Thought-provoking fiction and nonfiction books to read or listen to, in print and online for teens and adults.
Adult nonfiction book, and e-book. “If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight." -- Amazon.com. Age: 13+
Adult nonfiction book. Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer. Part friendship diary, part bright elegy, part war cry, Homie is the exuberant new book written for Danez and for Danez’s friends and for you and for yours. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. How do you learn to be a black man in America? For young black men today, it means coming of age during the presidency of Barack Obama. It means witnessing the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, and too many more. It means celebrating powerful moments of black self-determination for LeBron James, Dave Chappelle, and Frank Ocean. In Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, Mychal Denzel Smith chronicles his own personal and political education during these tumultuous years, describing his efforts to come into his own in a world that denied his humanity. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. This celebration of Black resistance, from protests to art to sermons to joy, offers a blueprint for the fight for freedom and justice -- and ideas for how each of us can contribute. Many of us are facing unprecedented attacks on our democracy, our privacy, and our hard-won civil rights. If you're Black in the US, this is not new. As Colorlines editors Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin show, Black Americans subvert and resist life-threatening forces as a matter of course. In these pages, leading organizers, artists, journalists, comedians, and filmmakers offer wisdom on how they fight White supremacy. It's a must-read for anyone new to resistance work, and for the next generation of leaders building a better future. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. "How the automobile fundamentally changed African American life--the true history beyond the Best Picture-winning movie. The ultimate symbol of independence and possibility, the automobile has shaped this country from the moment the first Model T rolled off Henry Ford's assembly line. Yet cars have always held distinct importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the many dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. Gretchen Sorin recovers a forgotten history of black motorists, and recounts their creation of a parallel, unseen world of travel guides, black only hotels, and informal communications networks that kept black drivers safe. At the heart of this story is Victor and Alma Green's famous Green Book, begun in 1936, which made possible that most basic American right, the family vacation, and encouraged a new method of resisting oppression. Enlivened by Sorin's personal history, Driving While Black opens an entirely new view onto the African American experience, and shows why travel was so central to the Civil Rights movement."-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. The executive director of a social advocacy group that has helped relieve condemned prisoners explains why justice and mercy must go hand-in-hand through the story of Walter McMillian, a man condemned to death row for a murder he didn't commit. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. Adapted for young adults. Details the author's personal experience, challenges, and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate to find justice for America's most marginalized people. Age: 13+
Adult nonfiction book, and audiobook on cd. The best-selling author of The Divide presents an exploration into the roots and aftermath of the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the police in 2014, sharing insights into the ensuing nationwide series of protests that reinforced the "Black Lives Matter" movement and transformed American politics. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction. “Activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation."--Front flap. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, has shuttered the movement firmly in the past, whitewashed the forces that stood in its way, and diminished its scope. And it is used perniciously in our own times to chastise present-day movements and obscure contemporary injustice. In A More Beautiful and Terrible History award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction. The author, a two-term U.S. poet laureate, uses verse to give witness to unsung icons such as working class African American women. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. When Mikaila Ulmer was four, she was stung by a bee--twice in one week. She was terrified of going outside, so her parents encouraged her to learn more about bees so she wouldn't be afraid. It worked. Mikaila didn't just learn what an important role bees play in our ecosystem, but she also learned bees are endangered, and set out to save them. She started by selling cups of lemonade in front of her house and donating the small proceeds to organizations dedicated to bee conservation. When she realized the more lemonade she sold, the more bees she could help, Me & the Bees Lemonade was born. Now she sells her lemonade across the country. From meetings with Fortune 500 CEOs, to securing a deal on Shark Tank, to even visiting the Obama White House, Mikaila's lemonade and passion for bee conservation have taken her far. In Bee Fearless, part memoir, part business guide, Mikaila--now fifteen--shares her personal journey and special brand of mindful entrepreneurship and offers helpful tips and guidance for young readers interested in pursuing their own ventures, instilling in them the bee-lief that they can bee fearless and achieve their dreams too. Age: 10-14.
