The most recommended BLM books (Black Lives Matter )

Who picked these books? Meet our 36 experts.

36 authors created a book list connected to Black Lives Matter, and here are their favorite Black Lives Matter books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of Black Lives Matter book?


Monsters in America

By W. Scott Poole,

Book cover of Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting

Michael E. Heyes Author Of Margaret's Monsters: Women, Identity, and the Life of St. Margaret in Medieval England

From the list on understanding monsters.

Who am I?

What could possibly captivate the mind more than monsters? As a kid, I eagerly consumed books from authors like R.L. Stine, Stephen King, and HP Lovecraft. I watched George Romero, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter, and played games like Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire: The Masquerade, and The Call of Cthulhu. When I discovered monster studies in my PhD years—a way to read monsters as cultural productions that tell us something about the people that create them—I was hooked. Ever since, I get to continue reading my favorite books, watching my favorite movies, and playing my favorite games. It’s just that now someone’s paying me to do it.

Michael's book list on understanding monsters

Why did Michael love this book?

Ok, you’ve read Cohen and Monsters and the Monstrous. This monster stuff is getting pretty good, and you might be able to feel around the edges a bit. How does it apply to contemporary America which “no longer believes in monsters?” This is where Poole’s book comes in. Poole walks through monstrosity in the US from Columbus’ first steps to just shy of 2020. All the juicy topics that Americans have used monsters for—sex, race, and politics—emerge in this monstrous tour de force of US history. This is one of the first books I recommend to my students.

By W. Scott Poole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monsters in America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Monsters arrived in 2011aand now they are back. Not only do they continue to live in our midst, but, as historian Scott Poole shows, these monsters are an important part of our pastaa hideous obsession America cannot seem to escape. Poole's central argument in Monsters in America is that monster tales intertwine with America's troubled history of racism, politics, class struggle, and gender inequality. The second edition of Monsters leads readers deeper into America's tangled past to show how monsters continue to haunt contemporary American ideology. By adding new discussions of the American West, Poole focuses intently on the Native…

From the Ashes of History

By Adam B. Lerner,

Book cover of From the Ashes of History: Collective Trauma and the Making of International Politics

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab

From Raphael's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Doer Scholar Teacher Peace and human rights activist

Raphael's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Raphael love this book?

This is the best book in international relations that I read this year. It raises an important contribution to the literature.

In this thoughtful book, Lerner provides a new understanding and application of the "narrative identity approach" in International Relations. Combining theory with applications, Lerner studied the long-term impacts of colonialism on Indian state-building, the Holocaust in Israeli security discourses, and the role of PTSD in reimaging US foreign policy.

The book is wide-ranging, and it uncovers new grounds. It is learned and original, combining an insightful theoretical framework with fascinating case studies. To my mind, Lerner makes a compelling case for viewing historical events through a new perspective. The theoretical framework he offers is interesting and relevant, the analysis is comprehensive and thorough, and the book is clear and coherent. I highly recommend it. 

The Hedley Bull Prize in International Relations jury, of which I was a member, has…

By Adam B. Lerner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Ashes of History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In recent years, calls for reparations and restorative justice, alongside the rise of populist grievance politics, have demonstrated the stubborn resilience of traumatic memory. From the transnational Black Lives Matter movement's calls for reckoning with the legacy of slavery and racial oppression, to continued efforts to secure recognition of the Armenian genocide or Imperial Japan's human rights abuses, international politics is replete with examples of past violence reasserting itself in the present. But how should scholars understand trauma's long-term impacts? Why do some traumas lie dormant for generations, only to surface anew in pivotal moments? And how does trauma scale…

Book cover of We Can't Talk about That at Work! How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics

Barbara B. Adams PsyD Author Of Women, Minorities, and Other Extraordinary People: The New Path for Workforce Diversity

From the list on workforce diversity that won’t piss you off.

Who am I?

I don’t have a passion for the diversity, equity, and inclusion topic. I have an obligation. When I didn’t see or understand the horrific injustice of systemic oppression, I couldn’t do anything about it. Now that I see it, I cannot ignore it. I’ve become an expert through my work in organizational development. I work with technology, healthcare, financial services and educational services clients around the globe, and in 2016 I founded GAR (Gender, Age, Race) Diversity Consulting. Prior to GAR, I was a director in the National Diversity and Inclusion office at Kaiser Permanente, and I worked for many years as a global management and technology consultant with American Management Systems, Inc (now CGI). 

