This week’s Top 10 Tuesday was originally about “Books I’ve Added to My TBR and Forgotten Why,” but I felt it was more important to talk about books I’ve purposely and purposefully added to or moved to the top of my TBR list over the last week to start the process of learning more about the history of racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. I know I need to be better about engaging in this important work in order to be an anti-racist ally in my community.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
This book has been on my TBR since it came out a decade ago. I was never into history growing up, but I remember being appalled when we learned about Emmett Till and Jim Crow laws in my English I honors class. I am ashamed I still haven’t picked this one up, but the argument Alexander makes in this book is that we have just redesigned the racial caste system in America and focuses on the shortcomings of the U.S. criminal justice system and its disproportionate targeting of Black men.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Another book I added to my TBR a decade ago and still haven’t picked up. Wilkerson’s book chronicles the migration of six million black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life and how this migration changed the landscape of the U.S. I’ve heard the writing is beautiful, and I’ve always been drawn to this story.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
I’ve heard so many things about this book in the last week, but the most compelling reason I’ve added it to my list is that it’s accessible and straightforward in its discussion of issues. According to the blurb, issues covered are privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, microagressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. One of my friends read this this week and highly recommended it, so I ordered a copy.
Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped is a young adult adaptation of Kendi’s book Stamped from the Beginning. I plan on reading both of these books, but I want to read the YA version to consider it for adoption in my classroom next school year.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Tatum’s book is a psychological exploration of race and how race informs identity. I know I’ve never been comfortable discussing race because I was taught that the color of your skin doesn’t matter, but I know that is problematic. I have a degree in psychology, but I’ve never explored the psychological aspects of race, and I think it would be smart to approach this conversation with that background in mind.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
I loved The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead so much, and I have heard even better things about The Nickel Boys. Whitehead’s historical fiction novel about two Black teens living in the Jim Crow South who get sent to the Nickel Academy after getting into trouble and the repercussions that affect them for decades (based on the Dozier School for Boys, an actual reform school in Florida). This one is short, but I’ve heard it’s incredibly impactful.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a magical realism, alternate history speculative fiction novel from one of my favorite authors. It’s a quest novel, and I’ve heard the writing described as lyrical. I’ve also heard mixed reviews on this one, but it’s still near the top of my list to get to this summer. The only thing I know about this book is that the protagonist is a young boy whose mother is sold into slavery. I usually prefer to enter my fiction blindly, without knowing too much about the plot.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
This book is described as an epoch road trip novel that draws on Morrison, Faulkner, The Odyssey, and the Old Testament. I have only ever read excerpts of this one, but I know I want to read the entire thing before school starts in August (especially since I have to teach The Odyssey; I’m trying to find ways to bring more diversity into my mandated curriculum this year).
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This one was on my TBR last summer, but I put it off because of its length. I’ve only heard amazing things, and I know it’s an epic love story that takes place both before and after 9/11. I’ve heard the characterization in this novel is flawless.
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
I have only ever read Toni Morrison’s nonfiction and Beloved. I know, I must remedy this ASAP.
I own all of the fiction options above and have ordered all of the nonfiction options I didn’t already own. Narrowing this list down to only ten was incredibly difficult. What books by Black authors have you added to your TBR or loved recently that you think I should pick up?
Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Be sure to check out her weekly post to find other participants and upcoming Top Ten Tuesday topics.