Like many of you, I have been horrified by this administration's actions during its first weeks in office. Trump signed executive orders stripping away human rights, threatening global security, and putting the environment at risk. He closed our borders to refugees and banned Muslims—but only from countries where he does not have business ties. He placed a gag order on public communications from government agencies like the EPA and the National Park Service, while shamelessly pushing propaganda and lies from his bully pulpit. With the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, our country's Republican leaders have exposed their willingness to decimate our public education system. And Trump's top advisor told the media it should "keep its mouth shut" right before staging a coup of the National Security Council.
As a citizen, a mother, an author, and a reader, I will not stand for this. I will not shut my mouth. I will fight for our first amendment rights. For our civil liberties. For our public libraries and schools. In this age of "alternative facts," we need books and libraries and an unmuzzled press more than ever. The freedom of information is under attack. Our democracy is under attack.
We founded Silent Book Club to create a space for readers to connect with each other through a shared love of books. Once a month in cities around the world, introverts find sanctuary in a room full of kindred spirits reading quietly together in public. We did not set out to be a political group, but as Roxane Gay powerfully declared, "today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, everything we do is political—as readers, as writers, as booksellers, as people." More than ever, we believe in creating safe spaces for people to take refuge in books. Self-care is critical and all are welcome at Silent Book Club. But we have to do more. We are readers and activists. We will not be silent.
Guinevere de la Mare
Founder, Silent Book Club
Ideal Bookshelf 1010: Resistance, by Jane Mount
Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, writes that "a democratic society is supposed to be based on plurality of voices." But now our voices are being silenced by public servants in the highest office. We find ourselves face to face with an unprecedented threat to our democracy. Authoritarian thinking has been allowed to take hold of the White House. And we must fight it. Nafisi writes,
[Reading] questions the basic tenets of authoritarian thinking. That is why this plurality of ideas and voices which fiction represents becomes dangerous to tyrants. In fiction, there is no status. In the realm of ideas and imagination, the only thing that is sacred is to allow the profanities to come in.
Every great revolution starts with an idea. America is based on an idea – Enlightenment. Once you take that away, all that is left is a different kind of tyrannical mind-set. Great fiction always questions us and brings to the foreground the essential human questions.
Artwork by Lisa Congdon
The most powerful tool in a democracy is the voice of the people. That's why Trump disconnected the White House comment line. Don't just sign an online petition. Call your representatives. We recommend using 5calls.org, or you can search for your reps' contact info online. Can't get through to their office phone lines? Send them a fax (it's free online). Mail them a postcard.
We have created an activist tool kit that you can use to write to Congress, with postcards, messaging templates, and instructions to help you speak out. All proceeds will benefit non-profit organizations fighting for our first amendment rights, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, ProPublica, and the American Library Association.
Artwork by Marc Johns
The White House has proposed a budget that would eliminate funding for the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency charged with providing support to our nation's hundreds of thousands of libraries and museums. The American Library Association has a small team in Washington, DC that is leading the #SaveIMLS charge. Join their fight and contact your Congress members at ala.org/takeaction.
Artwork by Leah Rosenberg
Now is the time to educate yourself and support those who are dedicating themselves to unbiased journalism and free access to information. Pay for a subscription to a trusted news source, and get your news directly instead of relying on Facebook or Twitter to filter your feed. The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, and Teen Vogue are just a few of the media outlets that have vowed to stand up to Trump's disinformation. Read banned books. Support authors who stand up for their beliefs.
Fight like hell. And then, every evening, turn off your phone. Stop scrolling. Take a break and breathe deeply. Laugh with your children. Hug your partner. Pick up a book and read a few pages before you go to sleep. The headlines will be there in the morning. We will fight another day.
Artwork by Micah Player
Make your voice heard! This set of 10 postcards designed by independent artists comes with instructions on how to reach your representatives in Washington. It also includes messaging templates for issues including civil liberties, freedom of information, healthcare reform, women's rights. All proceeds benefit non-profit organizations fighting for justice.
Artwork by Brittany Truex, Nadine Appenbrink, and Nick de la Mare