Barbara's book list on workforce diversity that won’t piss you off

Why did Barbara love this book?

In the age of Black Lives Matter, and the racial, political, and structural tensions that permeate society, Mary-Frances Winters has written a gift of a book that helps us understand why polarization occurs and how to manage conversations about topics often seen as taboo. She is nothing short of brilliant in explaining how culture embeds itself in people’s perceptions and beliefs. This small yet powerful book provides everything leaders and managers need to learn to create spaces of safety and facilitate dialogue that is meaningful, insightful, and often profound. This is the book we have been waiting for!

By Mary-Frances Winters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Can't Talk about That at Work! How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Instead of shutting down any mention of taboo topics, Mary-Frances Winters shows how to structure intentional conversations about them, so people can safely confront biases and stereotypes and create stronger, more inclusive organizations.

Politics, religion, race - we can't talk about topics like these at work, right? But in fact, these conversations are happening all the time, either in real life or virtually via social media. And if they aren't handled effectively, they can become more polarizing and divisive, impacting productivity, engagement, retention, teamwork, and even employees' sense of safety in the workplace. But you can turn that around and…

Book cover of Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being

Badia Ahad-Legardy Author Of Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture

From the list on inspiring good feelings.

Who am I?

As a professor of African American literature and culture, I’ve spent my career writing, reading, teaching, talking and thinking about black interiority: feelings, emotions, memory, affect. My publications and lectures focus mostly on the creative and diverse ways that black people have created spaces of pleasure and possibility, even in the most dire times and under extremely difficult conditions. I’ve been told that I’m a natural optimist, so it is fitting that my most recent book and this recommendation list is all about the intentional and creative ways that people cultivate joy and a sense of possibility for themselves and others.

Badia's book list on inspiring good feelings

Why did Badia love this book?

Every now and then I come across a book that I wish I had written, and Quashie’s Black Aliveness is among them. One of the motivating premises of Afro-Nostalgia is the sense that so much of black life is narrated through a trauma, oppression, and death. Black Aliveness operates from a similar premise and is centrally concerned with the “quality of aliveness” in African American poetry and literature. Here is one of my favorite passages in the book: “As necessary as ‘Black Lives Matter’ has proven to be, so efficient and beautiful a truth-claim, its necessity disorients me…I want a black world where matter of mattering matters indisputably, where black mattering is beyond expression.”

By Kevin Quashie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being, Kevin Quashie imagines a Black world in which one encounters Black being as it is rather than only as it exists in the shadow of anti-Black violence. As such, he makes a case for Black aliveness even in the face of the persistence of death in Black life and Black study. Centrally, Quashie theorizes aliveness through the aesthetics of poetry, reading poetic inhabitance in Black feminist literary texts by Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, and Evie Shockley, among others, showing how their philosophical and creative thinking constitutes worldmaking. This…

White Fragility

By Robin Diangelo,

Book cover of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism

Amy Carroll Author Of The Ego Tango

From the list on kickass communication.

Who am I?

I'm passionate about helping people to better manage their internal state so they can control their external behaviors under high-pressure situations. My expertise is on the following topics found in the books I've chosen: power/status, influence, leadership presence, setting boundaries, speaking clearly & concisely, emotional mastery, improvisation, compassion, and empathy for self and others. As a communication coach and trainer, I work with clients to neutralize power dynamics for more positive exchange, leaving both parties feeling safe and respected. 

Amy's book list on kickass communication

Why did Amy love this book?

Improving our capacity to communicate also means putting our ego to the side so that we can receive messages, even when the packaging is not so pretty!  This book expanded my ability to accept difficult messages. In the past, I’ve made a request to people close to me, "if you want to tell me something difficult to hear, please package the message respectfully." Since reading this book, when I hear something I perceive to be hostile or accusing, my job is to work on not taking it personally, because getting the message is more important than the packaging!

By Robin Diangelo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked White Fragility as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The International Bestseller

'With clarity and compassion, DiAngelo allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to "bad people." In doing so, she moves our national discussions forward. This is a necessary book for all people invested in societal change' Claudia Rankine

Anger. Fear. Guilt. Denial. Silence. These are the ways in which ordinary white people react when it is pointed out to them that they have done or said something that has - unintentionally - caused racial offence or hurt. After, all, a racist is the worst thing a person can be, right? But these reactions only…

Anti-Racist Ally

By Sophie Williams,

Book cover of Anti-Racist Ally: An Introduction to Activism and Action

Tanja Hester Author Of Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change

From the list on to equip you to fight for change.

