A Few of My Favorite Books--Social Justice Edition

I love to read. Do you? I also like to support the brave voices choosing to speak their stories through writing. I firmly believe that the sharing of our stories can change the world. This has never been truer than with my latest list of books in the category of social justice. If you missed my other list—feel free to check out a few of my favorite mystery books here. Fall is a wonderful season for mystery books! A Few of My Favorite Books will be an ongoing series. I plan to share my top classic literature picks, self-help picks, religious transition picks, memoirs, etc… You get the picture. If you have particular requests, do let me know! For today, I am sharing my favorite social justice books of the past year. These books have all changed me. As good books do. They have both widened my view and expanded my heart. Isn’t that why we read? Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. White Fragility: Why It Is so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Buckle up, for this one! I mean it. WOW. I had to own up. Face up. And deal with my own emotions as I read this challenging and absolutely necessary book. One aside. I appreciated how DiAngelo demonstrates how even she (an advocate, educator, and scholar who discusses racism and privilege regularly) must face her own biases. By including her own vulnerability, DiAngelo shows us what it looks like to be aware and to take responsibility for ourselves. Ultimately, White Fragility delves into how our assumptions and defensiveness around racism uphold and reinforce racial inequality in our culture today.

  2. Just Mercy : A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stephenson. Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Esquire, and Time. This book is a sobering but inevitably, inspiring look at how many men of color are wrongly convicted in the south and placed on death row. Just Mercy is filled with stories that will move you, challenge you, and infuriate you. And rightfully so. Ultimately, Bryan Stephenson’s unblinking commitment to show up for racial injustice left me feeling called to action. If you want more, I recommend watching 13th, a documentary on race in America as a complementary pairing.

  3. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin. A harrowing memoir of Hinton’s time on death row after being wrongly convicted. This book broke my heart—but Hinton’s unflinching resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy reminded me of one of the messages behind Man’s Search for Meaning. When we are stripped of our very humanity and denied the basic of human rights, our power lies in how we choose to react to those circumstances.

  4. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this book details the true-life story of Nicole (a trans child) and her family growing up in Maine. The journey is harrowing, heartbreaking, beautiful, inspiring, and a true testament to how we as a culture need to show up for our transgender community. There is also an amazing chapter on the current research and science with regard to sex and gender.

  5. Proud by Ibtihaj Muhammad. As the first female Muslim-American to medal in the Olympic Games, Ibtihaj chronicles the challenges she had to face as both a woman of color and a Muslim in America. I dare you not to feel inspired by her. "I've had to fight for every win, every place at the table, every ounce of respect on my path to world-class athlete. And I will continue to fight because the prize this time -- an America that truly respects all of its citizens -- is worth more than any medal. Inshallah: so, may it be."

I would love to hear what social justice books you would recommend. Won’t you share some of your favorites with me?

Margi Dehlin2 Comments