Diversifying Your Summer Reading List | New Hampshire Public Radio

Diversifying Your Summer Reading List

Jun 29, 2020

Summer is feeling a little different this year, and many readers are being intentional about bringing diversity to that stack of books to read. On the Annual Summer Book Show, our independent bookstore owners discuss some anti-racism resources for adults as well as younger ages, and we highlight authors who might have gone unnoticed without recent activism. What’s on your list to read for this summer?

Airdate: Tuesday, June 30, 2020


GUESTS:

 

Check out the New York Times list of books to read to educate yourself about anti-racism and race.

 

NPR published a diverse #SummerReading List for kids.

 

The Howe Library in Hanover has an extensive list of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) resources. Check your local library for their suggestions and book lists.

 

LeanIn.org has curated a list of anti-racism reading that includes resources that address the impact of racism on women at work.

Recommendations

List from Bookery Manchester:

Top Books for Anti-Racism Reading:

 

  • White Fragility

  • How To Be Antiracist

  • Me & White Supremacy

  • So You Want To Talk About Race

  • Stamped

  • Stamped from the Beginning

  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

  • All Are Welcome

  • Antiracist Baby

  • Between the World and Me

  • When They Call You a Terrorist

  • The Color of Law

Fiction

  • The Girl With the Louding Voice

  • Conjure Women

  • The Night Watchman

  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

  • Mexican Gothic

Memoir

  • Ordinary Girls

  • Sissy

  • Sigh, Gone

Non-Fiction

  • Wow, No Thank You - Essays by Samantha Irby

  • Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

  • Here For It:  Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays by R. Eric Thomas

 

  • The Pocket Change Collective books - a non-fiction, pocket-sized series by some of the world's leading changemakers.

  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

 

YA

  • Clap When You Land

  • All Boys Aren’t Blue

  • Felix Ever After

  • The State of Us

Top Summer

  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle

  • Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

  • Beach Read by Emily Henry

  • The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

  • Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains by Kerri Arsenault (coming Sept. 2020)

  • Piranesi -by Susanna Clarke (coming in Sept. 2020)

  • All Adults Here by Emma Straub

  • A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

  • Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

  • The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel (third in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy)

 

Manager Benjamin Pasley also recommended:

  • Zora Neale Hurston's Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Invisible Man by by Ralph Ellison

 

List from Gibson’s Bookstore:

 

Top Anti-Racism Reading:

  • Hood Feminism

  • Learning from the Germans

  • Warmth of Other Suns 

  • African-American and Latinx History of the US 

  • several works by James Baldwin, 

  • You Exist Too Much, a new memoir by Zaina Arafat

Top Summer Books:

  • These Women - Ivy Pochoda

  • Vanishing Sky - L. Annette Binder

  • Making of a Miracle - Mike Eruzione

  • Glass Hotel- Emily St. John Mandel

  • Vanishing Half - Brit Bennett

  • Utopia Avenue - David Mitchell (July 14)

  • The Lightness - Emily Temple

  • Friends and Strangers - J. Courtney Sullivan

 also kids’ books by Oge Mora and Elizabeth Acevedo

Lists from Water Street Bookstore:

Top Books for Anti-Racism Reading

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Fiction

  • Patsy: A Novel by Nicole Dennis-Benn

  • Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

  • The City We Became: A Novel by N. K. Jemison

  • The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

  • Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

  •  Sex and Vanity  by Kevin Kwan

  •  The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

  •  Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

Poetry

  • The Crazy Bunch by Willie Perdomo

  • Homie: Poems by Danez Smith

Memoir

  • The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

  • Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxanne Gay

Non-Fiction

  • Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America by Stacey Abrams

  • Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy by Sheryll Cashin

  • Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

  • This Will Be My Undoing: Living At the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins

Children’s Books and Resources

  • Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi with Illustrations by Ashley Lukashevsky

Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

  • King and the Dragon Flies by Kacen Callender

  • New Kid by Jerry Craft with Color by Jim Callahan

  • Miles Morales Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds

  • Ghost Boy by Jewell Parker Rhodes

  • Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

 Middle Grade and Young Adult Non-Fiction

  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning “Stamped from the Beginning” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi 

 

Listener Recommendations

Bill in Concord:  I am a SciFi fiend.  I cannot get enough of it, and I'm always on the lookout for new authors. SciFi authors tend to be white males.  I did find some great series by N. K. Jemisin - a woman of color and winner of numerous Hugo and Nebula awards - Broken Earth Series is particularly good. Ms. Jemisin brings an interesting perspective to her worlds, as both a woman and a woman of color.

Mark: I had to pause my reading of Jill Lepore's excellent "These Truths : A

History of the United States" because I was getting so depressed by therelentlessly negative history that we're not taught.  I will resume reading it after I finish reading Rutger Bregman's "Humankind : A Hopeful History", which has been giving me hope.  Next on my list is "My Grandmother's Hands" by Resmaa Menakem.

Alice recommends: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Historical account of the Great Migration. Eye opening account.

 

A listener recommends: Heavy by Kiese Laymon. A memoir by a black man who grew up in the Deep South. About obesity and overcoming adversity. Also, Once more to the Rodeo By Calvin Hennick. A local writer. A white father takes his biracial son on a road trip and struggles with how to help him learn about racism.

