Holiday shopping, literature, and a thousand lights in the coming night

Usually, around this time of year, I tell you all the books I’ve been reading, or all the books I’ve been buying, or all the books in the past year or so by friends of mine, and I suggest you make your holiday shopping list from it. It’s a way to support literature and my literary community.

This year, I’ve decided to do something slightly different.

A couple weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that I was building a holiday shopping list and asked for recommendations of books, recent or upcoming, that are by or that celebrate:

  • African Americans
  • American immigrants
  • Americans with disabilities
  • American women
  • Arab Americans
  • Latinx Americans
  • LGBTQIA Americans
  • Muslim Americans
  • Native Americans
  • and (as I wrote on that original Facebook post) “any other voices that you think will counter the nationalist white straight cisgender male bullshit that we will refuse to let dominate this nation”

More than two dozen people chimed in and built a wide-ranging list of books, a few classic but most of them recent, including memoirs, novels, poetry, and comics and graphic novels.

So this is your holiday shopping list, gang. As I wrote in my original FB post, “Out of the fiery oven of this furor, let us feed millions on our words.”

Many thanks to all those people — writers, publishers, librarians, teachers, and avid readers — for helping build the list. This is mostly their work; I’m just here to learn. In fact, many of these I haven’t read yet — I asked for this list in part to add these books to my own to-read shelf so I could listen through the page to all these beautiful perspectives — so I can’t say much about them all. But the folks who recommended these books said interesting things about them, and I think they’re all worth exploring. Some of the suggestions were for whole authors — someone’s entire opera — so for those, I’ve just listed the name followed by (in general). I’ve also added any books from my own reading this past year that do fit within the parameters I laid out above.

And now, at last, things for you to gift/read this holiday season and through the years ahead:


But wait, there’s more!

One person responding to my Facebook post recommended donating to or joining the ACLU (you can also give gift memberships to other people):

And a friend in Texas, whose African-American daughter has been the subject of racist attacks at her Texas college, has been reminding people of the importance (now especially so) of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s work to track hate crimes and protect victims of hate crimes. To support their efforts, you can donate or join here:

These reminded me of John Oliver’s excellent list of other potential organizations and charities we can support, as well as the list of ways to help the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their efforts to protect the drinking water of millions. So here is John Oliver’s list, with links (quoted from the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Facebook post):

  • To support women’s health, donate to Planned Parenthood ( or the Center for Reproductive Rights (
  • If you don’t believe manmade global warming is a silly issue, give to the Natural Resources Defense Council (
  • If you don’t think refugees are a terrorist army in disguise, donate to the International Refugee Assistance Project (
  • You may also want to donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (, the Trevor Project for LGBT youth (, or the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (
  • And to support journalism, subscribe to a newspaper and donate to ProPublica (

And here is the list of ways to help the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux, from Indian Country Today:


Another way not listed on the Indian Country Today site is to support the two legions (yes, legions!) of veterans heading to the DAPL site to protect the water protectors. They have a fundraiser to help these veterans pay for transportation, food, gear, and emergency supplies:

And now it’s your turn, gang. What other books and writers should we be reading? What other organizations and efforts should we be supporting? Leave your thoughts in the comments — and please, keep the comments constructive. I shared this list to uplift and support and educate, and I’d like the comments to reflect that spirit.

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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