In the last week we’ve seen an explosion of orders for books about race and activism. We’re selling out of books by Black authors -- and so are our distributors. Printers are rushing reprints, and we’ll get these books into your hands as quickly as we can, but we want to do everything we can to make sure you have access to information as quickly as possible.
To that end we thought we’d remind you that if you like audiobooks, you can download these books from Libro.fm -- while still supporting the local indie of your choice -- and start listening right now.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, these are just books I’ve been struggling to get copies of these last few days, and they’re an excellent place to start.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
This will answer all the questions about race that you don't know how to ask. Oluo is a wonderful writer -- she is clear, concise, and precise in explaining concepts that many Americans struggle to grasp. Plus, she's a Seattle local!
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a letter from the author to his son, about the history of this country and the way that history follows and affects Black bodies. Toni Morrison said of this book, “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’s journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory.” Plus, Coates reads the audiobook himself.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Once you understand that racism exists, what’s next? How do we approach building something better? And in a country where most people know that racism is wrong, how is racism still so prevalent? This book aims to answer those questions, from the simplest things we can do, to the visionary. As a bonus Kendi reads the book himself.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Disclaimer, Robin DiAngelo is not Black, but I'm including this book because it's like a tour of the ways White people try to deflect issues of racism. From anger and guilt, to being argumentative or being silent, White fragility serves only to maintain White supremacy. This book explains what White fragility looks like, and how to dismantle it so that we can approach issues of race more constructively.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
This collection of essays shows the many ways that modern feminism has served the needs of only a select group of women, shines a light on the women modern feminism has failed -- and invites us to make feminism truly intersectional. Racism is a feminist issue.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
James Baldwin gave voice to the civil rights movement in the early days with this slim, searing book. It is two essays -- the first a letter to his nephew on the one hundredth anniversary of the emancipation, which discusses the way racism is baked into the history of America. In 1963 Baldwin wrote, “You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.” The second is about the relationship between race and religion. It’s a 2 ½ hour listen, and it’s one of our most important pieces of American literature.
The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward
This is a collection of essays and poems by amazing Black writers, that responds to James Baldwin’s work almost sixty years later, considering the ways that his words still resonate, and raising their own questions about race in the US. Any of Jesmyn Ward’s books could be on this list -- I added this one because it’s the one I was searching for yesterday, but Men We Reaped, a memoir about men she’s lost because of who they were and where they were from, is also necessary reading.
They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery travelled to the most heavily policed places in the US and conducted hundreds of interviews with activists, and the families of victims of police brutality to understand what the loss of one life means to the rest of the nation. This is one year of interviews that reflects the entire history of this country, and is a triumph of reporting.
Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
This one’s for the kids -- Jason Reynolds adapts Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped From the Beginning for teen readers, guiding young people through history in a way that many classrooms don’t. If you’ve said at any point in the last week “I can’t believe this is happening,” read this book. It will show you exactly how we got here. This is ideal for teens because it’s very engaging -- which means it’s also ideal for anyone unfamiliar with reading nonfiction.
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
This book is designed to walk White readers through the intricacies of their privilege. There’s no space for hedging in this book: either you can walk into any salon for a haircut or you can’t. Either you fear for your life when you’re pulled over by a cop, or you don’t. The first step in dismantling a system that holds up Whiteness is seeing how it does so, and this book will help White readers see the daily ways the system benefits them.
Again, this is not a comprehensive list. If you have recommendations, tell us about them in the comments, or tweet us @thirdplacebooks. Stay safe out there everyone, keep seeking knowledge, and demanding change -- and don't forget to support Black-owned bookstores and businesses!