John Lewis creates an incredibly compelling historical memoir in Walking with the Wind. It’s one man’s experience, but it also chronicles the experience of a whole community. While it was written in 1996, so many parts ring true for today’s turbulent world.

If you want to know how we got here, read this book. And if you want to know how and where we go from here, read this book. If you’ve been feeling discouraged at the social and political state of the U.S., read this book. So, really, just read this book.

It’s 500 pages, so you’ll be making a commitment. But when you count the literal steps Lewis has taken for the betterment of mankind since 1960, you’re not making much of a commitment. So, read this book.

Lewis worked with Michael D’Orso, an author with many books to his credit. The two of them create a readable chronicle, heavy on detail and philosophy. It’s never preachy. Lewis strikes just the right tone, because he’s never high and mighty. He’s a man from rural Alabama, who’s risen well beyond what he dreamed. His rise wasn’t for his own gain, but for the people he represented and still represents as a Georgia Congressman.

My conclusions

I read this book with a group of bookish friends. We have one copy of the book, and sent it along to the next person after reading and annotating. Part of the joy was in seeing others’ comments. The sad part is I won’t have an annotated copy in my house.

Lewis talks about living in a ramshackle sharecropper’s house during an intense storm. They people inside the house would move from corner to corner depending on where the wind blew. They were literally holding the house down with their weight.

“Children holding hands, walking with the wind. That is America to me—not just the movement for civil rights but the endless struggle to respond with decency, dignity, and a sense of brotherhood to all the challenges that face us as a nation, as a whole.”

I couldn’t have picked a more timely moment to read this book. This is the history and inspiration I needed this month.

During the last two years, I’ve also been consciously opening my reading choices to books about social justice. Last year I read quite a few, including Lewis’ graphic novel trilogy, March. Some of March’s information was originally published in this book. This year, I haven’t read as many, but I’ve chosen some powerful books. (Michael Eric Dyson, Patrisse Khan-Cullours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Van Jones)

I highly recommend either the March trilogy or this book. Or both. John Lewis has always worked for the greater good of our country. He is a rare politician and human being, and a legitimate hero.