A reading list for the 2020 presidential election, from the New York Public Library

October 6, 2020, 4:01 AM UTC

The New York Public Library is urging people to read before they vote. To help with that task, librarians have compiled a 2020 Election Reading List, with nearly 200 nonfiction and fiction titles for adults, kids, and teens. The library’s expert librarians have broken down the key issues for both campaigns and compiled reading recommendations to help inform and prepare readers to vote. 

Elevating issues such as health care, gender equality, climate change, and foreign policy, among others top of mind among voters, the 2020 Election Reading List is another way the NYPL says it is continuing its commitment to making its resources accessible to all. Compiling the reading list took three weeks, and it’s the first the NYPL has dedicated to the U.S. presidential election.

“With the election rapidly approaching, the library wanted to produce a list that would help patrons—and beyond—understand the important issues in our society and prepare them to cast an informed
vote,” Julie Golia, one of the list’s curators as well as curator of history, social sciences, and government information at the NYPL, tells Fortune. “For more than a century, New York City’s public libraries have supported and strengthened New Yorkers, our nation’s democratic foundation, and our world by welcoming all and employing values of trust, inclusion, respect, and free and open access to information, knowledge, and opportunity.”

The NYPL is also putting voting and getting informed front and center—literally outside the front doors of the most famous branch at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The library is installing props in front of its beloved lion statues, named Patience and Fortitude, depicting them as holding books encouraging New Yorkers to vote, along with banners reading “Read. Think. Vote” flanking the entrance.

As the nation prepares for the presidential election, the NYPL’s librarians have broken down the key issues at the top of the agenda for both campaigns.
Courtesy of the New York Public Library

Here is a selection of books to consider reading before Nov. 3, which you can find at your local independent bookseller via Bookshop.org or your own local library.

Climate Change

As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice From Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor by Steven Greenhouse


Cutting School: The Segrenomics of American Education by Noliwe Rooks

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris

Foreign Policy

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

Gender Equality

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism edited by Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister

In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers by Bernice Yeung

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

See Jane Win: The Inspiring Story of the Women Changing American Politics by Caitlin Moscatello


Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah

The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark


We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer

No Justice in the Shadows: How America Criminalizes Immigrants by Alina Das

Sand and Blood: America’s Stealth War on the Mexico Border by John Carlos Frey

LGBTQ+ Rights

Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and U.S. Surveillance Practices by Toby Beauchamp

Real Queer America: LGBT Stories From Red States by Samantha Allen

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene A. Carruthers


Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other by Sherry Turkle

From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy by Claire Bond Pitter

Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by Andrew Marantz


Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them by Jason Stanley

Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein

The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court in the Age of Trump by David A. Kaplan

Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America by Stacey Abrams

What You Should Know About Politics…But Don’t: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues that Matter by Jessamyn Conrad


Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population Is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation by Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Voting Rights

Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman

Blackballed: The Black Vote and U.S. Democracy by Darryl Pinckney

Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College by Jesse Wegman

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson

Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy by David Daley

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones

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