This year, many of us made resolutions to eat healthy, workout consistently, or set aside time to read more. Some of us have also recommitted to being useful to our community and our country by taking the Sworn-Again America Oath. If you’re interested in building a culture of powerful, responsible citizenship, below are four books we recommend adding to your 2023 reading list.

About the Author

As the child of immigrants and a second-generation American, Eric Liu brings a unique perspective on what it means to be an active citizen in these United States. Having written eight books (and counting), serving as the co-founder and CEO of Citizen University, and board member for civic organizations, Liu inspires new ways of thinking about — and committing to — the practice of citizenship.

Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy

In Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy, Eric Liu calls on Americans to create the nation they want to see by deepening their commitment to the practice of citizenship. Within this compilation of 19 essays, otherwise known as civic sermons, Liu delves into the ideals of democracy and why it’s still attainable, despite our current socio/political landscape today. Image of front book cover, Become America by Eric Liu

A civic sermon is more than a speech, talk, or address. Shared during Civic Saturdays — a civic analogue to faith gatherings — a civic sermon is a discourse intended to raise questions, challenge presumptions, and encourage a reckoning of civic faith. They evoke the essence of powerful citizenship and have the power to reignite a love for civic life.

If you are eager to get involved in rekindling civic faith in your community, we encourage you to pick up Become America; a New York Times Book Review, New and Noteworthy Book, Washington State Book Award Winner, and Silver Nautilus Book Award Winner. 

You’re More Powerful Than You Think

Birthed out of his TED Talk on power, Eric wrote You’re More Powerful Than You Think to provide citizens with a guide to make change happen. Used as a core part of our Youth Collaboratory program curriculum, You’re More Powerful Than You Think helps people of all ages catalyze change in their communities. Image of front book cover You're More Powerful Than You Think by Eric Liu

“…there is a gap between making demands and making them happen. It is the gap between the rhetoric of revolution and the actual changes in values, systems, habits, and skills that add up to a revolution.” — Eric Liu

If you’re interested in learning more about the concept of power, who has it, and how to reclaim yours, this book is for you.

The Gardens of Democracy

“America is an experiment. It is an experiment in democracy, still the greatest the world has ever seen. But it is also, like every nation, human community or living organism, an experiment in evolution. One thing that has made America exceptional thus far has been its ability to adapt… The question today is, can we still adapt? Will our experiment get another cycle? Or has our society’s capacity to evolve run its course?” asks Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer. Image of the front book cover, The Gardens of Democracy by Eric Liu

Written in collaboration with Nick Hanauer, Eric Liu challenges fossilized notions about democracy and argues why redefining the ideal is essential for moving our democracy forward.

In The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government, Liu and Hanauer examine the history of democracy, the impact of divisive conversations, wealth distribution, and challenge ideals belonging to both the far right and far left. Through the use of metaphors, the authors invite us to shape new beliefs of our government’s role in our society and discuss why it’s important to rethink our role as citizens of a democracy. 

*This book also made it on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “10 Books Everyone Should Read” list.

The True Patriot

Inspired by the pamphleteering style of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer joined forces to write The True Patriot — an amalgam of a model speech, manifesto, moral code, and ten-principle plan. “We believe that in these cynical times — especially in these times — there should be a higher call to country first,” says Liu and Hanauer. Image of front cover, The True Patriot by Eric Liu

Through an analysis of historical American literature, speeches, and media, Liu and Hanauer call attention to modern patriotism and the responsibility we have as Americans to reevaluate our beliefs and principles on the ideal.

Written for both progressives and conservatives, The True Patriot is a timely, short read examining the downturn of patriotism and the reawakening of powerful, responsible citizenship.