William Gibson’s Resistance Reading

Authors pick books that bring solace and understanding in an age of rancor.


We asked a range of authors and creative types to recommend books that bring solace or understanding in this age of cultural and political rancor. More than two dozen responded. Here are selections from the pioneering science-fiction novelist William Gibson.

Latest book: The Peripheral
Also known for: Neuromancer
Reading recommendations: Essential reading for the era of Trump: Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior, by Hilary Evans and Robert Bartholomew. At 784 pages, a literal encyclopedia of the workings of rumor, fear, and the madness of crowds. As the back cover has it, “This Encyclopedia is an authoritative reference on a broad range of topics: collective behavior, deviance, social and perceptual psychology, sociology, history, folklore, religious studies, political science, social anthropology, gender studies, critical thinking, and mental health. Never before have so many sources been brought together on the mesmerizing topic of collective behavior.”

The election of Donald Trump is best understood in terms of collective behavior. Familiarity with the weird and terrifying things we’ve done before, as a species, is essential to understanding what many of us, driven by fear and uncertainty, are doing now. Baffled by Trump’s popularity (such as it is)? Read Evans and Bartholomew on lycanthropy and laughing epidemics. Seriously.

Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt
Master photo by
Michael O’Shea
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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 McKibbenRabbi Jack Moline, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Peggy Orenstein, Wendy C. Ortiz, Darryl Pinckney, Joe Romm, Karen Russell, George Saunders, Tracy K. Smith, Ayelet WaldmanJesmyn Ward, and Gene Luen Yang.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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