Who am I?

I have spent 20+ years working on the question of how social and environmental change happens, from my long-time career in progressive politics to my current work writing about the most pressing issues of our time through an economic lens, and occasionally talking about them on my podcast, also called Wallet Activism. So I know well how intimidating it can feel to get involved, whether it’s worrying your voice isn’t needed (trust me, it is!) or not knowing the nuts and bolts of where to start. But we have so much power when we act collectively, and I want you to feel personally invited to take action.

Tanja's book list on to equip you to fight for change

Why did Tanja love this book?

There are a bunch of great anti-racism books out there, but few are all about taking action, as Sophie’s book is. Because I’m guessing if you’ve made it this far into my recommendation list, you are already familiar with anti-racism and many of the systemic problems we must address, and just want someone to point you in the right direction to do the work. This is a great book for that! It’s short but packed with practical tips.

By Sophie Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anti-Racist Ally as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Gives you the information you need to begin, or continue, your understanding of what it means to be a true anti-racist ally' Pippa Vosper

Do you want to be an anti-racist ally?

This punchy, pocket-sized guide shows you how, whether you're using your voice for the first time, or are looking for ways to keep the momentum and make long lasting change.

Sophie Williams' no-holds-barred posts about racism and Black Lives Matter on @officialmillennialblack have taken the online world by storm. Sharp, simple and insightful, they get to the heart of anti-racist principles and show us all how to truly…

James Baldwin

By James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison

Book cover of James Baldwin: Collected Essays

Kara Cooney Author Of When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

From the list on power and the powerless.

Who am I?

I'm a specialist of ancient Egyptian social history, who against the better judgment of (practically all) her colleagues uses the ancient past to make the present understandable. If we don’t fetishize the ancient Egyptians as separate and magical, they have something to teach us, whispering to us from the past through papyri, temples, and archaeological sites. After all, Egyptian history is 3000 years plus in its time span, an astounding data set of a people using same approximate language, government system, religion, and culture. Some of us look hungrily to replicate that kind of lasting and divine power. I am obsessed with power—how it works, why we are helpless to it, and who gets exploited by it. The ancient Egyptian kings effectively packaged their power not only as necessary, but as moral and good, ancient marketing that continues to work on our minds.

Kara's book list on power and the powerless

Why did Kara love this book?

I am recommending this book because one can’t understand power without being beholden to it systemically and repeatedly, all the while dissecting power’s discontents. Baldwin’s words may seem to strike only to America’s core, but every marginalized person will find truth in them. As an Egyptologist, I rely on Baldwin to tell me what oppressed people in an authoritarian regime thought but could not commit to paper.

By James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison

Why should I read it?

1 author picked James Baldwin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James Baldwin was a uniquely prophetic voice in American letters. His brilliant and provocative essays made him the literary voice of the Civil Rights Era, and they continue to speak with powerful urgency to us today, whether in the swirling debate over the Black Lives Matter movement or in the words of Raoul Peck's documentary "I Am Not Your Negro." Edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the Library of America's Collected Essays is the most comprehensive gathering of Baldwin's nonfiction ever published.

With burning passion and jabbing, epigrammatic wit, Baldwin fearlessly articulated issues of race and democracy and American identity…

Why Solange Matters

By Stephanie Phillips,

Book cover of Why Solange Matters

Audrey Golden Author Of I Thought I Heard You Speak: Women at Factory Records

From the list on revealing untold stories in music.

Who am I?

I’ve been thinking about and researching obscured narratives for a long time, now. As a lawyer, I learned about how systems and structures marginalize and hide important voices because of overt discrimination and implicit biases, and I took that knowledge with me while I earned a PhD in literary studies. I’ve learned — and am still learning! — that if we want to remedy exclusions from cultural histories, we’ve got to learn to think about what voices are missing and why. I hope reading my book and those recommended here will give you a chance to learn with me. Let’s change the ways we think about so-called “definitive” histories of music. 

Audrey's book list on revealing untold stories in music

Why did Audrey love this book?

This is a book about the power of one musician to reimagine the shapes of identity and power in the face of centuries-long violence and pervasive discrimination against Black individuals and communities, and the ability of song and text to create new histories and futures.