Kathy from Concord:  An incredible book I just read is The Street by Ann Petry. The black author wrote this in the 80’s. The story takes place in Harlem and follows a black woman, who is recently separated from her husband, and their young son. It is set in the 50’s and is incredibly powerful in telling the story of a black woman and child and the devastating choices and lack of choices for this woman.

Peg in Exeter: recommends Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian. Meshing the atrocities of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and the lack of awareness by modern Turkish citizens. I was struck by how the book's final chapters resonate with Black Lives Matter.  In fact, I took a line from the book - "Silence is the enemy of justice" - to our downtown racial inequality protests.

Jeanne recommends: "Waking Up White" by Debby Irving - A book that shares a WASP’s journey as she realizes her privilege growing up. Also painful discoveries on the journey about how blacks were disadvantaged legally and socially while her family reap the benefits of being white.  Our church is doing an adult series on this book right now as a book group.

Lynn in Sanbornton:  Gibson's (by mail order) was my source for Carolyn Chute's new issues-oriented but entertaining novel, The Recipe for Revolution.  Readers may remember her for her character-rich and stunning The Beans of Egypt, Maine.  Again, character-revelation is her forte. This big novel is laced with turmoil of conflicting viewpoints. At the same time, the characters who live communally in rural Maine settle into their normalcy (including group meals, haying, home-schooling, political rallying, deer dressing, windmills installations, wreath-making) that makes good escapism for now. I highly recommend this new Chute novel - I had Gibson's also mail it to my sister in Maine and a housebound friend here in Sanbornton. My friend in Sanbornton is black, and he appreciates the black voices expounding on racism. You'd think this book was written just last month, but its length belies that!

Terry from Stratham: recommends Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown. Great book! This is a great book about a young man growing up in Harlem in the 1950-1960’s.

Eleanor from Dover:  Here are my recommendations for fiction books for readers hoping to engage with issues of race in their summer reading.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - technically a YA novel, but a great book for older readers as well, and especially relevant, as it handles one teenager's experience after the death of one of her friends at the hands of police.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - a classic, about the ways that racism affects the self-image and self-worth of even young children and shapes the experiences and lives of so many people.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - not focused on America, but an incredibly powerful portrayal of the devastating impacts of race and colonialism on individuals, communities, and cultures.

 

Elizabeth, from Merrimack:  In the interest of exposing my three boys, ages 11, 9, and 5, to more diverse (and honest) historical narratives,  I picked up the book "Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans" by Kadir Nelson.  It's a story told from perspective of the grandson of a runaway slave that covers his kidnapping from Africa through the death of Martin Luther King Jr.  

The artwork is gorgeous and the story is heartbreaking.  My kids are DEVOURING it.  They're horrified by the treatment of African Americans and Native Americans.  It has given them a better understanding of their history and a sense of responsibility to try and make their world better. 

 

Ken emailed to say he’d be reading: The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton and Dark Mirror:  Edward Snowden and the Surveillance State.

 

Michele in Hudson: Written a while ago & for teens but I just discovered this & couldn't put it down.  "Freak the Mighty" by Rodman Philbrick is the story of two differently abled boys - one tiny & sickly but brilliant, the other strong & giant & compassionate but not so brilliant.  They team up to be unstoppable.  Tear jerker, heart warming, worth the read.

 

Debra mentions: I am also reading books that I already own and always meant to read.  The one that I am really being blown away right now by is: Harriet Tubman:The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton. What a remarkable woman.  I am learning a ton about Tubman and her time in history.  It is a thrilling read.

Scot in Hanover: Two black Science Fiction writers:  

Octavia Butler (The Parable of the Sower, many others).  I highly recommend her.

Samuel Delany (The Einstein Intersection, many others)

Karen emailed: Please mention Octavia Butler. Her work is hard to find since she is deceased but it’s well worth the effort.

 

Marte in Concord:  A YA  novel, one of several of this family, but this is the best:  Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

James: I highly recommend Kent State by Deborah Wiles. It is an exploration of the four days that led to the death of four Kent State students in 1970. The book is told in a dialog format with different characters speaking in different fonts. In the end Wiles connects the events of fifty years ago to the protests happening today. Very powerful.

Jon from Sanbornton: I’m re-reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States - from the arrival of Columbus to the early 2000s.  Gives context on how absolutely embedded our history is in supremacy of the powerful, its violent roots, its embedding in the laws and government systems.  The 1% is not a new phenomenon!  Outgroups include native Americans, enslaved blacks, women, poor whites – and all these groups have pushed back.  Founding fathers are not treated with reverence!

Emily: I wanted to recommend two of my recent reads that while not specifically (or only) about race, both deal with the subject in relation to other important social issues of our current time. Both are written by black women authors and feel important given our current social climate, as well as tangentially help to show just how pervasive systemic racism is and how it affects pretty much every aspect of life. The first is The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask. The second is One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson.

Karen from Concord: The Color of Water by James McBride... A black man’s tribute to his white mother. Great book about race identity and I’m just wondering about the place of mixed race authors and subjects. Of course Barack Obama’s books come to mind as well.

 

Mark in Canaan: Always relevant but read the second book. To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman ... Harper Lee. Back to back it makes for a good perspective today. Things are not always as we think they appear to be.

 

Recommended by callers:

 

  • 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about African American History by Jeffrey C. Stewart
  • Building A Movement to End The New Jim Crow by Daniel Hunter
  • N.K. Jemison - How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?
  • Stephen Kinzer: Overthrow, Poisoner in Chief
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • My Grandmother's Hands by Resma Menakem