A Reading List for the Fourth of July

Photo: Jeff Krause

In between bites of hot dog and sunscreen applications, you can read about police brutality, what the rest of the world thinks about the United States, one woman’s American wardrobe and so much more. Happy Independence Day, America!

1. “Quintessential American Fiction, According to the Rest of the World.” (Lit Hub, July 2015)

J.D. Salinger, Toni Morrison, Yiyun Li, Julie Otsuka and Annie Proulx are just a fraction of the authors cited by this “deeply unscientific survey of nearly 50 writers, editors, publishers, critics, and translators, representing 30 countries.” I feel patriotic just reading this list!

2. “How to Be Canadian on the Fourth of July.” (Stephanie Hallett, Pacific Standard, June 2016)

“Like every good Canadian, a huge part of my identity was formed around the fact that I’m not an American.”

3. “A Letter From Black America.” (Nikole Hannah-Jones, Politico Magazine, March 2015)

On the Fourth of July, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones witnessed a random shooting in Long Island. No one was injured, and Hannah-Jones did not consider calling the police. She elaborates on her decision in this essay about police brutality.

4. “My Mother’s ‘American Wardrobe.'” (Esmé Weijun Wang, Lenny, May 2016)

“I’ve had one particular conversation over and over again with other children of immigrants: When you don’t fit in because of skin color, accented English, and/or a poor command of local customs, clothing matters. Fake it till you make it; dress for the job you wish you had; maybe if you look like the well-heeled women in your Vogue magazines, you won’t be made to feel less-than by those who believe themselves to more obviously belong.”

5. “This Is An Alert.” (Thomas Pierce, The New Yorker, March 2015)

One of the most memorable pieces of short fiction I’ve read in the past few years. It feels quintessentially Fourth to me, with its dysfunctional family, food-centric gathering and normalized warfare.

6. “We Asked Foreign VICE Offices What They Think About America.” (Arielle Pardes, VICE, July 2015)

Aside from gross instances of fat-shaming, I really enjoyed hearing the perspectives of international VICE staffers, many of whom view America as a brash bodybuilder with great TV.