Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Michelle Anne Schingler

It was in the dewy palm of a trou­bled sum­mer that Fore­word’s ed­i­to­rial staff first looked ahead to this is­sue—the first sum­mer of a pres­i­dency that, right­fully, left many in a state of con­stant con­cern, in­clud­ing book peo­ple, whose whole lives are ded­i­cated to the ex­al­ta­tion of free and imaginative speech. Such speech sud­denly felt threat­ened. As often makes sense when you’re look­ing to­ward an un­cer­tain fu­ture, we thought that we should de­vote some space in this is­sue to look­ing back.

Fifty years back, to be ex­act—to 1968, an­other tu­mul­tuous year rent by po­lit­i­cal up­heaval, cries for change, acts of re­sis­tance, and, in some dis­may­ing cases, the vi­o­lent re­pres­sion of speech. It was the year we lost Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, a year of ri­ots, a time of fear—but also a time of great hope, as pro­tes­tors and coun­ter­cul­tural ac­tivists pushed for some­thing bet­ter.

You’ll find much of that un­cer­tainty and de­ter­mi­na­tion cov­ered in the riv­et­ing ti­tles of our 1968 fea­ture; their top­ics range from the pres­i­den­tial race to com­mune-liv­ing, and they re­mind us through­out of hu­man be­ings’ con­sum­mate abil­ity—if often only ar­tic­u­lated in the acts of a brave few—to re­sist.

Have we lost some of that fer­vor? There are valid con­cerns; the news is no hap­pier now than it was a year ago. But each time we turn to books—es­pe­cially in­de­pen­dent books, where the most fe­ro­cious and ho­mo­gene­ity-re­sis­tant voices re­side—we see plen­ti­ful ev­i­dence of en­thu­si­as­tic re­sis­tance.

De­spite it all, peo­ple are still find­ing ways to speak out, cre­ate, and ef­fect change. We see it in the sto­ries of our mem­oir fea­ture, in which re­tirees re­turn to their early dreams, in which change­mak­ers re­flect on their com­plex pasts, in which peo­ple over­come the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble. We see it in the pages of our fea­tured mys­ter­ies and thrillers, where writ­ers push their char­ac­ters, with in­ge­nu­ity and grit, past in­cred­i­ble ob­sta­cles. We see it in our chil­dren’s books, which fo­cus on sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, and math—self-con­sciously ig­nit­ing cu­rios­ity and en­cour­ag­ing prob­lem-solv­ing for next gen­er­a­tions.

I’ve found my­self do­ing a lot of es­capist read­ing this year, slid­ing into sci­ence fic­tion ti­tles, or tales of the fan­tas­tic, that push right past our present dis­tress to re­sus­ci­tate what’s best about the hu­man spirit. That’s valid, too, and there are plenty of ti­tles here worth rest­ing in. We some­times need the rest. Through sto­ries of Comic-con sleuthing, through nav­i­ga­tions of com­pli­cated youths, into rec­ol­lec­tions of by­gone days—ev­ery page is a panacea of some sort.

In the face of small-mind­ed­ness and in­creas­ing re­stric­tions, ev­ery book is an act of re­sis­tance. We are so proud to rec­om­mend these hun­dred-plus op­tions.

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