The Beatles reading a newspaper

$20 Superpack: Understand the News

by Kaycee Eckhardt, J Gerlach, Dan Méndez Moore, Super Pack! and Kristian Williams

There are a lot of serious issues in the world, and let's face it, scrolling through the headlines and memes isn't teaching any of us much of anything about any of them. Here's a selection of books that'll help you understand the deeper stories behind some of what's going on in the news right now. It's way more empowering and, let's face it, less purely depressing, to get to know different sides of the issues and get a better idea of how complicated—and fascinating—the world really is.  

To help you understand the history of race and protest in America (and how history well and truly repeats itself), start with Six Days in Cincinnati, Dan Méndez Moore's graphic novel account of the 2001 Cincinnati "riots" in the wake of an unarm black teen being shot by police. Put the debates over common core and charter schools into new perspective with Katrina's Sandcastles, Kaycee Eckhardt's from-the-class-room account of teaching high school reading in New Orleans. Kristian Williams's Hurt walks you through how a democracy comes to condone torture. And J Gerlach's simple zine history of the Cold War throws back the curtain on how we got this way, in the big picture view. 

No book can tell you everything you need to know about any issue, but these are all good starting-off points to put the news in perspective so you can choose informed action over panicked reaction.