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2018 Black History Month Reads

Updated book recommendations for Black History Month, based on the past year’s new titles.Use the links to request an item or place a hold, and don’t forget to check out previous years’ picks for non-fiction, literary, and children’s titles.

Non-Fiction

James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
Baldwin’s now-canonical first book of nonfiction, originally published in 1955, collects ten essays tackling issues of race in America and Europe.
A woman’s journey from tragedy, to prison, to recovery, to recognition as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement.
From the author of Between the World and Me, a collection of essays originally published in The Atlantic magazine over the course of the Obama administration. Selections include “The Case for Reparations” and “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” Also available as an audiobook.
Public intellectual and ordained minister Michael Eric Dyson urges whites to awaken to black suffering.
A sweeping history that seeks to change our understanding of the causes and extent of racist thinking.
A lavishly illustrated collection about America’s food culture, showcasing one of the world’s largest private collections of African American cookbooks. Winner of numerous awards, including the James Beard Foundation Book Award, the 2016 Art of Eating Prize, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Timothy B. Tyson, The Blood of Emmett Till
An event that launched the civil rights movement–the 1955 lynching of a fourteen-year-old black boy named Emmett Till–reexamined with never-before-heard accounts from those involved and recovered court transcripts from the trial.
A history of the modern American metropolis arguing that legalized segregation–laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments–promoted discriminatory housing patterns that continue to this day.

 

Fiction, Literature, and Biography
This intimate portrait of a family in the fictional town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi examines the power and limitations of family bonds and the difficult truths of American history.Winner of the 2017 National Book Award, among many others.
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
Cora and Caesar make a bid for freedom from their Georgia plantations by following the Underground Railroad–which, in the novel, is an actual subway. Winner of numerous awards, including the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the 2016 National Book Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Also available as an audiobook.
Roxane Gay, Hunger
Gay, known as a champion for gay and Black women, uses her emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring shared anxieties over weight, pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.
Octavia Butler, Kindred
Graphic novel adaptation of the classic 1979 time-travel and slave narrative novel.
Graphic biographical treatment of the famed folklorist and novelist (Hurston’s best-known work is Their Eyes Were Watching God).
Brit Bennett, The Mothers
Set in contemporary Southern California, the novel’s story centers on a young woman, a family secret, and themes of community, love, and ambition.
Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars
With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, this sci-fi tinged poetry collection imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. Smith is the current U.S. Poet Laureate.
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light
Memoir exploring the poet’s coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the bond between a mother and daughter.
A poetry collection contemplating police brutality, violence, and other assaults on the black male body in America, along with the resulting culture of grief and resistance.

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