It’s no secret that there are a fair number of folks out there who are depressed. The year is turning out to be fairly contentious right from the get go and it’s only February. We look out the windows and spring seems an awful long ways away, both literally and metaphorically. Fortunately the library’s got your back.

Here’s a booklist to pluck up spirits and make you feel, if not cheery, then at least engaged.
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit
Do our actions always have immediate positive results?  Nope. And what better way to grasp this than with a book that “traces the rise of a sophisticated, supple, nonviolent new movement that unites all the diverse and fragmentary issues of the eighties and nineties in our new century.”

Says Ms. Solnit of the book, “Coming back to the text more than a dozen tumultuous years later, I believe its premises hold up. Progressive, populist, and grassroots constituencies have had many victories. Popular power has continued to be a profound force for change. And the changes we have undergone, both wonderful and terrible, are astonishing.”

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis
In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Ms. Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today’s struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Ms. Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that “Freedom is a constant struggle.”

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.

Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches, 1963-2009
Howard Zinn has illuminated American history like none other. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University, he wrote more than 20 books, including “A People’s History of the United States.” He was also a known anti-war and civil rights activist. Now, for the first time ever, Howard Zinn’s speeches have been collected in book form. The book includes speeches on protest movements, racism, war and American democracy. It will be an invaluable resource for a new generation of students discovering his work, as well as those Mr. Zinn moved during his lifetime.

Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library. She has been writing for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.