Our new President has continually behaved like a bully, and said horribly ignorant, sexist, racist things. As others follow his lead, our world is becoming increasingly hateful and scary.
It is time like this that I cling to my books and my writing the tightest—not just as comfort, but as a weapon.
Books increase our capacity for empathy and can help us to better understand perspectives we are not able to experience in real life. Not to mention, books help us develop those all-important critical thinking skills I like to think my President would put to rigorous use before taking actions like, for example, pushing the nuke button.
In fact, empathy and critical thinking are skills I value in a leader more than any particular policy stand.
With this in mind, I ask, “President Trump, what books have you read lately, and what impact did they have on you?”
To be honest, though, I can’t imagine any response that is not disingenuous. I’ll take a pass on the series of rant-tweets about all the “many books, great books,” he has read.
Instead, I have some recommendations. Here are five graphic novels I want Trump to read. They are sure to challenge worldviews, stretch empathy, and make us all better people.
What starts as a speculative fiction take on Romeo and Juliet quickly becomes much more as Alanna and Marko do whatever it takes to protect their child and stay together. In a war-torn galaxy where their inter-species love is considered a blasphemy to both of their races, that’s no easy task.
This ongoing series from Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples has wildly imaginative illustrations and a well-rounded, diverse cast of characters. It also takes a hard look at the costs of war, while lending empathy to the crafting of each character, on both sides of the war.
In this graphic novel, Beldan Sezen shares an autobiographical coming of age story. Through a series of vignettes, Sezen explores what it meant to grow up as the daughter of Turkish immigrants, part of both Western and Islamic culture. The story also navigates her journey as she discovers her personal sexuality and comes out as a lesbian.
This Argentinian comic was first released in the last 1950s as a serial. In it, hero Juan Salvo has been displaced in time due to an encounter with an alien device. Coping with this displacement, a mysterious snow that kills all who come into contact with it, and an alien invasion, Salvo fights to protect his family.
By Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lopez, this story is rich in political themes exploring the damage caused by war and oppression—but ultimately, ends on a note of hope, emphasizing the people’s resilience.
This graphic novel follows the story of Jin Yang, who starts at a new school to find he is the only Chinese-American student there. Woven into Jin’s experiences are stories of the Monkey King, a character from Chinese fables, and Chin-Kee, a personification of negative Chinese stereotypes. Created by Gene Luen Yang.
I have mixed feelings on this one, as I am keenly aware that this story, while following the devastating struggles of an Islamic woman and black man in the Middle East, is written by a white American man. No matter how beautiful its storytelling or unflinching its look into the issues it explores, this is inherently limiting, and that should be acknowledged.
That said, Craig Thompson manages to go deep into issues ranging from poverty, abuse, body image, sexuality, and even climate change with great soulfulness.
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