I don’t think my words could possibly be better than Stephanie Phillips’s, so I’ll quote from her book here: “To watch Solange is to see a version of unapologetic Blackness many Black people aspire to—one that doesn’t subscribe to previous notions of what it means to be Black, one aware of self-preservation, one that doesn’t give a f*** about what Becky in the back thinks Black people should do.”

Whether you’re a fan of Solange’s music or not, you’ll find Phillips’s writing completely inspiring.

By Stephanie Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Solange Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The dramatic story of Solange: a musician and artist whose unconventional journey to international success was far more important than her family name.

'Why Solange Matters is a significant and sober treatise on popular music . . . This book is more than necessary.'

'The author's prose sparkles . . . This is a book about what freedom could look like for Black women.'

'Invigorating . . . much more than a dry thesis and at times something nearer to personal reverie.'

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism

By Daisy Hernández (editor), Bushra Rehman (editor),

Book cover of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism

Darien Gee Author Of Nonwhite and Woman: 131 Micro Essays on Being in the World

From the list on women of color finding their stories.

Who am I?

As an author, editor, and woman of color, I celebrate stories that reflect a diversity of voices. Good storytelling allows us to catch a glimpse into lives that may be similar or different from ours, that champion what makes us unique while reminding us that we are not alone.  

Darien's book list on women of color finding their stories

Why did Darien love this book?

Originally published in 2002, Colonize This! brings together the voices of young women of color writing about their experiences of race and gender in America. The 2019 edition features essays by a new generation of feminists of color writing on issues such as police violence, transgender rights, and immigration. These fresh voices are intermixed with essays from the original 2002 publication, creating a poignant feminist dialogue.

By Daisy Hernández (editor), Bushra Rehman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It has been decades since women of color first turned feminism upside down, exposing the feminist movement as exclusive, white, and unaware of the concerns and issues of women of color from around the globe. Since then, key social movements have risen, including Black Lives Matter, transgender rights, and the activism of young undocumented students. Social media has also changed how feminism reaches young women of color, generating connections in all corners of the country. And yet we remain a country divided by race and gender.

Now, a new generation of outspoken women of color offer a much-needed fresh dimension…

Antiracist Baby

By Ibram X. Kendi, Ashley Lukashevsky (illustrator),

Book cover of Antiracist Baby

Christine Ieronimo Author Of The Purple Pail

From the list on bringing children together in acceptance and kindness.

Who am I?

I'm passionate about a world of kindness and inclusiveness. Growing up, I loved to write stories, but reading was hard. My eyes would go over the words but the meaning wouldn’t get to my brain. So I stopped writing. We must start with little children, making sure they believe in themselves, presenting issues of acceptance, diversity, and social justice. I've published two books on this theme and am working on two more. I talk to school classes and the media, and travel to Ethiopia, where I'm involved with their clean water project. I 'm involved in sustainable projects that improve health and education for children and young women. Please visit my website to learn more.

Christine's book list on bringing children together in acceptance and kindness

Why did Christine love this book?

This is a must for all babies and their readers! Ibram Kendi is the director of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research. He was one of Time magazine’s Most Influential People, 2020. A New York Times bestseller, the book has sold more than half a million copies to date. Antiracist Baby includes nine steps for building world where everyone thrives. 

Illustrator Ashley Lukashevsky, born in Hawaii, uses her art to champion people’s rights, from Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ+ to immigrants.

By Ibram X. Kendi, Ashley Lukashevsky (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Antiracist Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby's nine easy steps for building a more equitable world.

With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.

A Good Kind of Trouble

By Lisa Moore Ramée,

Book cover of A Good Kind of Trouble

Jasmine Warga Author Of The Shape of Thunder

From the list on middle grade with heart and honesty.

Who am I?

I’m a middle grade author, and I believe so much in the power of books to help broker conversations between kids and the adults in their lives, especially if those conversations are about things that are often tricky and tough to talk about. I love how middle grade fiction will fearlessly tackle these difficult topics, but does so well with heart and humor. 

Jasmine's book list on middle grade with heart and honesty

Why did Jasmine love this book?

A Good Kind of Trouble is the beautiful story that follows the main character, Shayla, as she learns to use her voice and speak up for things that matters to her. The book has everything I love in a middle grade novel like humor and heart (Lisa is a master at describing junior high friendships and crushes!), but also engages honestly with the reader about important things like racism and social justice. This book can serve as a fantastic conversation starter for kids and parents and kids and teachers.

