Novels for the Not-Yet-Socialists: Young Adult Fiction

We asked members of the YDS Coordinating Committee what novels they might give to a younger sibling this holiday season or what had influenced them. If you have a young adult on your gift list, you might want to check them out (or read or re-read them yourself). We encourage you to order from a local independent booksellerEd.

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The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath is a unique coming-of-age novel. Protagonist Esther Greenwood gets an internship at an upscale magazine in New York City. Rather than being the bright-eyed college student drawn by the allure of the city, she begins questioning her path in life and slowly spirals into depression. Throughout her struggle with depression she questions the role of women in society and the pressure they have to take on domestic duties. Greenwood consistently questions the oppressive patriarchal society of America in the mid-20th century. Greenwood is a strong female character whom young women can look to when searching for their feminist identity. - Shelby Murphy

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Capital—In Manga! Karl Marx’s ground-breaking work is as relevant today as when first published in 1867. Our current chaotic “boom and bust economy,” coupled with the mass exploitation of a truly international work force, makes Marx’s analysis of the laws of capitalist motion extremely useful to organizers. Introducing people, especially young readers, to Marx’s tome, however, is a difficult task given its length and denseness. Luckily, Capital—In Manga!, published in 2012 by Red Quill Press, provides a graphic, novelized introduction to key concepts of Capital. The story follows Robin, a young cheese-maker, who confronts moral dilemmas and class contradiction as his company grows. Capital—In Manga! is a must-have for young people who are interested in Marx but unsure of where to start. 
- Andee Sunderland

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Most people on the left have had that “aha!” moment, when radicalization began. Mine started in my early childhood with books, and with a few books in particular. One of them was Dune, by Frank Herbert. Dune is set in the arid desert of Arrakis, where the most valuable natural resource of them all can be found, spice. Spice is so valuable that wars are fought over it, lives are risked to mine it, and treaties have been made to stop one nation from monopolizing it. The protectors of this desert are called Fremen, who live in what I would call something very near the last stage of communism. This book is one of the greatest works of science fiction, and anyone who loves the genre should read it, many times if possible. - Femi Agbabiaka

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Ray Bradbury paints a dismal, dystopian future in his classic novel Fahrenheit 451, where it has become a social norm for people to spend their time watching television and listening to the radio without engaging in critical thinking or even appreciation of the world around them. Books, in Bradbury’s dystopia, are not only banned, but actively sought out and burned by “firemen.” The story follows the awakening of fireman Guy Montag, as he realizes the value of books while recognizing how dangerously conformist society has become. Despite its simplistic story line, the novel presents a powerful reminder of the dangers of conformity and censorship. Fahrenheit 451 warns of the toll censorship and the resulting conformity will take on society. As socialists, we should heed this warning by challenging censorship as it appears. - Melody Yee

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Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. It’s divided into two sections that tell the story of her life both before and after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The first part covers her childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, with part two picking up with Marjane attending high school in Vienna and then carrying on through her return to Iran for college, her marriage, divorce, and leaving Iran to live in France. I recommend this novel because it does a fantastic job of showing that regardless of the differences among global leaders, the people aren’t all that different. - Jacob Curry

Other Resources:

www.bustle.com/articles/18681-5-amazing-young-adult-novels-starring-characters-of-color

www.xojane.com/entertainment/diversify-your-ya-six-books-with-minority-main-characters

www.malindalo.com/2013/10/ya-books-about-lgbt-characters-of-color/

http://disabilityinkidlit.wordpress.com/

http://flavorwire.com/457048/15-teen-feminist-books-everyone-should-read/view-all


Showing 2 reactions


commented 2014-12-18 23:53:46 -0500 · Flag
I almost forgot Thus Spoke Zarathustra, also a big influence on me in high school. Nietzsche, Rand, Marx… although they represent disparate philosophies, they do have one thing in common: atheism. Also, the willingness to reconsider current paradigms and institutions and propose radical alternatives. There’s philosophical and maybe real danger in writers like these. Great stuff for young minds to wrestle with. Atheism allowed me to approach social science, like everything else, with a sense of absolute freedom and willingness to question everything. Eventually I came to the conclusion that free market ideologies, despite their claims to represent a soundly individualist deontological ethical system, are ultimately unconcerned with the individual and with progress in general.
commented 2014-12-18 23:09:53 -0500 · Flag
The two most influential books for me in high school were Ayn Rand’s Anthem and Marx’s and Engels’s Communist Manifesto. Then in my Junior and Senior years came The Count of Monte Cristo and War and Peace, which I would add to this list. Young adult literature never turned me on. Dune rocks!

Starting a Local Chapter from Scratch (9pm Eastern)

October 04, 2016 · 8 rsvps
Webinar, RSVP required for sign in information

So you are now a member of DSA, but there is no local chapter where you live. You are thinking of starting a local chapter, but you're not quite sure how to do it.

In Starting a Local Chapter from Scratch you will learn:

  • how other locals got started in recent years
  • how to find out who is already a member
  • the importance of a comrade
  • how to recruit new members
  • the importance of a mentor
  • how to become a recognized organizing committee
  • how to become a chartered local
  • what works best to bring new people in.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

Instructor:

  • Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

Training Details:

  1. Workshops are free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have preferably headphones or else speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org 607-280-7649.
  5. If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt schmittaj@gmail.com 608-355-6568.
  6. You can participate in every webinar or just attend once in a while.
  7. Workshops will generally be on weekends or evenings.
  8. Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance -- by midnight Sunday for Tuesday's webinar.

NOTE: This training is scheduled for 9:00pm Eastern Time (8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific, 5pm Alaska, 3 pm Hawaii).

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DSA New Member Orientation Call

October 19, 2016 · 22 rsvps
DSA New Member Orientation

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 6 PM MT; 5 PM PT.

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