7 Books to Read in 2018

Reading is one of the most important ways we can honor and connect to our past, stay informed on current issues, and inspire us to spring into action in order to create a better future. To celebrate Read Across America on March 2nd, the staff here at AGF has compiled a list of their most recent and most interesting reads of 2018 so far.

1. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Has racism in America been redesigned over the past 60 years? Author Michelle Alexander argues yes — by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it claims to be color blind.


2. Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman

More than fifty years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, the battle over race, representation, and political power continue in the United States as the Supreme Court declared a key part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. In this narrative history, Ari Berman explains the changing of American democracy under the VRA and the people who have attempted to limit it from the moment the act was signed into law.


3. Who Votes Now? by Jan E. Leighley and Jonathan Nagler

Comparing demographic characteristics — such as race, gender, and class — and political views of voters and nonvoters in American presidential elections since 1972, Who Votes Now? examines how electoral reforms and the choices offered by candidates influence voter turnout.


4. We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For by Paul Levine

Through civic action, Levine argues that anyone can change the norms of our own communities to combat social problems such as mass incarceration and chronic unemployment. A must-read for anyone motivated to help revive the country’s civic life and restore citizens’ public role in society.


5. March trilogy by John Lewis

A riveting graphic novel by Congressman John Lewis about his life during the Civil Rights Movement, beginning when he was 15 years old. The trilogy was inspired by Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, a 10 cent comic book that had a profound impact on Lewis.


6. Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb

Loeb compels us to fight powerlessness and cynicism by finding fulfillment in social involvement. Through the examples of everyday Americans, Loeb asks to move from passivity to participation in order to create a more purposeful life and society.


7. Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam

Putnam has identified a crisis at the heart of our society: disconnection and isolation from others. These broken bonds, explains Putnam, has destroyed our physical and civic health. The only way to create a happy, healthy, and safe environment is through reconnection.


 About the Author

Hayley van Hoek is the Communications and Development Intern at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. She graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a Bachelor’s in Literature and a concentration in Creative Writing.