By Lisa Moore Ramée,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Good Kind of Trouble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From debut author Lisa Moore Ramee comes this funny and big-hearted debut middle grade novel about friendship, family, and standing up for what's right, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and the novels of Renee Watson and Jason Reynolds.

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she'd also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)

But in junior high, it's like all the rules have changed.…

Graceland, At Last

By Margaret Renkl,

Book cover of Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South

Diane Charney Author Of Letters to Men of Letters

From Diane's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Yale professor Musician Passionate gardener Owner of a magic flying shirt Salad queen

Diane's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Diane's 10-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Diane love this book?

Margaret Renkl, who comes from a colorful southern family, interweaves her close observations of nature with glimpses of her own autobiography. She uses her birthplace and nature as her gauge, mirror, and touchstone, whereas I use my authors.

Renkl writes a weekly opinion column for the NYT. “The Gift of Shared Grief” is my favorite piece from her second book. I hope that you don’t need it right now, but maybe it will be useful to you when you do. Renkl’s way of responding to grief is wise, eloquent, and uplifting; however, when necessary, she can be brave and fierce.

When Renkl says, “Every day the world is teaching me what I need to know to be in the world,” she’s not talking about screaming headlines. 

By Margaret Renkl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Graceland, At Last as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
Winner of the 2022 Southern Book Prize
An Indie Next Selection for September 2021
A Book Marks Best Reviewed Essay Collection of 2021
A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of 2021
A Country Living Best Book of Fall 2021
A Garden & Gun Recommended Read for Fall 2021
A Book Marks Best Reviewed Book of September 2021

For the past four years, Margaret Renkl's columns have offered readers of The New York Times a weekly dose of natural beauty, human decency, and persistent hope from her home in Nashville.…

Covid Chronicles

By Kendra Boileau (editor), Rich Johnson (editor),

Book cover of Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology

Deborah Lupton Author Of COVID Societies: Theorising the Coronavirus Crisis

From the list on everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who am I?

I am a sociologist with a longstanding interest in the social aspects of medicine and public health. I started with research on HIV/AIDS. Since then, I have written many books and conducted a multitude of studies on how people understand and experience health and illness and how they seek help when they are sick or feel at risk from disease. When COVID-19 hit the world in early 2020, it was not long before I started to think about what my research training and expertise could offer to understanding the social impacts of this new pandemic. I started to write about COVID and research on people’s everyday experiences.

Deborah's book list on everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic

Why did Deborah love this book?

The COVID Chronicles is an anthology of graphic fiction about COVID life. The dozens of contributors are mostly based in the US but also come from Australia, Canada, the UK, Europe, and Asia. There are a dizzying array of art styles and tones across the collection, from humorous to darkly grim. Together, all the graphic narratives reveal the ups and downs of pandemic life in the early months of COVID: from dealing with loneliness, unemployment, illness, and death, transitioning to working from home, racism, and the Black Lives Matter protests to seeking opportunities to show love, care, connection, and hope.

By Kendra Boileau (editor), Rich Johnson (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Covid Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees. When we weren't sheltering in place, we were advised to wear masks, wash our hands, and practice social distancing. We watched in horror as medical personnel worked around the clock to care for the sick and dying. Businesses were shuttered, travel stopped, workers were furloughed, and markets dropped. And people continued to die.

Amid all this uncertainty, writers and artists from around the world continued to create comics, commenting directly on how individuals, societies, governments, and markets reacted to the worldwide crisis. COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology collects more…

Healing Resistance

By Kazu Haga,

Book cover of Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm

Erika Erickson Malinoski Author Of Pledging Season

From the list on where nonviolence changes the world.

Who am I?

I’m a lifelong sci-fi/fantasy reader who loves the way speculative fiction helps us explore who we are, what we could become, and how to troubleshoot the future before we get there. As a parent and active community member, I’m looking for fresh perspectives on how to tackle the increasingly complex challenges of our time, perspectives that go beyond simplistic solutions like finding bad guys and killing them in climactic battles. I hope books that showcase nonviolent social change in all its complexity can help us imagine better ways to make a difference in our own lives.

Erika's book list on where nonviolence changes the world

Why did Erika love this book?

Another nonfiction book, Healing Resistance does a splendid job showing the philosophical connections between nonviolence on an interpersonal level and nonviolent social change movements. Drawing on the tradition of Kingian nonviolence, this book is a useful starting place for anyone who wants to understand what nonviolence is and isn’t as well as how it works. It’s also chock full of recommendations for other books and is a great jumping-off point for further reading. Sometimes nonviolence doesn’t look like what we expect.

