I know that I have followers world wide, but yesterday was Fourth of July and I wanted to try to honor that in a bookish style. My family and I keep our Fourth’s pretty chill. Not going to lie, the most patriotic thing I did was eat corn dogs (it doesn’t get much more American than that)!
But lately I’ve been finding it hard to be patriotic. So many discriminatory laws have been passed and there’s been terrorist attacks on minorities. America doesn’t feel like America should feel. Thankfully there are books. The following books are books that help me remember the good stuff about my home and make me proud that I live here, despite the flaws.
Now none of these books scream “AMERICA!!!” and none of these books are even about being a patriot, but each has a distinct American element. If I had to give someone a book to introduce them to American culture, I’d point them to any one of these books.
Even if you aren’t American I hope you find a book that interests you. I’d love to hear what books make you feel patriotic for your country!
The Martian (Andy Weir): This book is one of my favorites of the year. True, the majority of the book takes place on Mars, but NASA plays a huge role in this too. My little nerdy self delighted in all the science and history of American space exploration throughout the book. Also, Mark had some of those “ideal” American traits. Like an inability to die when he was supposed to cause he’s too stubborn. Another trait/theme was teamwork. While Mark is trying to survive on an empty planet, NASA does a ton of teamwork. Divisions that don’t typically get along work together start working flawlessly (sort of) for a common goal. One thing I love about America is despite those who want to promote fear and hate, America really does know how to pull together in a crisis. The Martian captures this and the American fighting spirit perfectly. If you want you can read my review of it here.
Divergent (Veronica Roth): While I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as I thought I would (forever crying over that), Divergent still has some great elements. It takes place in Chicago (which according to Google is the second most popular city in the US) in a dystopian future. The reason this book is on my list is because part of the American dream is conquering your fears to reach your goals. Triss’ faction, Divergent, is all about that. The whole plot of the book revolves around one group trying to take away the freedom of the little guys, another major talking point in the US. It’s a very political book overall. Divergent does an excellent job showing how politics impact every element of life, and how the media controls it. That’s been a topic that’s been talked about a lot lately in America. Also, speaking of American dreams, the author wrote the book while she was in college and published while she was in her early twenties. Really this book indirectly embodies so much about America (the good and the bad) it’s nuts.
The Princess Diaries (Meg Cabbot): As Americans we pride ourselves on our numerous underdog and Cinderella stories. It doesn’t get much more Cinderella than The Princess Diaries! Mia becomes reasonably upset when she discovers her parents lied to her for fifteen years and kept her princess identity from her. Then comes the grandmother (who in this case could be the sort of wicked step-mother) to give the royal makeover. Despite the fantastical scenario, Mia’s story is true to the struggles of American teens.Mia and her diverse group of friends make a plethora of pop-culture references that really highlight their Americanness (I’m sorry, but there’s certain things only someone from America would ever say about Baywatch). Not to mention that the books takes place in New York City, the most famous city in the U.S. While the first two books on the list touch on the American fight spirit and resilience, The Princess Diaries focuses on the heart, hopefulness, and determination of the upcoming American generations. It’s fluff, but it’s filled with powerful truths and an all around great time!
Private (Kate Brian):
(Why haven’t more people read this series?!?) Education is one of the most controversial issues in America. You’re right, it shouldn’t be, but there’s a lot of conflict and politics involved with our education system. I feel like the Private series perfectly captures this slice of America. If you’re into boarding schools and drama, this series is for you. Reed goes to Easton, an elite boarding school on scholarship. If she makes it here, she can get away from her agonizing life back home and make it into any college. If she makes it. Not only are the classes more challenging than anything she’s ever encountered, teachers that are supposed to help and advocate for her, just don’t do that. And what so many people don’t realize, is that on school campuses, it’s not the teachers that run the roost, it’s the students. There is so much that goes on that teachers should be aware of, but aren’t. Again, this ties into big government politics. But Reed’s adventures at Easton captures the questionable morals of just how far should one go to secure a future for themselves, and how education can play a huge role in that. It’s not all bad though. Over the course of the series Reed does what so many of us students do. We make a faulty system work for us.
Last but not least:
Follow the Model: Miss J’s Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power (J. Alexander): If you’re into fashion and/or are a fan of America’s Next Top Model, you’ve probably heard of the model J. Alexander. The media and American modeling industry is all about real…just so long as it’s not too real (yay photoshop!) or intimidating. Your real can never be too much. Miss J shakes that idea up and replaces it with something that’s much closer to the real heart of America. Be too much and love yourself for it. Sharing the story and teachings of his mother as well as life lessons he’s learned along the way, Miss J takes us on a journey that starts in the Bronx and goes around the world. But always, Miss J takes pride in his heritage and who he is. He talks in depth about his experiences in the perusal of his dreams, the good and the bad. Despite how often the media shoves unrealistic expectations down our throats, J. Alexander shows through real life examples that you can break free from that and live out your own American dream by being your crazy beautiful self.
So then, questions for you: Have you read any of these books, and if so what did you think? What books make you feel proud to be a part of your country and/or proud of your heritage?