We asked a range of authors and creative types to name books that bring solace or understanding in this age of rancor. More than two dozen responded. Here are picks from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, doctor, and cancer researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Latest book: The Gene: An Intimate History
Also known for: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Reading recommendations: How could one not choose the timeless Henrik Ibsen play An Enemy of the People? A Norwegian doctor suspects that the municipal water in a town has been contaminated with toxins. He hesitates but ultimately follows his moral instincts to release the news to the public. He is dubbed an enemy of the people and publicly flayed. Perhaps the president forgot the irony of that title in using the phrase to describe the press.
Oh, and I am reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm. (Same reasons apply: “Four legs bad, two legs good.”) Finally, for pleasure, I have started reading poetry—Ben Lerner, Kay Ryan—to prevent my poor brain from rotting slowly.
Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt
The complete series: Daniel Alarcón, Kwame Alexander, Margaret Atwood, W. Kamau Bell, Ana Castillo, Jeff Chang, T Cooper, Michael Eric Dyson, Dave Eggers, Reza Farazmand, William Gibson, Mohsin Hamid, Piper Kerman, Phil Klay, Alex Kotlowitz, Bill McKibben, Rabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet Waldman, Jesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.