By Kazu Haga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Healing Resistance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expert in the field offers a mindfulness-based approach to nonviolent action, demonstrating how nonviolence is a powerful tool for personal and social transformation

Nonviolence was once considered the highest form of activism and radical change. And yet its basic truth, its restorative power, has been forgotten. In Healing Resistance, leading trainer Kazu Haga blazingly reclaims the energy and assertiveness of nonviolent practice and shows that a principled approach to nonviolence is the way to transform not only unjust systems but broken relationships.
With over 20 years of experience practicing and teaching Kingian Nonviolence, Haga offers us a practical approach…

The Quiet Before

By Gal Beckerman,

Book cover of The Quiet Before

Jacob Harold Author Of The Toolbox: Strategies for Crafting Social Impact

From the list on social change strategy.

Who am I?

When I was eight years old, my family went for a hike on Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak in my home state of North Carolina. We stumbled on a horror scene: most of the trees on the mountain were scarred skeletons; we were witnesses to mass death from acid rain. Since then, I’ve devoted myself to trying to nudge human action towards good. At Greenpeace I chained myself to fences, at the Hewlett Foundation I oversaw millions of dollars in grants, as GuideStar CEO I helped lead a technology platform used by millions of donors and do-gooders. I’ve been blessed to work with some of the best thinkers and doers in business, philanthropy, and government.

Jacob's book list on social change strategy

Why did Jacob love this book?

How do movements begin? Beckerman looks to history, drawing lessons from a dozen social movements.

In particular, he explores the communications tools (petitions, zines, private chat rooms) that movements have used over the centuries to organize their thinking and plan their actions. Traveling from Manchester to Moscow to Minneapolis, the reader is reminded that our work now is part of a chain of history.

We are not the first, nor will we be the last. But we can learn from the past even as we confront an uncertain future. 

By Gal Beckerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quiet Before as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Quiet Before is a fascinating and important exploration of how ideas that change the world incubate and spread.' Steven Pinker

'Filled with insightful analysis and colourful storytelling... Rarely does a book give you a new way of looking at social change. This one does.' Walter Isaacson

Why do some radical ideas make history?

We tend to think of revolutions as loud: frustrations and demands shouted in the streets. But the ideas fuelling them have traditionally been conceived in much quieter spaces, in the small, secluded corners where a vanguard can imagine alternate realities. This extraordinary book is a search…

Book cover of A Brief History of Fear and Intolerance in Tillamook County

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

From the list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA.

Who am I?

When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I heard about the 1988 murder of an Ethiopian student by skinheads of the White Aryan Resistance. A famous trial subsequently bankrupted that white supremacist organization. When I began writing my trilogy, set in 1923, I learned about the strength of the Oregon KKK during the 1920s. I could see a direct line between the bigotry of that era and contemporary Portland. The more I studied the Klan of the 20s, the more I knew this information had to be part of my novels. Besides these book recommendations, I read numerous articles about Klan history. Everyone should learn this history.

Jeff's book list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA

Why did Jeff love this book?

I love Hill’s passion for elucidating our history in order to combat prejudice. She approaches the origins of fear and intolerance from diverse perspectives, starting with violent clashes between 1700s explorers and indigenous peoples of Oregon’s Pacific coast. She describes the long history of stealing Oregon land from natives, and how the US Civil War contributed to the exclusion of African Americans from Oregon in its state constitution. Later she shows how D. W. Griffith’s movie The Birth of a Nation was instrumental in the re-emergence of the KKK in the 1920s, and WWI propaganda against Germans and fear of Bolshevism contributed to Klan hatred of immigrants. In later chapters Hill brings us up to the present summarizing anti-LGBTQ political initiatives and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)

By Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson,

Book cover of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

David P. Barash Author Of OOPS! The Worst Blunders of All Time

From the list on people making mistakes: mythic, silly, tragic.

Who am I?

I’m an emeritus professor of psychology (University of Washington) who has long been intrigued by the mistakes that people have made throughout history. I’ve long been struck by Oppenheimer’s observation, immediately after the Trinity explosion, that “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” This led me to look into the wide array of mistakes, from the mythic, literary, athletic, business, political, medical, and military. In writing OOPS!, I let myself go in a way that I’ve never before, writing with a critical and wise-ass style that isn’t strictly academic, but is factually accurate and, frankly, was a lot of fun!

