As we head into the final stretch of the 2016 presidential election, there may be only one point on which all Americans agree: This country has never experienced anything like it. What would have been the headline in any other year – that a woman is running for Commander in Chief for the first time in U.S. history – has been largely eclipsed by the antics of Donald J. Trump, the Republican candidate who, in the second debate of presidential nominees, literally (or at least physically) eclipsed his opponent.
The lewd, crude behavior of Mr. Trump has raised the hackles of people on both sides of the aisle, and the most recent polls suggest he is falling further behind Secretary of State Clinton. Here at Signature we believe that when the going gets tough, the tough get reading. Some, of course, might protest that the Donald does not actually read, but the fact that he takes issues with bad press suggests the contrary. To that end, we have compiled a handy reading list for his edification – or our amusement. Tomato, tomawto, as the song goes.
The United States Constitution
Basics first, eh? Because Trump has never held political office, and because he seems to have a very poor grasp of both the processes of government and the actual implication of various amendments, a pocket-sized copy might prove the handiest accessory since his distinctive campaign hat.
Emily Post’s Etiquette
I think we can all agree that Trump’s manners leave a lot to be desired, which has proven to be a big problem for all of us. Every time he is, ahem, untoward, he lowers national standards even more. It’s time Trump learned a little grace, and Ms. Post is just the lady to put him to rights.
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Political scientist Zinn’s primer in U.S. “alternate history” – namely, the stories of how the majority have been exploited by an elite minority and how various American groups have been oppressed beginning with slavery, the treatment of immigrant populations, and the suppression of female emancipation – might open Mr. Trump’s eyes about the corrupt systems that he is perpetuating.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Sure, this is a self-help book that’s more than a little touch-feely. But its recommended life tenets – be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, always do your best – would certainly benefit Trump, who has a wee bit of a personal accountability problem.
Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks
Brilliant scholar and author bell hooks’s slim yellow book makes feminist politics so accessible and so commonsensical that even Mr. Trump might reconsider his wanton ways. Bonus: It connects the dots between patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, imperialism, and racism, suggesting that liberation cannot occur in one area while perpetuating oppression in others. Just imagine the thinks Donald can think!
Maus by Art Spiegelman
On the off chance that Trump is more likely to read books with pictures, this Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the author’s father’s experience as a Polish Jew and holocaust survivor might inspire the Republican presidential candidate to rethink his tendency to blame the Jews, a la another terrifying despot who shalt remain unnamed. (No, not Voldemort.)
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
American minister Fulghum’s book of essays suggests that the world would be a better place if we all stuck to the lessons we learned in the sandbox: sharing, playing fair, refraining from name-calling, cleaning up our own messes, and listening well to others. On the likely chance that Mr. Trump missed the days they were teaching these values in school, this book could prove a terrific cubbymate.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking inspiration from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, this searing letter to the author’s adolescent son breaks down the realities of being black in America, tracing the racist violence that “is woven in American history” and the threat of bodily harm that is a daily reality for people of color. Imagine a Woke Trump. (I can’t.)
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
While some debate exists about whether Trump actually reads, anyone with a Twitter account is painfully aware that he writes. His hurricane of tweets – rife with exclamation points, sentence fragments, and verb-noun disagreements – suggests that a refresher course in punctuation, grammar, and commonly misused expressions is well overdue.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Hard Times by Pema Chodron
This Buddhist nun’s book about the spiritual growth afforded by loss and failure could prove Trump’s bible come November if recent polls prove prescient. Fingers crossed!
This was originally published on Signature.