N TOP TEN: BOOKS TO READ TO BETTER UNDERSTAND RACE IN AMERICA

Ten books to read right now to better understand Black history, racism, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It is key to note that no list of books on anti-racism is complete, because there is always more to learn. This is a place to start, or to deepen your understanding of Black experiences and racism in the world today. The following titles were available at Nantucket Book Partners when this was published, though many other important titles were backordered. Please see the note at the end of the list for more books to read once they are back in stock at Nantucket Book Partners or your local bookstore.

1. Survival Math by Mitchell S. Jackson

In his memoir Survival Math, award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson explores the roles that violence, masculinity, addiction, sex work, race, and class played throughout his youth in Portland, Oregon. Available to purchase here.

 

2. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult examines race, privilege, and power through her fictional narrative of an African American nurse who disobeys hospital orders to perform CPR on the child of two white supremacists. Available to purchase here.

 

3. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo helps readers engage in an honest dialogue about racism and white supremacy in modern America, navigating issues from police brutality to common microaggressions, mass incarceration to “model minorities,” and more.  Available to purchase here.

 

4. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

The 2019 recipient of the Booker Prize, Bernadine Evaristo interweaves humor, honesty, and hope as she celebrates the stories and struggles of twelve Black British women across several decades. Available to purchase here.

 

5. Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?  by Beverly Daniel Tatum

In her bestselling book, Beverly Daniel Tatum analyzes the psychology of racism and suggests that hosting candid conversations about the intersection of race and identity is essential to facilitating communication across existing divides. Available to purchase here.

 

6. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Published in June 2020, Brit Bennett’s timely novel is a story about twin sisters, both raised in a southern Black community, who choose to pursue two distinct identities—one white, one black. In The Vanishing Half, Bennett urges readers to understand the influence of racism in communities and individuals, and the role of the past in shaping the next generation. Available to purchase here.

 

7. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved tells the powerful tale of a Black woman struggling to escape the horrors of her past, eighteen years after finding freedom in Ohio. Beloved is widely accepted as perhaps one of the best pieces of American literature in recent history. Available to purchase here.

 

8. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

The Color of Law uncovers America’s troubling history of systematically imposing racial segregation in residential communities nationwide. Available to purchase here.

 

9. America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis

Theologian and political activist Jim Wallis explores America’s deep-rooted foundations in racism, calling on faith communities and individuals to bridge the gap between modern society and racial justice. Available to purchase here.

 

10. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Now a major motion picture, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy is a powerful call for reform within the criminal justice system. Stevenson tells the true story of one of his first defense cases—Walter McMillian, a young Black man sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit—and his experiences within the justice system that inspired the Equal Justice Initiative. Available to purchase here.

 

Other important works to add to your reading list: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele. Keep an eye on Nantucket Book Partners’ website as these titles begin to recirculate.

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