Black Lives Matter: A Reading List

The Fire Next Time

by James Baldwin

Written by one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century, this chronicle of a childhood in Harlem helped inspire the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.




The Warmth of Other Suns

by Isabel Wilkerson

The first African American woman to win the Pulitzer prize in journalism, this book is her chronicle of the Great Migration of African Americans from the 1920’s through the 1970’s.





by Eve Ewing

An Afrofuturist poets’ look at the Chicago race riots of 1919 by local author, sociologist and visual artist Eve Ewing.


Chicago Race Riots July 1919

by Carl Sandburg

A contemporary account of the riots by a journalist and poet who reported on them for the Chicago Daily News.  Sandburg offered readers rare insights into the plight of black Americans, whose voices were seldom heard in white publications.



Redlined: a Memoir of Race, Change and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago

by Linda Gartz

The personal story of a white Garfield Park family who owned multiple properties in a “changing” neighborhood.  A window into how racist policies destroy families of all races.





South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation

by Natalie Y Moore

A local resident (and WBEZ’s South Side Bureau reporter) writes a conversational, readable chronicle of her neighborhood in all its beauty and complexity.




Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life

by Eric Klinenberg

I think Kirkus Review said it best:

“Want to cut down on crime? Install a community garden, increase public library funding, and start talking to your neighbors.”

A book about how we can all learn to live together again.


 Between the World and Me 

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The conceit of this brilliant essay is that it is letter from a black father to his son about what it means to be a black man in America.






The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

By Richard Rothstein

Institutional racism and its intersection with segregated housing is the focus of Rothstein’s bestseller.




How to be an Anitracist & Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America

by Ibram X Kendi

Taken together, these two books offer a historical record of how racism developed in America, and an attempt to identify an intellectual space that is beyond the questions of segregation or assimilation – Anti-Racism.


White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

By Robin Diangelo

‘White Fragility’ is a term coined by the author to describe the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.  The book attempts to look for more productive forms of engagement between races.



Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy

by Edward Ball

Demographic estimates suggest that roughly half of white Americans have ties to the Klan through their family histories.  Ball was just brave enough to write a memoir about his.  He even interviewed descendants of the victims of his Klan kinsman.




Live From Death Row

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Dispatches from Death Row, written beautifully and powerfully by a man that some believe is a political prisoner.  Abu-Jamal is no longer a death row inmate – his sentence was commuted to life in prison.




The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michelle Alexander

"We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”  That is the argument Michelle Alexander presents – and proves convincingly - in her essential book.





There is also the writing of black feminists, professors and activists like Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper, Morgan Jenkins, Eve L Ewing, Bell Hooks, Bryan Stevenson, and Angela Y Davis. 

 Both Obamas have written excellent books.

Then there is the poetry of Nate Marshall, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Britteney Black Rose Kapri, Angela Jackson, and Jose Olivarez.Or the great novels of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker.  Or the fantastical fiction of Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin. 

Also, anything by Cornel West is worth reading.

This list could be a lot longer, but these are just some ideas to get you started.


Books That Helped Define 2020

Below, a list of some books that got our attention in the year that was….


2020 Releases:

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

by Suzanne Collins

Return to Panem for the 25th Hunger Games – 50 years prior to the events in the original trilogy.



The Vanishing Half

by Brit Bennett

What is the definition of White in America?  And who decides? 




The Glass Hotel

by Emily St. John Mandel   *Signed Copies Available

Guilt, wealth, and an elaborate Ponzi scheme that fails – as they always eventually do.    



Shakespeare for Squirrels

by Christopher Moore

More of the Bard in farce, as only Christopher Moore can deliver him




The Mirror and the Light

by Hilary Mantel

Finally, the last chapter in the trilogy begun in 2009 with Wolf Hall.




Dearly: New Poems

by Margaret Atwood

In her first poetry collection in more than a decade, Atwood addresses love, loss, the passage of time, and zombies – among many other themes.



The Archer

by Paulo Coelho

A fable about an archery guru, written with Coelho’s usual mix of inspiration and grace.



One Life

by Megan Rapinoe   *Signed Copies Available

A call to arms – using her own life as inspiration – from the admired athlete and social activist.



Pappyland: A Story of Family Fine Bourbon and the Things That Last

by Wright Thompson

Authenticity, family legacy, and the one of the finest - and most sought after – whiskeys in the world. 



Ready Player Two

by Ernest Cline

The sequel to – you guessed it – Ready Player One.  We knew you were smart.





by J.K. Rowling

A warm, fast-paced, funny fairy tale of a fearsome monster, thrilling adventure, and hope against all odds.



Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

by Isabel Wilkerson

A humanitarian call to understand our own social hierarchy here in the United States, which we have ignored to the detriment of us all.



Promised Land

by Barack Obama

The only question is, can he catch up with his wife’s great sales numbers from her book?



Hood Feminism

by Mikki Kendall   *Signed Copies Available

Brilliant, fiery, and powerful, friend of the store Mikki Kendall advocates for the women that the Feminist movement consistently forgets about. 



Solutions and Other Problems

By Allie Brosh   *Signed Copies Available

Laughter through tears – my favorite emotion.  This book delivers it over and over again.  We all love Allie Brosh here.



Breaking Hate

by Christian Picciolini   *Signed Copies Available

Charismatic former white supremacist, local author, and friend of the store Christopher Picciolini provides a roadmap for those looking to leave behind the cycle of hatred and violence.