a working therapist combine to make magic in Whale Talk. The thread of truth in his fiction reminds us that heroes can come in any shape,…


Between Dignity and Despair

By Marion A. Kaplan,

Book cover of Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany

How did Nazi antisemitism affect German Jews? To answer this question Marion Kaplan delves into the social, domestic, and emotional lives of the persecuted one-percent minority. She reveals how Jews felt when hit with yet another restrictive or punitive measure, when neighbors and friends turned away, when deportation loomed. Crucially, the pioneering feminist historian distinguishes between male and female experiences. Having been less involved in professional and public life, women reacted more flexibly to an unprecedented situation than their menfolk. They were less tied to German culture and more capable of grasping the new realities. Even so, when couples and families finally decided to emigrate, it was often too late: potential host countries were reluctant to allow them in, and Nazi antisemitism soon turned into a policy of mass murder. 

Between Dignity and Despair

By Marion A. Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Between Dignity and Despair draws on the extraordinary memoirs, diaries, interviews, and letters of Jewish women and men to give us the first intimate portrait of Jewish life in Nazi Germany.
Kaplan tells the story of Jews in Germany not from the hindsight of the Holocaust, nor from the vantage of the persecutors, but from the bewildered and ambiguous perspective of Jews trying to navigate their daily lives in a world that was becoming more and more insane. Answering the charge that Jews should have left earlier, Kaplan shows that far from seeming inevitable, the Holocaust was impossible to foresee…


Why? Explaining the Holocaust

By Peter Hayes,

Book cover of Why? Explaining the Holocaust

Even after years of studying the Holocaust, I remain overwhelmed by the enormity of the horrors, and there are still times when I find my faith in humanity wavering and all I can think to ask in anger and confusion is “Why?” I know I’m not alone. Peter Hayes’s masterful book is the result of an entire career centered on asking that very question.  The outcome is an incredibly readable, insightful, and thought-provoking account of the Holocaust that doesn’t shy away from answering the big questions. After reading it, one might still ask “why,” but it won’t be out of frustration, anger, and confusion, but rather out of a desire to keep learning more about one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of humanity.

Why? Explaining the Holocaust

By Peter Hayes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why? Explaining the Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Hayes has been teaching Holocaust studies for decades and Why? grows out of the questions he's encountered from his students. Despite the outpouring of books, films, memorials, museums and courses devoted to the subject, a coherent explanation of why such carnage erupted still eludes people. Numerous myths have sprouted, many to console us that things could have gone differently if only some person or entity had acted more bravely or wisely; others cast new blame on favourite or surprising villains or even on historians.

Why? dispels many legends and debunks the most prevalent ones, including the claim that the…


Abolition for the People

By Colin Kaepernick (editor),

Book cover of Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future Without Policing & Prisons

If we are to reverse, dismantle, or eliminate mass incarceration we need an alternative model for addressing a reality where harm and injustice exist. We can never eliminate harm, but this book, through short writings by well-known authors constructs not only a clear case for eliminating prisons, jails, and policing but helps us to imagine how we might get to such a world through our own collective actions. Brought together by the most famous person to be banished by the National Football League, this volume stirs the soul and takes us on what may perhaps be an uncomfortable but very necessary journey. I have one essay in this book, entitled "Challenge E-Carceration" which contests the notion that electronic monitors and other punitive technologies are an alternative to incarceration. 

Abolition for the People

By Colin Kaepernick (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Edited by activist and former San Francisco 49ers super bowl quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Abolition for the People is a manifesto calling for a world beyond prisons and policing.

Abolition for the People brings together thirty essays representing a diversity of voices―political prisoners, grassroots organizers, scholars, and relatives of those killed by the anti-Black terrorism of policing and prisons. This collection presents readers with a moral choice: “Will you continue to be actively complicit in the perpetuation of these systems,” Kaepernick asks in his introduction, “or will you take action to dismantle them for the benefit of a just future?”

Powered…


City of Inmates

By Kelly Lytle Hernández,

Book cover of City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965

This book has hugely influenced my thinking on US racism, imprisonment, and immigration, especially my second book. By studying a long history of incarceration in Los Angeles, Lytle Hernandez demonstrates how “mass incarceration is mass elimination.” This argument was a revelation that opened new ways for me to see the connections among different people swept away into cages. Like Dunbar-Ortiz, she reveals how settler colonialism connects working-class white, Black, Indigenous, Chinese, and Mexican people targeted for arrest, imprisonment, and removal. Crucially, she reads “rebel archives” of those people who resisted their subjugation and fought for justice, showing how they never relinquished themselves to racist incarceration. 

City of Inmates

By Kelly Lytle Hernández,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Los Angeles incarcerates more people than any other city in the United States, which imprisons more people than any other nation on Earth. This book explains how the City of Angels became the capital city of the world's leading incarcerator. Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. In this telling, which spans from the Spanish colonial era to the outbreak of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Hernandez documents the persistent historical bond between the racial fantasies of conquest,…


The Condemnation of Blackness

By Khalil Gibran Muhammad,

Book cover of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, with a New Preface

Focused on early twentieth-century Philadelphia, Muhammad unpacks the ways that “statistics” were made to lie about Black criminality (and still do). He shows how the Progressive-era impulse to aid and rehabilitate those accused of criminal behavior vanished when the accused were Black. An intellectual history of both white social scientists and Black thinkers and activists from a range of classes, the book is a tour de force and must-read for anyone interested in issues of cities, crime, and racism.

The Condemnation of Blackness

By Khalil Gibran Muhammad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the John Hope Franklin Prize
A Moyers & Company Best Book of the Year

"A brilliant work that tells us how directly the past has formed us."
-Darryl Pinckney, New York Review of Books

How did we come to think of race as synonymous with crime? A brilliant and deeply disturbing biography of the idea of black criminality in the making of modern urban America, The Condemnation of Blackness reveals the influence this pernicious myth, rooted in crime statistics, has had on our society and our sense of self. Black crime statistics have shaped debates about everything from…


The Bias That Divides Us

By Keith E. Stanovich,

Book cover of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

Stanovich is a cognitive psychologist who showed that rationality is related, but not identical, to intelligence. In this timely book he shows that smart people, and everyone else, are victims of a powerful bias to show that our own tribe is virtuous and wise and knowledgeable and the other tribe is evil and stupid and ignorant. Needless to say it explains a lot about our current moment.

The Bias That Divides Us

By Keith E. Stanovich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bias That Divides Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why we don't live in a post-truth society but rather a myside society: what science tells us about the bias that poisons our politics.

In The Bias That Divides Us, psychologist Keith Stanovich argues provocatively that we don't live in a post-truth society, as has been claimed, but rather a myside society. Our problem is not that we are unable to value and respect truth and facts, but that we are unable to agree on commonly accepted truth and facts. We believe that our side knows the truth. Post-truth? That describes the other side. The inevitable result is political polarization.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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