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To help us with our political education, we’re hitting the books. Depending on when and where you went to school, you may remember American Government and politics textbooks as dense and boring (did anyone actually read those things?), which is why we’ve decided to approach this roundup a bit differently. 

You’ll notice this list is a bit unconventional, and it doesn’t include your textbook from college. That’s because we think political education materials should feel accessible, inclusive, and (dare we say) fun. 

The following books show us that political education can be both entertaining and informative—in fact, one is even hailed as a “gripping page-turner.” From nonpartisan guides and illustration books to a YA novel and NYT Bestseller, here’s your reading list to help you feel ready and empowered for every election.

And for more accessible political content, check out our guides for How To Read A Ballot, How To Vote By Mail, and How To Fact-Check Media. Happy reading (and voting)!

1. What You Should Know about Politics . . . But Don’t

Author | Jessamyn Conrad 

In the fourth edition of What You Should Know about Politics…But Don’t: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues That Matter, Jessamyn Conrad breaks down all the issues and parties without any bias or persuasive writing. Conrad is a senior consultant and the daughter of a former North Dakota senator, and she claims to have no party affiliation and is deeply critical of the current system. This book has received praise from both sides of the aisle and is an excellent resource for understanding politics.

Price | $17, or find secondhand

Review | “Engaging…An invaluable tool for all of us who yearn to move beyond the confusing level of political discussion in our contentious era…An intelligent nonpartisan guide.” –Doris Kearns Goodwin, Historian and Author

2. She Votes

Author | Bridget Quinn

This book of intersectional stories is about the women who won suffrage, as well as those who have had to continue to fight for equality. From historian Bridget Quinn, She Votes: How U.S. Women Won Suffrage, and What Happened Next highlights 100 women artists. It’s an essential and empowering read that should be on everyone’s shelf.

Price | $35, or find secondhand

Review | “Wise, wry, and exuberant, Bridget Quinn’s She Votes takes us through the tumultuous battle for women’s voting rights. The original artwork dazzles. It’s an inspiring call to action and the celebration that the centennial deserves.” –Vanessa Hua, Journalist and Author

3. What You Need To Know About Voting—And Why

Author | Kim Wehle

Kim Wehle is a legal expert, CBS News analyst, and professor of law. In her latest book, What You Need To Know About Voting—And Why, she thoroughly explains the American voting system, from registration to counting votes. Wehle also explores voter-related issues like foreign interference, the influence of PACs, and voter suppression. Using accessible language and covering some of the most basic but misunderstood democracy-related questions, this book is a great primer leading up to an election.

Price | $18, or find secondhand

Review | “Now, more than ever,  Americans are realizing that their votes count. Kim Wehles excellent guide tells you everything you need to know about the laws governing our greatest right and privilege.”  –Norah O’Donnell, Anchor and Managing Editor, CBS Evening News

4. The New Jim Crow

Author | Michelle Alexander

To better understand politics in the United States, it’s also essential that we examine the American justice system—with all its successes and failures. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a scrutinizing assessment of the criminal justice system and racial discrimination. Written by highly esteemed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar Michelle Alexander, this New York Times Bestseller has been hailed one of the most important reads of the 21st century, so much so that its required reading on campuses across the country. 

Price | $19, or find secondhand

Review | “A must-read for anyone who is serious about understanding the current state of law, order and justice.” –Lauren C., Goodreads Review

5. The Woman’s Hour

Author | Elaine Weiss

Another book to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement, this one is a gripping page-turner. The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote is written by award-winning journalist and writer Elaine Weiss, and she describes the final days and hours leading up to the historic victory. Grab a copy to commemorate the anniversary and to learn more about women’s suffrage.

Price | $18, or find secondhand

Review | “[Weiss] never shies away from the complicating issue of race; the frequent conflict and occasional sabotage that occurred between women’s suffrage activists and the leaders of the nascent civil rights movement make for some of the most fascinating material in the book.” –Margot Lee Shetterly, Author

6. The Voting Booth

Author | Brandy Colbert

American political books don’t have to be limited to biographies and historical nonfiction, as award-winning author Brandy Colbert has so wonderfully demonstrated in her most recent YA novel. Following the story of two teenagers on voting day, the novel illuminates the more problematic aspects of the American voting system, including voter suppression. The Voting Booth is excellent for first-time voters and emphasizes the importance of civic engagement and voting. It’s the perfect read for anyone preparing to vote in their first election. 

Price | $19, or find secondhand

Review | “Marva and Duke are real, relatable, and oh so easy to fall in love with. The well-paced story is one our country needs right now.” –Sarah K., Goodreads Review

7. The Politics Book

Publisher | DK Books

As part of its Big Ideas Simply Explained book series, DK Books has published a clear and simple political guide, complete with graphics, quotes, and accessible text. It includes ancient philosophers (like Confucius) to the voices shaping modern politics (like Malcolm X) and everyone in between. With more than 100 groundbreaking ideas in the history of political thought, The Politics Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained is an informative read for anyone wondering how politics works. 

Price | $18, or find secondhand

Review | “With easy-to-follow graphics, succinct quotations, and accessible text, The Politics Book is an essential reference for students and anyone wondering how politics works.” –

What are you reading, listening to, and watching to stay politically informed? Share in the comments below!