A populist bellwether and progressive icon, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has become one of America’s leading liberal voices in her fight to rebuild the nation’s collapsing middle class. Alongside her legal and political careers, she’s authored more than a hundred articles and twelve books, including the bestsellers This Fight Is Our Fight, A Fighting Chance, The Two-Income Trapand All Your Worth. Her first children’s book, Pinkie Promises, came out last year.

Born to a working-class family in Oklahoma, Warren began waiting tables at the age of 13 to help her parents make ends meet. She excelled at school early on, becoming a state debate champion and graduating from high school by 16. The first member of her family to graduate from college, she’d go on to earn a law degree from Rutgers and spend more than 30 years teaching courses on commercial, contract, and bankruptcy law at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2012, Warren become the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. Dedicating her political career to expanding consumer protections, economic opportunity, and the social safety net, she was a frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, ultimately coming out third.

Warren recently took part in Elle’s book column Shelf Life, sharing some of the titles that have brought her comfort, courage, and compassion over the years. From Charles Dickens to Ann Patchet, find her favorites below, and complement with the reading lists of AOC, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Stacey Abrams.


The Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly

“Harry makes mistakes, but he sticks to his principles – and he always works it out in the end. That was a very comforting series of books to read when I was a first-time candidate thrown into a bruising, uphill race for the United States Senate.” -EW

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

“My family survived that Depression and Dust Bowl, and I was so caught up in the story, I couldn’t leave them until it finally rained and the country started to heal.” -EW

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

“I tear up even now when I think about the boy shooting his dog.” -EW

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

“So much truth in that book.” -EW

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (also rec’d by Frank OceanHenry Rollins, Jane Elliott & J. Cole)

“The opening paragraphs knocked me flat.” -EW

The Chickenshit Club by Jesse Eisinger

“It makes me so furious to read that I have to put it down for long stretches.” -EW

America’s War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew J. Bacevich

“Full of lessons we have not yet learned.” -EW

Frank by Barney Frank

“Years later, I think of some of the things Barney or his supporters said, and I still laugh out loud.” -EW

The John Rain series by Barry Eisler

“Rain is my favorite assassin, a loner who, bit by bit, falls in love with a friend, a father, lover, a son.” -EW

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (also rec’d by Reese Witherspoon)

“Lyrical.” -EW

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (also rec’d by Amy PoehlerChristopher HitchensDean KoontzGeorge R.R. MartinMaya Angelou & Uzo Aduba)

“‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’ Yeah, I know we all learned it in high school, but even now, when the world seems runaway, I recite the beginning of the sentence and think of upheaval, the French Revolution, love and sacrifice – and it all seems more manageable.” -EW

$2.00 a Day by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

“Everyone should get a close look at how the poorest Americans live.” -EW

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty (also rec’d by David Foster Wallace)

“Bruce [husband Bruce Mann] and I listened to it on a road trip through Yellowstone and across Montana and Wyoming.” -EW

Cases and Materials on Contract Law by Robert Hamilton, Alan Rau, and Russell Weintraub

“I taught the course for 25 years, and this was the book I used.” -EW

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

“I put it on my headphones when I’m really stressed, and I drift into another world.” -EW

Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert

“In the midst of a growing climate crisis, this book simultaneously urges action and teaches caution.” -EW

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (also rec’d by Reese Witherspoon)

“People – even people who are badly damaged – get better.” -EW

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

“Because it wasn’t a sermon; it was a journey that unfolded a bit at a time.” -EW

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (also rec’d by Axl RoseHozierKareem Abdul-JabbarKurt CobainLenny KravitzLiz Phair, Philip RothRichey Edwards, Scarlett Johansson & Uzo Aduba)

“C’mon – it’s mythic.” -EW

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (also rec’d by Glennon DoyleGloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, John Lennon, Maya Angelou & Shonda Rhimes)

“I lived multiple lives in reading and re-reading that book across many summers. I was Jo. Then Meg. Then Beth (I imagined my own great death). Then back to Jo. (Never Amy – what a priss!).” -EW

The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook by Yvonne Young Tarr

“The Mexican oatmeal soup has become a staple of our lives; I make it every Christmas Eve.” -EW

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

“How to make a ‘barmaid’s gin and tonic’ to serve people who are already drunk. I’ve never needed to know this, but knowing it is like being let in on a cool little secret. Thank you, Ann Patchett.” -EW

(via Elle)

Categories: Politicians Writers