With the start of summer just days away, Atlanta Civic Circle has compiled an assortment of books for your reading pleasure.

Community organizers, educators and politicos alike helped us assemble an interesting selection of books on democracy. Make sure to pack a few as you head off on vacation or bring one out for an afternoon of reading on the back porch.

Here are some recommendations:

Title: The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart

Authors: Bill Bishop with Robert G. Cushing

Why It’s Worth Reading:
“I stumbled across this book in the law library at Georgia State University,” Alaina Reaves, Georgia member of the Democratic National Committee, said. “The title caught my eye because it’s a burning question in political discord. How do you get people from different backgrounds and beliefs to come to an agreement? Although it’s been a decade since I’ve read the book, its central thesis has stayed with me: How homogenous communities create echo chambers but, most importantly, how to disrupt that groupthink.”


Title: Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President

Author: Edward McClelland.

Why It’s Worth Reading: “My mentor Jena Rosco gave me a copy of this book at the end of my fellowship with Operations HOPE,” Reaves said “In reading about President Obama’s younger years, it was evident that his time as editor-in-chief [at the Harvard Law Review] where he governed by building a coalition and seeking compromise foreshadowed his battle with opposing forces in Congress during his [presidential] tenure,” she added. “My major takeaway was that trying to build bridges across the aisle doesn’t always lead to a compromise and can even lead to more disastrous consequences.”


Title: Rise Up: Confronting a Country at the Crossroads

Author: Al Sharpton

Why It’s Worth Reading: “He has been at the precipice of everything African American in terms of our Civil Rights from the early 80s until now,” said Pat Pullar, a political consultant in Ellenwood. “He has a historical reference. He’s been in the presence of all the icons who’ve made him iconic. I remember when he started his national youth movement in New York in the early 80s. He’s always tried to embrace the youth. I think He would have an interesting take on our democracy.”


Title: The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

Author: Nikole Hannah-Jones

Why It’s Worth Reading:
“We have to continuously learn about our history because it was taken away from us in school and whitewashed so badly,” Pullar said. “You really don’t know the full story.” The book is set for release in November.


Title: Ratf**cked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy

Author: David Daley

Why It’s Worth Reading: “[This is] a great behind-the-scenes look at what went down the last decade when partisan map-drawers in states around the country redrew maps and created some of the most egregious gerrymanders in the country’s history,” said Michael Li, senior counsel in the Democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “You may think you know the story but what happened is even worse.” The author is a former editor-in-chief at Salon.


Title: Freedom

Author: Michael Thurmond

Why It’s Worth Reading: “Yes, that Michael Thurmond,” said political analyst Bill Crane, principal of CSI Crane LLC in Decatur. “DeKalb County’s chief executive officer is also a trained historian and author and spent nine years studying and writing about the history of his family, dating back to Oglethorpe’s colony of Georgia. It moves forward through the days of his own father, a sharecropper, and Thurmond, who grew up primarily in Athens. He became the first in his family to be fully educated, receive a college degree and later be elected state representative, labor commissioner and DeKalb County Government CEO, among other accomplishments.”


Title: Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School

Author: Benjamin Franklin

Why It’s Worth Reading: “It’s a collection of letters, essays, and humorous writings by Franklin, most [of which was written] while [he was] living overseas as the first U.S government emissary/ambassador,” Crane said. “Franklin skewers Parliament, the institution of marriage, and many sacred cows of the day.”


Title: One Person No Vote

Author: Carol Anderson

Why It’s Worth Reading: “I was a history major in college so I really enjoy books about history,” said Marina Jenkins, director of litigation and policy at The National Redistricting Foundation in Washington, D.C. “This book is about voter suppression. It’s really important to place yourself in history and understand that what we’re going through now is all connected to our history. For me, being able to think about the issues we’re facing today in the context of the past 80 to 100 years is very important because the solutions to our current problems may come from learning about our past.”


Read a good book about democracy? Let us know. Send your suggestions to Democracy Reporter Tammy Joyner.

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(Header image: Photos of books by Ashim D’Silva at unsplash.com)