100 Books for America: Les Miserables

With 77 days until the election, let us continue looking at the 100 books every American should read. These write-ups will be short and not incredibly comprehensive looks at some books and novels that will help you become a better citizen. Check out all of the books that have been picked.

Imagine a book with these themes:

  • How an overly punitive criminal justice system punishes the poor and downtrodden.
  • How organized religion doesn’t always live up to its promises.
  • How income inequality oppresses the poor.
  • How access to health care isn’t fair.
  • How workers don’t have enough rights.

It sounds like Bernie Sanders’ recent best seller, but it’s a 200-year-old classic french novel.

Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables“ is mostly known through the hit Broadway musical, but the novel is even richer.

It clocks in at more than 1,000 pages and can really relate to today’s America.

One could almost imagine Jesse Waters telling his audience how Jean Valjean “Was no angel.”

Maybe you can see Pope Francis or Sister Helen Prejean in the role of Bishop Myriel, whose holiness is a strike contrast to the performative actions of most religious leaders.

One note of warning. It’s impressive if you read the unabridged translation, but this is one of the few books where an abridged version isn’t terrible. Hugo goes on a few tangents that don’t relate to the story, but we’re commentary on the day that we don’t need.

Either way, the story is complex, heartbreaking and beautiful. You can’t help but be changed when you’re done.

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Recently, we looked at the most powerful woman in American history. Up next, we look at The Great War.

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