V Man’s Book Club: 10 Picks To Educate Yourself

Here’s what you should be reading to introduce yourself to topics like race, art, feminism and more.

Let’s face it: the world is a terribly quick, complex, nuanced thing, churning and changing at a pace that is nearly impossible to keep up with without also knowing what’s gotten us to where we are now. In various sectors of life—from race to class to art to culture to the environment—, what we know already is just barely scraping the surface of everything that’s there, decades if not centuries of history and progress.

If 2021 is the year of bettering yourself, bettering your mind and your understanding of the society you live in is a fantastic place to start. And what better way to do that than with a book, introductory to the topic at hand and yet vastly readable and educational?

Below, we’re sharing 10 book recommendations to get you started on exploring 10 different subjects, complicated and elaborate and definitely not entirely knowable via a high school history course. Read on to select the next book in your TBR pile, making you a more active, aware and overall better member of the community.

On Climate Change

For an intro to the climate crisis, The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells provides a sophisticated, well-researched backdrop into the consequences of global warming. A non-fiction essential at only 320 pages, it’s an easily digestible read for a not so digestible subject.

On Race Relations & Social Justice

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White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism is a must-read, especially going into 2021. A deep discussion on race relations in the United States, it’s only 192 pages of informative history and information, allowing you to become a better champion of the Black Lives Matter movement and better neighbor in the world.

On Prison Reform & Abolition

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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a fundamental read for understanding law and prison in the United States. Published in 2010, its principles still stand over a decade later, as it challenges the notions of how we see prisons and who, actually, is benefitting from them.

On Technology

How are organizations like Facebook, Google, Twitter and AirBnB learning about you? How are they using your data? In an increasingly digital world, understanding the technology at our fingertips is crucial—and often, way more complex than we think it is. The Power of Experiments: Decision Making in a Data-Driven World invites experts in the field to share insights on behavioral economics and digital experimentation.

On Art

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Art history is a broad, expansive and often Eurocentric field. Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art is an expansive and comprehensive chronicling of art history from ancient times to modern, providing introductory content to global art with interlaced art criticism.

On LGBTQ+ History and Issues

The Gay Revolution: The Story of Struggle is a must-read for those looking to educate themselves on LGBTQ+ rights and history. It delves into the struggles of rights and representation in the US from the early 1950s to the modern era for the LGBTQ+ community, making an informative, critical read.

On US History

If you think your high school US history class aptly covered the roots and core of the country, spoiler alert: it did not. A People’s History of the United States is crucially informative and educational, giving the marginalized perspectives history textbooks never do, detailing US history across oppressed socioeconomic and racial corridors.

On Feminism

While mainstream feminism seems largely limited to #ImWithHer posts and (transphobic) #PussyPower merch, Hood Feminism rekindles the flame of intersectional feminism, portraying it in a light of a means to survival rather than a pastime for an aspiring activist. A true must-read to understanding the nuances and complexities to being a feminist, it touches on education access, the living wage and more.

On Class

A landmark book, White Trash: The 400-Year- Untold History of Class in America challenges myths about class in America, bringing to light the history of classism and socioeconomic opportunity and differences. Gatsby’s American dream might be just that—a dream.

On Humanity

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An anthropological read that reads like an engaging work of fiction with elements of science and the humanities woven in, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book everyone should read. It chronicles humanity—all of it, from our evolution to the wars we have waged to the modern century. With pieces of science and fact woven into an interesting, vibrant narrative, Harari’s novel is hefty, but well worth the read.

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