We asked a range of authors and creative types to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. More than two dozen responded. Here’s what the political comedian, podcaster, CNN personality, and debut author W. Kamau Bell had to recommend.
Latest book: The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell (May 2017)
Also known for: United Shades of America (TV series)
Recommended reading: I find that no book explains America as well as The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley. It’s a classic American tale of a person lifting themselves up by their bootstraps to find success—it just happens that Malcolm’s version of success is the liberation of oppressed people. And Lindy West, the author of Shrill, is a critical voice. If we all want to have any hope of not just surviving but thriving in the next four years to eight years and beyond, then we need to listen to her. Also, she’s funnier than probably everybody you know—unless you know her.
The complete series: Daniel Alarcón, Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Ana Castillo, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Michael Eric Dyson, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, William Gibson, Mohsin Hamid, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibben, Rabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet Waldman, Jesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.