Adult nonfiction book. “National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin's 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time. The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future.“ -- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and audiobook on cd. In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, and e-book. “Our Black Sons Matter is a powerful collection of original essays, letters, and poems that addresses both the deep joys and the very real challenges of raising black boys today. From Trayvon Martin to Tamir Rice, the list of young black men who have suffered racial violence continues to grow. Young black people also deal with profound stereotypes and structural barriers. And yet, young black men are often paradoxically revered as icons of cultural cool. Our Black Sons Matter features contributions from women across the racial spectrum who are raising or have raised black sons--whether biologically their sons or not. The book courageously addresses painful trauma, challenges assumptions, and offers insights and hope through the deep bonds between mothers and their children. Both a collective testimony and a collective love letter, Our Black Sons Matter sends the message that black lives matter and speaks with the universal love of all mothers who fear for the lives of their children."--Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book. The co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com presents a provocative and humorous memoir-in-essays that explores the direct impact of racism on his life, the shifting definition of black male identity, and the ongoing realities of white supremacy. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction e-audiobook. "A Call to Conscience" is a milestone collection of Dr. King's most influential and best-known speeches. Compiled by Stanford historian Dr. Clayborne Carson, director of the King Papers Project, and by contributing editor Kris Shepard, this volume takes you behind the scenes on an astonishing historical journey -- from the small, crowded church in Montgomery, Alabama, where "The birth of a new nation" ignited the modern civil rights movement; to the center of the nation's capital, where "I have a dream" echoed through a nation's conscience; to the Mason Temple in Memphis, where over ten thousand people heard Dr. King give his last, transcendent speech, "I've been to the mountaintop," the night before his assassination. Age: Adult
Child fiction book and large print, e-book, and audiobook on cd. In the summer of 1988, twelve-year-old Chuck Bell is sent to stay with his grandparents, where he discovers jazz and basketball and learns more about his family's past. Age: 11+
YA fiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, e-audiobook. Seventeen-year-old Blade endeavors to resolve painful issues from his past to navigate the challenges of his former rockstar father's addictions, scathing tabloid rumors, and a protected secret that threatens his own identity. Age: 14+
YA fiction book, e-book, e-audiobook. “Noah and his best friend Walt want to become cool, make the baseball team, and win over Sam, the girl Noah has loved for years. When Noah finds old love letters, Walt hatches a plan to woo Sam. But as Noah's love life and Walt's baseball career begin, the letters alter everything."-- Provided by publisher. Age: 14+
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. "A civil-rights lawyer's disturbing view of why young black men make up the majority of the more than two million people now in America's prisons. In this explosive debut, Alexander (Law/Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity) argues that the imprisonment of unusually large numbers of young blacks and Latinos--most harshly sentenced for possession or sale of illegal drugs, mainly marijuana--constitutes "a stunningly comprehensive and well-designed system of racialized social control." --from Kirkus Reviews Age: Adult.
Adult fiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, and e-audiobook. Describes a day in the life of several members of a Harlem fundamentalist church. The saga of three generations of people is related through flashbacks. Age: 15+
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. At once a powerful evocation of his early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice to both the individual and the body politic, James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil rights movement with his eloquent manifesto. The Fire Next Time stands as one of the essential works of our literature. Age: 15+
YA fiction book, and e-audiobook. Savannah Riddle feels suffocated by her life as the daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington, D.C., until she meets a working-class girl named Nella who introduces her to the suffragette and socialist movements and to her politically active cousin Lloyd. Age: 13+
Adult nonfiction book, and e-audiobook. Discusses the persisting racial inequality in the United States and challenges color-blinding thinking. Age: Adult.
YA fiction book, and audiobook on cd. Felix Love, a transgender seventeen-year-old, attempts to get revenge by catfishing his anonymous bully, but lands in a quasi-love triangle with his former enemy and his best friend. Age: 14+
Adult fiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. In an alternate history novel, Lincoln escapes assassination by John Wilkes Booth only to face impeachment, and Abigail Canner, a young black woman involved in his defense, helps investigate the murder of the president's counsel. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, e-audiobook, and large print. In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Age: 15+
Adult fiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, e-audiobook, and large print. "Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage--and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child--but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he's ever known."-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, and e-audiobook. “We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.” But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period—and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, and audiobook on cd. So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting. Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality. In this groundbreaking and timely book, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility.--Amazon.com Age: Adult.
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. When first published in 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk struck like a thunderclap, quickly establishing itself as a work that wholly redefined the history of the black experience in America, introducing the now famous "problem of the color line." In decades since, its stature has only grown, and today it ranks as one of the most influential and resonant works in the history of American thought. This centennial edition contains a landmark Introduction by historian David Levering Lewis that brilliantly demonstrates how The Souls of Black Folk remains indispensable not only to an understanding of the history of race and democracy in America but to considerations of the future of racial and cultural comity in the twenty-first century. Age: Adult
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and e-audiobook. You don't have to be racist to be biased. Unconscious bias can be at work without our realizing it, and even when we genuinely wish to treat all people equally, ingrained stereotypes can infect our visual perception, attention, memory, and behavior. This has an impact on education, employment, housing, and criminal justice. In Biased, with a perspective that is at once scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Jennifer Eberhardt offers us insights into the dilemma and a path forward. Age: Adult.