6 Books for Your Post-Charlottesville TBR

We've been horrified by the recurring acts of violence that keep happening in this country. Hate is not ever OK. As a result, we decided to compile a list of books that challenge the pervading narratives in American society. Hopefully, these books will help us all pay better attention to the world and the people in it. And, as Rebecca Solnit puts it, "this paying attention is the foundational act of empathy, of listening, of imagining experiences other than one's own, of getting out of the boundaries of one's own experience."  - A & K


Graywolf Press, 2014

Graywolf Press, 2014

Citizen: An American Lyric  by Claudia Rankine

I first heard of this book when it was nominated for the National Book Award and then I saw it everywhere. Though I have not read it yet, I have read Rankine's essay in The Fire This Time. Part poetry, part criticism, this book outlines the microagressions that Rankine has experienced herself and has seen played out on a national level. - A


Bloomsbury, 2013

Bloomsbury, 2013

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men We Reaped broke my heart into an uncountable number of pieces. In her memoir, Jesmyn Ward recalls her childhood in the South with alternating chapters telling the stories of five men whose lives were cut short—including her brother Joshua's. Ward portrays, in uncomfortable detail, what it means to be black and poor in the South. Like in her novel Salvage the Bones, the writing uses a gritty but beautiful style. I will not forget this heart-rending book anytime soon. - K


Scribner, 2016

Scribner, 2016

The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward

When this book came out last summer, I was privileged to attend a reading with Jeremiah Brown, Carol Anderson, Kevin Young, and Jesmyn Ward. Long story short, it was a watershed moment in my life. I didn't get the chance to read the book until this year and, in a way, I'm glad I waited. These essays about race and what its like to live in America as a person of color are important and timely. - A


Knopf, 2016

Knopf, 2016

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

I love a good family saga. Two sisters are separated in the mid 1700s. One sister stays in her native Fanteland while the other is shipped to America as a slave. We follow their descendants through the decades moving towards the heartbreaking conclusion. Gyasi was one of the National Book Foundation's 5 under 35 in 2016. And so well deserved. What a phenomenal debut. - K


Doubleday, 2016

Doubleday, 2016

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora, the protagonist, is one of my all-time favorite characters in a book. This is a novel about slavery from the perspective of a slave. It's a gritty and realistic look at what being a slave was like when you had to live it out--and it's not pretty. - A


Avalon Publishing Group, 2016

Avalon Publishing Group, 2016

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

The first time I heard about this book, Stamped from the Beginning had just won the National Book Award. Recently a podcast from the New York Public Library featured a discussion with the author Ibram X Kendi, who talked about some of the highlights from the book. The entire book chronicles the history of racist ideas in America. Each chapter features a prominent figure in history and how they influenced racist ideas, for better or worse. Women are featured throughout the book, and as one of the premier voices on the topic, Stamped from the Beginning just got bumped up to the top of my TBR. - K


Reading Women

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