What to Read on Resilience

In anticipation of the beginning of the 2021-2022 fellowship year, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) asked its incoming Faculty and Graduate Fellows for book recommendations on resilience, the organizing research theme for the year. Here are 10 books recommended by NDIAS fellows that will help deepen our understanding of the topic. 

The NDIAS will be organizing regular programming on resilience throughout the year, including research seminars, guest lectures, film screenings, and social events. If you’d like to stay informed about the latest NDIAS news and events, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Felon Poems Red Size

Felon: Poems
Reginald Dwayne Betts (2021-2022 NDIAS Artist in Residence)
W.W. Norton & Company, 2019

Collection of poems that tells the story of the effects of incarceration. The work uses new and traditional poetic forms, such as found poems created by redacting court documents and a series of sonnets that brings the work to its conclusion.

Thick 2 Red Size

Thick: And Other Essays
Tressie McMillan Cottom
The New Press, 2019

Personal essays from the acclaimed author who is unapologetically “thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less.” The essays explore beauty, media, money, and more.

Revolutionary Mothering Red Size

Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines
Edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams
PM Press, 2016

Anthology that places marginalized mothers of color at the center of a world of necessary transformation, illustrating that the challenges we face while working for racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that many mothers face every day.

Building A Resilient Tomorrow Red Size

Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption
Alice C. Hill and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz 
Oxford University Press, 2019

Pragmatic guide focusing on solutions to climate change—some gradual and some more revolutionary—that are currently being deployed around the globe. Each chapter presents a thematic lesson for decision-makers and engaged citizens to consider.

Under A White Sky Red Size

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
Elizabeth Kolbert
Crown, 2021

Examines the new world we are creating as our impact on the earth increases, showing that the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation.

The Sympathizer Nguyen Red Size

The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Grove Atlantic, 2016

Novel about a conflicted, subversive idealist working as a double agent in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Learning To Die Red Size

Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization
Roy Scranton (2021-2022 NDIAS Teaching Lab Fellow)
City Lights Books, 2015

Draws on personal experience in Iraq to confront the grim realities of climate change, combining memoir, reportage, philosophy, and Zen wisdom to explore what it means to be human in a rapidly evolving world.

Antifragile Taleb Red Size

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Random House, 2014

Investigates the category of “antifragile” things, which not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust—the resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

The Body Keeps The Score Red Size

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Bessel van der Kolk
Penguin Books

Explores how trauma can rewrite the brain’s wiring—especially the areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust—and how these areas can be reactivated through neurofeedback, mindfulness, play, yoga, and other techniques.

Warmth Of Other Suns Red Size

Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Isabel Wilkerson
Vintage Books, 2010

Chronicles the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities from 1915 to 1970 in search of a better life.


The NDIAS convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty fellows, top doctoral candidates, and undergraduate scholars to study questions that require a joint focus, benefit from sustained research and discussion, and advance our understanding on core issues that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives. To learn more about the fellowship program and the Institute, please visit


Kristian Olsen / Fellowships, Outreach, and Operations Program Manager

Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.2830 / @NotreDameIAS

About Notre Dame Research:

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.

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