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6 Non-Fiction Books That Will Help You Imagine A Better Future

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

As we near the third year of the pandemic, many of us feel totally focused on the doom – and gloom – of the world. It’s hard not to. The signs of a corrupt system, (overrun hospitals, the ongoing opioid epidemic, police brutality, a mental health crisis, just to name a few examples) are getting harder and harder to ignore.

For our generation, it can be hard to be hopeful and optimistic about the future when it feels like it’s collapsing all around you.

But one thing I have learned about social justice is the importance of Critical Imagination. This is the ability to picture how the system we live in could be different and how we can change it. By focusing less on our dread and more on radical, innovative ideas, we can start to envision a world that maybe sucks a little less.

With the right book, we can cultivate critical imagination and have more productive conversations surrounding modern issues. Here are 6 non-fiction books that will help you imagine a better future:

1. The Feminist Utopia Project by Alexandra Brodsky & Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

This book is a collection of 57 essays by feminist writers who were challenged to imagine a truly feminist society. Each voice has a totally unique take on all different aspects of society, from the Constitution to standards of good sex. 

The Feminist Utopia Project challenges the status quo that accepts inequality and violence as a given—and inspires us to demand a radically better future.”

2. How to Be an Anti-Capitalist in the 21st Century by Erik Olin Wright

This book is great for both seasoned socialist thinkers and those who are just beginning to question the principles of capitalism. It offers an excellent critique of the system while also providing a guide toward a more democratic and socialist society.

What I like best about this book is that it offers practical advice, bringing these broad philosophical ideas down into everyday life.

3. The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

If you are particularly interested in how our food systems can be improved to sustainably feed the planet, this book is perfect for you.

The ancient relationship between humans and the land is explored in this fascinating book. Based on this knowledge and spiritual outlook, the author proposes a new agricultural food system with sustainable farming practices at its core. 

4. This Is Your Mind On Plants by Michael Pollan

Okay, this one focuses a bit more on the past than on the future. But its analysis of the relationship between drugs and the development of our society is more relevant than ever.

From the Native American religious traditions surrounding Peyote, to the capitalist forces which motivate our caffeine intake, this book will forever change the way you consider our reliance on medicinal and recreational uses in plants.

5. We Do This ‘Til We Free Us by Mariame Kaba

This book focuses on the revolutionary power available to the masses of people who seek change in our society. It discusses social justice as a transformative political struggle to shift power toward oppressed peoples.

Again, I like this book for its practical advice. It will inspire you with the know-how to get involved, organize with like-minded people, and ultimately change the world.

“Finding hope in collective struggle for abolition, Kaba’s work is deeply rooted in the relentless belief that we can fundamentally change the world.”

6. Socialism…Seriously! By Danny Katch

This is a quick read for anyone newly curious about democratic socialism, communism, and similar movements in progressive spaces.

It addresses the history of these democratic ideals and how they have transformed from fear-mongering buzzwords back into serious political movements within recent years. It’s also pretty funny and makes a great argument for the value of humor in our doomed timeline.

Hopefully, these books can inspire and educate us to create a better future. Look for them at your local bookstore, or search Thriftbooks for a good deal and cheap shipping!

Hannah is studying English Creative Writing at Michigan State University. She is passionate about art, poetry, good food, and working toward a sustainabile future.