All the ways you can shoehorn politics into your book

Hello!! After my post yesterday, I thought it might be fun to talk about all the ways you can (and some of the ways I’ve seen) shoehorn politics into books- enjoy!

Usual *disclaimers* that this is satire and should not be taken too seriously applies…

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room: Donald Trump is ORANGE- and there’s no way that joke’s been overused- so make it at least five times. For no reason. Preferably with cheerleaders over lunch. Because cheerleaders are very politically engaged.

orangutan and trump

Yeah laugh it up… but all us orangutans are *offended*

While we’re at it these high schoolers are having a normal conversation and then BAM *moralising*. It’s been a lonnng time since I’ve mentioned this but you can and you must *insert the most banal opinions* into dialogue. Preferably something that virtue signals just how on message the author is and strawmans the opposing view. My favourite is the good, old-fashioned “war is bad”. You can follow this up with “yes, but it’s necessary”, then “but it’s b-a-d”. Etcetera, etcetera, until the bell tolls.

saved by the bell
Well done, have a pat on the back

Oh look, your character has litter- and you know what that means don’t you… GLOBAL WARMING (of course there are several stages in between, but who cares, what is science anyway) And you know when I’m reading a fluffy teen romance, I want to be reminded that the polar ice caps are melting. Please, tell me more. Time for a page long monologue while they walk the halls…


Remember: “catch it, bin it, kill it”- put that on your book’s tagline 😉

Now your character is sitting in class. Perfect time for some internal thoughts! Perhaps akin to: “Something, something, red button, something something, we’re all gonna die… oh is that a hot guy! Never mind.” That’s called stream of consciousness and it’s for only the smartest writers!

seinfeld gif.gif

BREXIT (there’s no punchline, just put that in and leave your reader to squirm)


Also, the teacher gets to use their lesson as a soapbox for their political views- YAY MORE MORALISING! (actually this happens … I don’t know why I’m being so sarky about books for, they’re kinda just representing the politicisation of everyday life- which means all of the above is actually just representing real life- which makes me wonder WHAT THE HELL is happening in the real world arghhhh)


Annnd that’s all I have for now! What other ways do you think politics can be shoehorned into a book? Let me know in the comments!


78 thoughts on “All the ways you can shoehorn politics into your book

  1. sorryless says:

    The legendary Gary Jennings was a master of historical fiction. Methinks he might have done well as a political writer. I for one, am thankful he wasn’t, lol.

    Well done OG!! You made politics fun again! For the first time!!!


    PS- I haven’t eaten an orange in more than a year.

    Liked by 4 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehe well it depends. I generally avoid books with the “feminist” label, but I think the lines are generally quite blurred. Usually a litmus test for whether they’re empowered or ideological is if the female characters can do no wrong. But far worse is when they start parroting political talking points. Incidentally, the term “politically correct” is a good eg- if turns up, I’ll be beyond peeved- most people don’t realise it originates from the Soviet Union.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. FranL says:

    I don’t mind it if the book is overt about what it’s doing. Just as an example, I recently read “Autumn” by Ali Smith. The description on the book said that it was set in the summer of 2016 against the backdrop of Brexit. So I knew going into it that I could expect something to do with it. That’s fine. I wouldn’t have read the book if it bothered me! But if it has nothing to do with anything that’s happening and was just put in so that the author could share his/her views, that’s annoying. Like if you’re reading a teen romance that goes into a long discussion about global warming. If global warming has something to do with the plot or the action or the characters, I don’t mind. But if it was just thrown in so that the author could say something via the characters, it’s awkward.

    Liked by 4 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I totally get what you mean. I do think that if I’m expecting something political then I’ll go in knowing that’s what it is and be fine with it (well I’ve already made the choice to read it like you said 😉 ) hehe you’d be surprised how often things like that *actually happen* 😉 Yeah, I don’t mind if it’s relevant- I think there are ways of putting it in that are relevant (I think one of the maximum ride books did it- I want to think of a better eg but that’s all that’s coming to mind 😉 ) But random opinions from the author are jarring (a number of books last year, for instance, had throwaway lines about Trump and it was strangely surreal in YA romance I can tell you!)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Nel says:

    Lol have you actually read a book referencing the Cheeto already?? I can’t think of any other shoehorn politics in books are this moment but now you got me thinking about it and I’ll probably be looking for it in every book I read this year that was written after 2008 hahaha

    Liked by 3 people

  4. lucindablogs says:

    Hehe, like the “cool” best friend who randomly states factoids about the state of the environment/nation (and uses it as a reason for their depression), the classic “joining a debate team” scene (insert monologue) or the “recycling is awesome!” fashion show where the clothes are made out of bin bags?

    Yeah, annoys me too.

