All posts tagged: Sinclair’s The Jungle

What to Read When You’re Frustrated With the Status Quo

What to Read When You’re Frustrated With the Status Quo

Certain books have the potential to extend beyond their covers: They can affect readers so dramatically that they spur change, whether in readers’ heads or across society. Some of these titles are well known. The popularity of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin made it impossible for many white northerners to ignore the abolitionist cause; Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique put into words women’s stultifying place in society, “the problem that has no name”; George Orwell’s Animal Farm gave the world a rich new metaphorical vocabulary for totalitarianism. Each helped readers recognize conditions they may have taken for granted or assumed were intractable, and gave them the conceptual tools for pushing back on them. In ways large and small, the nine books on this list also do a version of this consciousness-raising. They examine different aspects of the status quo—the makeup of a country’s highest courts, everyday life under a government in turmoil, even how the art we consume is marketed to us. Then they use those distinctive elements of literature—its varied perspectives, its focus …