George Saunders’ Resistance Reading

Authors pick books that bring solace and understanding in an age of rancor.

Graeme Robertson/ Zuma Wire

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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 are some selections from George Saunders, who spent five years reading about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln for his truly unique latest novel.

Latest book: Lincoln in the Bardo
Also known for: Tenth of December
Reading recommendations: I Will Bear Witness, by Victor Klemperer: The journal of a Jewish academic that shows the way a country slides into dictatorship and mass violence in real time. It all happens with courtesy and in a spirit of banal aggression. But it happens just the same.

Faithful Ruslan, by Georgi Abramov: A tour de force done in the voice of a Siberian work-camp guard dog that is a profound glimpse at what authoritarian rule looks like from the inside.

Anton Chekhov’s short stories, just because, in dark times, it’s important for people in resistance to fortify themselves with beauty, if only to remind ourselves that kindness, nuance, and ambiguity are real things. In particular: the beautiful trilogy consisting of “The Man in a Case,” “Gooseberries,and “About Love.

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison: This gorgeous and daring work of art served for me, years ago, as a kind of Compassion On switch, reenacting a notion I’d often felt as a Catholic kid, which was: Our ability to empathetically imagine the experiences and feelings of other people argues that our habitual feelings of separateness are actually delusional.
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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 McKibbenRabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet WaldmanJesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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