What are you reading this summer? The VOW staff put together a summer reading list of some of our favorites!

1.

A sweeping history–and counter-narrative–of Native American life from the Wounded Knee massacre to the present. In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes’ distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival.

2.

In The Displaced, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, brings together a host of prominent refugee writers to explore and illuminate the refugee experience. Featuring original essays by a collection of writers from around the world, The Displaced is an indictment of closing our doors, and a powerful look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.

3.

An intimate, eye-opening portrait of San Francisco transformed by the tech boom. Inspired by Studs Terkel’s classic works of oral history, writer and filmmaker Cary McClelland spent several years interviewing people at the epicenter of the recent change, from venture capitalists and coders to politicians and protesters, from native sons and daughters to the city’s newest arrivals. The crisp and vivid stories of Silicon City’s diverse cast capture San Francisco as never before.

4.

In American Like Me, America Ferrera invites thirty-one of her friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures. We know them as actors, comedians, athletes, politicians, artists, and writers. However, they are also immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture. Each of them struggled to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen. And they call themselves American enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all.

5.

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, Exit West follows fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

6.

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-elusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel.

7.

Told through several compelling voices, blending texts, sounds, and images, Lost Children Archive is a novel about a family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the southwestern border. It is a richly engaging story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. With urgency and empathy, it takes us deep into the lives of one remarkable family as it probes the nature of justice and equality today.

8.

Although over half the people incarcerated in America today have committed violent offenses, the focus of reformers has been almost entirely on nonviolent and drug offenses. Danielle Sered’s brilliant and groundbreaking Until We Reckon steers directly and unapologetically into the question of violence, offering approaches that will help end mass incarceration and increase safety.

9.

Spanning four decades, these essays, speeches and meditations interrogate the world around us. They are concerned with race, gender and globalization. The sweep of American history and the current state of politics. The duty of the press and the role of the artist. Throughout A Mouth Full of Blood our search for truth, moral integrity and expertise is met by Toni Morrison with controlled anger, elegance and literary excellence.

10.

Oral history is a universal form of storytelling. For many years Voice of Witness has shared powerful stories of people impacted by injustice with a broad audience of readers. Say It Forward extends this work, offering a DIY guide for social justice storytelling that outlines the critical methodology at the core of Voice of Witness’s evocative oral history collections.