Bridgers Book Club
This is a fun and easy way to bridge divides across America… invite your friends and family to delve into a rich crop of books that explore our country’s divisions and offer promising solutions. This list provides an inspiring start! And explore more books below.
- The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide (Mark Gerzon) Examples of how Americans are bridging the partisan divide and finding common ground.
- Don’t Label Me: How to Do Diversity Without Inflaming the Culture Wars (Irshad Manji) Concrete tips and stories about how we can stop labeling and start listening, while utilizing our diversity to repair divides.
- High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out (Amanda Ripley) Multiple stories of how people get sucked into unhealthy conflict and how to get out.
- The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization (Peter Coleman) A mixture of personal stories with research outline practices and principles for healing the division in our lives, relationships, and country.
- The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (Jonathan Haidt) This book dives into moral psychology to explain differences in political belief, how moral judgment is formed, group behavior and more.
- I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times (Mónica Guzmán) In this timely, personal guide, Mónica, the chief storyteller for the national cross-partisan depolarization organization Braver Angels, takes you to the real front lines of a crisis that threatens to grind America to a halt—broken conversations among confounded people.
- Let us know what you’re reading and your insights: #civichealthproject, #bridgersbookclub
Need More Ideas? Check These Out
Books that explain American Polarization and Tribalism
- Political Tribes (Amy Chua) A prescription for unity overcoming our political tribalism at home and abroad.
- Moral Tribes (Joshua Greene) Offers a set of simple maxims by using neuroscience, psychology and philosophy to understand tribal conflict.
- Poles Apart: Why Divisions Deepen and Societies Splinter (Alison Goldsworthy, Laura Osborne and Alex Chesterfield)* Based on interviews with leaders across differences to understand polarization and steps we can take to narrow division.
- A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (Thomas Sowell) An analysis of conflict patterns to present two competing “visions” that shape most debates.
- Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Kwame Anthony Appiah) An international and historical perspective on overcoming division between Us and Them.
- Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow Into a Better Version of Itself (Steve McIntosh) In Developmental Politics, Steve McIntosh shows how this growing rift in the fabric of American society is a cultural problem that requires a cultural solution.
- American Schism: How the Two Enlightenments Hold the Secret to Healing our Nation (Seth David Radwell) In this book, Seth David Radwell links the fascinating history of the two American Enlightenments to our raging political division.
- The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth (Jonathan Rauch) Jonathan Rauch reaches back to the parallel eighteenth-century developments of liberal democracy and science to explain what he calls the “Constitution of Knowledge”—our social system for turning disagreement into truth.
- Beyond Civility: The Competing Obligations of Citizenship (William Keith & Robert Danisch) Examining the history of the concept and its basis in communication and political theory, William Keith and Robert Danisch present a clear, robust analysis of civil discourse
Books with tools and ideas to help bridge differences
Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work (Tania Israel) This book covers how to have dialogue across political lines and offers practical tools to increase understanding and reduce stress related to political discord.
- Breaking the Social Media Prism: Making Our Platforms Less Polarizing (Chris Bail) Recommendations to utilize social media in ways that counter political tribalism and strengthen connection.
- Bridge Builders (Nathan Bomey) Examples of Americans who are bridging differences, developing greater understanding and redefining compromise.
- In Defense of Troublemakers (Charlan Nemeth) A case against consensus and how dissent can disrupt the status quo and result in better decision-making.
- Clash!: How to Thrive in a Multicultural World (Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner) Defines two ways of being that shape many of our cultural divides – and how we might turn those differences into strengths.
- Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe the Other Side (Robert B. Talisse) An argument for civility of political opponents based on social science research.
- The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt (Sinan Aral) An account of how social media affects our lives and strategies for being more critical consumers of it.
- Yes, You CAN Talk Politics: A Workbook for Talking Across Party Lines (Lisa Swallow) A workbook for talking with people whose views are so different from yours that it’s hard not to see them as ignorant, duped or just plain crazy.
- Our Common Bonds: Using What Americans Share to Help Bridge the Partisan Divide (Matthew Levendusky) A compelling exploration of concrete strategies to reduce partisan animosity by building on what Democrats and Republicans have in common.
- What’s Our Problem?: A Self-Help Book for Societies (Tim Urban) From the creator of the wildly popular blog Wait But Why, a fun and fascinating deep dive into what the heck is going on in our strange, unprecedented modern times.
Books to build your empathy muscles
- Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (Arlie Russell Hochschild) Sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley and tells the story of Tea Party Movement in Louisiana.
- Janesville: An American Story (Amy Goldstein) Insightful profiles of laid-off GM workers in Wisconsin who tend to vote more conservatively.
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness (Austin Channing Brown) A memoir about growing up Black, Christian, and female in majority-white schools and churches.
- The Person You Mean to Be (Dolly Chugh) A guide to being a “good-ish” person – rather than good – by understanding bias and living your values.
- No One Was Listening (Lisa Swallow) The true story of the journey that led Lisa Swallow to co-found Crossing Party Lines, the national nonprofit that effectively teaches Americans from all walks of life to take part in civil, productive political conversations.
Books to make you feel hopeful:
- See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (Valarie Kaur) A personal story about practicing love – with others, with our opponents, and with ourselves – as a way to transform the world.
- The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening (Tim Shriver and John Rosshirt) A collection of dozens of messages of inspiration, answering a call to heal and unite at the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic.
- Our Common Ground: Insights From Four Years of Listening to American Voters (Diane Hessan) A summary of over 500 conversations with Americans demonstrate we have more common ground than we realize.
- Union: A Democrat, a Republican, and a Search for Common Ground (Jordan Blashek and Christopher Haugh) A story of two friends, a Democrat and a Republican, and their trip across the country to find out how far apart we are.
- Mending Our Union: Healing Our Communities Through Courageous Conversations (J. Christopher Collins) Practical suggestions and anecdotes about having difficult conversations with people who don’t share your views about politics, religion, or race.
- We Need To Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy (Eboo Patel) From the former faith adviser to President Obama comes an inspirational guide for those who seek to promote positive social change and build a more diverse and just democracy
- Portraits of Peace: Searching for Hope in a Divided America (John Noltner) Stories and photography that capture Americans’ response to the question: “What does peace mean to you?”
Books for Younger Bridgers:
For young readers:
- The World Needs More Purple People (Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart) A funny and inspirational message about becoming everyday superheroes: purple people.
For tween / teen / young adult readers
- The Bathwater Brigade (Jefferson Shupe) A fictional story about college students trying to bridge divides in their town during the trial of a police officer who shot an unarmed Black man.