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Nine Social Justice Books to Read This Fall

Nine Social Justice Books to Read This Fall

When we think of social justice, we typically think of action. Yet, while action is certainly vital, we also need research and reflection to help us understand the complexity that surrounds any given issue.

Here are nine insightful and engaging books you may not have heard of that span a wide range of social justice issues and will be worth reading this fall.

The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence

by Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros (Oxford University Press)

Although we have made great strides in the battle against global poverty over the last three decades, Western generosity alone will not eliminate poverty. This important book looks at various forms of violence—for instance, rape, slavery, land theft—and how they contribute to the cycle of poverty. The authors make a convincing case that efforts to work for a world beyond poverty must include the messy work of resisting violence.

Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

by Eugene Cho (David C. Cook)

Never afraid to ask a pointed question, Eugene Cho calls us not just to love and talk about justice, but to be actively engaged in seeking justice. It is not just others who need to be healed and transformed, but we ourselves as well, and Cho maintains that we start to find our own transformation in working for change among others.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow is probably the most important book about race in America that has been written in the last decade. Michelle Alexander unmasks the fundamental racism that pervades the criminal justice system in our nation.

The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food

by Dan Barber (The Penguin Press)
This new work by Dan Barber is likely the most important book on food to be published this year. Barber argues that the food produced by neither conventional agriculture (the first plate) nor local and organic agriculture (the second plate), is a sustainable way to farm and eat. Rather, he argues for the third plate, “an integrated system of vegetable, grain and livestock production that is … dictated by what we choose to cook for dinner.”

Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White—Who’s More Precious In God’s Sight?: A Call for Diversity in Christian Missions

by Leroy Barber 

Rooted in over 20 years of urban ministry, Leroy Barber’s newest book makes the pointed observation that people of color almost never serve in the mission field. Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White explores the implications of this observation, and argues persuasively that a diversification of both church and mission field is sorely needed.

We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis

by Mary E. DeMuth

Author and advocate Mary DeMuth urges the church she loves to rise up and face the evil of sexual abuse and harassment with candor and empathy. Based on research, survivors’ stories and Scripture, DeMuth unpacks the church’s response to sexual violence and provides a healthy framework for the church to become a haven of healing instead of an institution of judgment.

Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength

by Chanequa Walker-Barnes (Cascade Books)
“Ten years ago I came to a startling realization:” begins Walker-Barnes, “I was a StrongBlackWoman, and being one was not working for me.” Over the remainder of the book, she dismantles the myth of the StrongBlackWoman, and emphasizes the role churches should play in unraveling the mythology.

The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose

by Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson (Oxford University Press)

Drawing up deep sociological research, Smith and Davidson explore the effects of generosity in 21st century America. Their conclusion? “More generous people are happier, suffer fewer illnesses and injuries, live with a greater sense of purpose, and experience less depression.” Sounds an awful lot like the way of Jesus.

Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community

by Leah Kostamo (Cascade Books)
Planted is Leah Kostamo’s well-crafted memoir of the journey that she and her husband made to starting A Rocha, the first Christian environmental center in Canada. “Maybe a major contribution this book can make to the Christian community these days,” writes Eugene Peterson, “is to challenge the widespread reluctance, a procrastination to embrace creation care—right now.”

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