radical futures reading list

In a year surrounded by hopelessness, spending a lot of time alone with my own thoughts and body, I found myself reaching for something to guide myself towards life.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been dissatisfied with current ways of being and systems of power, increasingly so as I learn more about our world. A gracious, empathetic, radically loving friend suggested that I read one of adrienne maree brown’s works of writing, and that opened the door to a whole community of scholars and activists who offered new (at least new to me) ways of thinking that resonated with me deeply. The works included here come from a variety of scholars, activists, dreamers, creators. It’s important to acknowledge that much of this work is largely done by women of color, particularly black, indigenous, and disabled woman, who put forth their labor not only to survive but to thrive and to create a better world for us all.

I have divided the reading list into three categories — justice and creating communities of care, anti-capitalist economics / anti-racist politics, and visionary fiction. Of course, the lines between these categories are blurry, since all these ideas are deeply intertwined. This list is absolutely not comprehensive, just an offering from what I have been drawn to and what I have explored so far. This list is always in progress.

“All that you touch you change / All that you change changes you / The only lasting truth is change”—Octavia Butler

Justice & Creating Communities of Care

Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity in this Crisis by Dean Spade

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

We Will Not Cancel Us: Breaking the Cycle of Harm by adrienne maree brown

The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence by The Care Collective

Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement, Edited by Ejeris Dixon and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown

Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture by Nora Samaran

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

The Body is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown

Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Anti-Capitalist Economics /Anti-Racist Politics

Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone by Sarah Jaffe

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence by Kristen R. Ghodsee

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Visionary Fiction

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia’s Parables podcast by adrienne maree brown and Toshi Reagon

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

A stack of books, included in this reading list, from my personal collection.

astronomy graduate student, dog & plant mom, person who always says “this is the year I write my novel” [she/her]