    Just out of interest (and not looking to start a massive debate) why are you avoiding feminist literature? There’s some really thought provoking stuff out there at the moment 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Hahaha yes, that’s unfortunately a thing.

      Hehe ooh that is quite the question 😉 many reasons, not being one for starters (and yes, I am a woman & an egalitarian & have thought it through 😉 ), the “following too much politics” thing (consequently not finding it thought provoking). I don’t mind if other people get something out of it, but it isn’t for me. I hope you don’t mind my honesty, I just don’t know how to answer that any other way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lucindablogs says:

        No that’s cool 😊. I suspect you might fall into my personal definition of what a feminist is, but if that’s not the way that you define yourself then that’s totally your choice 😊 Haha, of all the people I know who’ve told me they’ve thought about it and feminism isn’t for them, you’re the one person I actually believe has given it some serious thought 😉.

        I get what you mean about “too much politics”, it can wear you down. I spend a lot of time being angry. I’ve even had to stop watching question time because it winds me up so much! I’m also avoiding anything political on Facebook, mostly because a lot of the arguments are just over inflated outrage at sensationalist journalism. Aargh!

        Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          hehe I suspect you fall under my definition of egalitarian 😉 and thanks very much 😊

          Ah yes, it is very exhausting. Ha- I don’t watch QT anymore either- I realised it was just a couple of people parroting soundbites at each other, while the audience boos and hisses at the choice villain- if I wanted that kind of entertainment I’d go to a panto 😉 And gosh, yeah, FB has become so political.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum says:

    Another spot on post. The thing that gets to me most is the virtue signaling, strawmen arguments, and author-clearly-patting-themselves-on-the-back. Typically their characters also have that oh-so-holier-than-thou attitude that drives me nuts, because they will believe themselves to be paragons of tolerance and then turn right around and be judgmental towards a whole group of people. I read a book like that recently, and the irony is that the author probably thinks they are being clever when their own self-awareness is virtually non-existent!

    Liked by 4 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yes absolutely- it drives me nuts! (when it comes to strawmanning, there’s this wonderful thing called google that could clear that right up 😉 ) Oh gosh yes!! That happens way too often. But it’s a-okay, cos they have label-armour (like plot armour, but even shittier 😉 ). hahaha oh so true.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rachael Corbin says:

    Also, make sure you have the plot comes to a COMPLETE STAND-STILL in order to address your astute opinions. True, your views on global warming and Trump will ultimately have no relevance to the plot nor the characters, but it’s an excellent way to communicate to your readers how woke you are. If they complain about the fact that this is a total waste of time and just a way for you to be self-congratulatory, just call them an alt-right racist! 😀

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Nil says:

    Tbh, I don’t really mind reading about teens discussing politics. I think it makes them interesting characters. Even in real life, I find people who care about the going ons im the world more interesting than people who don’t care for anything outside their bubble. Saying that, it is super annoying when they’re shown to do that out of character.

    Liked by 3 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      That’s fair enough- as I said in my Sunday post, everyone’s entitled to read (and enjoy) what they like. Personally I think there’s room in the market for both kinds of books- the clearly political kind and then the option for people like me who get enough irl and would rather not have it in everything 😉 And yes, sometimes it’s just random.


  8. Editing Advantage says:

    It’s not just books…I’m tired of seeing Trump references in blogs about books… *is supposed to be discussing a novel but nonchalantly throws in a sentence like ‘and we know the world is crazy with an orange for US president’*

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Adrienne Morris says:

    We must be on the same wave length today…

    Great art is rarely agenda driven.

    Watching 12 Years a Slave was torture to me. The book written by the actual man who lived through the abduction and slavery wrote about his experience with awe-inspiring grace and complexity. The movie was a heavy handed series of torture scenes meant to make white Americans, most of whom had ancestors who came after slavery was abolished, feel guilt. Some of my relatives died to end slavery. Only 3 % of Americans had slaves back in the day and some of those owners were black and Native American, but never mind. at least in the movie every white person was pure evil except Brad Pitt (who I think produced the film).

    Good books and art capture complexity.

    Liked by 3 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehe yes I totally agree!!

      Ahh that is such a shame about the movie adaptation- honestly I read the book and thought it was an incredible story, very moving and beautifully written. I did plan to watch the movie afterwards, but don’t watch many movies in general, so never got round to it. It doesn’t surprise me that it was like that (I think I can go back to the fact I don’t watch many movies anymore, even though I used to love them)

      Yes for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Tim Vant says:

    What about obviously political shows such as “House of Cards” (american version probably based on a much better U.K. version probably based on a much better book were we talking about books?) There is no shoehorning required just outright political spoon-feeding. Wow great article…sarcasm? I know, I know, I’m a dirty troll.

    Liked by 2 people

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