David's book list on people making mistakes: mythic, silly, tragic

Why did David love this book?

Two renowned social psychologists show how people—some famous and some not—avoid taking responsibility for their blunders.

By the book''s end, we see how we avoid admitting our missteps, and aware of how much our own (and everyone's) lives would improve if we could simply say, ''I made a mistake. I'm sorry.”

By Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. This updated edition concludes with an extended discussion of how we can live with dissonance, learn from it, and perhaps, eventually, forgive ourselves.

Why is it so hard to say “I made a mistake”—and really believe it?

When we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so, unconsciously, we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral,…

James Baldwin

By David Leeming,

Book cover of James Baldwin: A Biography

Magdalena J. Zaborowska Author Of James Baldwin's Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile

From the list on James Baldwin as a Black queer exile.

Who am I?

Born and raised in Poland during the Cold War, I learned that writers and intellectuals could be jailed, exiled, or even killed for their ideas. I came to James Baldwin over two decades ago in search of literature that told of freedom and humanism beyond national borders and simplistic binaries. As a Black queer man driven away from his homeland, Baldwin linked his personal pain, heartbreak, and torment to his public life, authorship, and activism. His art and life story have both inspired my labors as a bilingual and bicultural literary critic and biographer and provided a template for my own journey as an immigrant, mother of a Black child, teacher, writer, and scholar.

Magdalena's book list on James Baldwin as a Black queer exile

Why did Magdalena love this book?

This is still the most comprehensive and detailed account of the writer’s life and works. Leeming worked closely with Baldwin as an assistant and secretary after first meeting him in Istanbul. 

I love this book, for it was my introduction to Baldwin and his life as an exile and one of the most powerful social and cultural critics of twentieth-century America. It’s written accessibly—the life-story narrative flows easily and one feels the author’s compassion for and understanding of the writer’s evolution, process, as well as his specific works. 

It has taught me that the best biographies both reveal and conceal their authors’ personal investment in their subject and their own life stories. And that the best biographers must skillfully and passionately play with both.

Years ago when I first read it, it was helpful in overcoming my initial terror as an immigrant from the Other Europe, the terror that I…

By David Leeming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked James Baldwin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The most revealing and subjectively penetrating assessment of Baldwin's life yet published." -The New York Times Book Review. "The first Baldwin biography in which one can recognize the human features of this brilliant, troubled, principled, supremely courageous man." -Boston Globe

James Baldwin was one of the great writers of the last century. In works that have become part of the American canon-Go Tell It on a Mountain, Giovanni's Room, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen-he explored issues of race and racism in America, class distinction, and sexual difference.

A gay, African American writer…


By L.L. McKinney, Robyn Smith (illustrator),

Book cover of Nubia

Tim Hanley Author Of Not All Supermen: Sexism, Toxic Masculinity, and the Complex History of Superheroes

From the list on heroines who have yet to hit the big screen.

Who am I?

I’ve been a comic book nerd forever and a comic book historian for the past fifteen years, specializing in the history of female superheroes and writing books about Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Catwoman, and more. A lot of amazing heroines have been featured in adaptations that have introduced them to a larger audience, but there are so many other great characters still waiting to get their chance to shine. I’m excited to share a few of them that I really love with you here, as well as spotlight a diverse collection of creators and characters that deserve a closer look.

Tim's book list on heroines who have yet to hit the big screen

Why did Tim love this book?

In recent years, DC has branched out into standalone YA graphic novels that reimagine their characters, and Nubia: Real One is my favorite one yet. In the mainline comics, Nubia was Wonder Woman’s long-lost twin sister, but here McKinney and Smith reimagine her as a teenager in the southern United States, dealing with her Amazon powers as she reckons with injustice and police brutality. The book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and McKinney and Smith’s desire to create a heroine that resonates with the issues faced by young, Black readers, and they deliver a fantastic story.

By L.L. McKinney, Robyn Smith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nubia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nubia has always been a little bit different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian-like strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbour s cat. But despite her having similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she s no Wonder Woman. And even if she were, they wouldn t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she s reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can t deny the fire within her, even if she s a little awkward about it…

Book cover of Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

David B. Allison Author Of Controversial Monuments and Memorials: A Guide for Community Leaders

From the list on memory that make you question how you see the past.

Who am I?

Memory is capricious and impacts our view of the past. That’s why I do what I do! I am a twenty-year museum professional who began my career at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, worked at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for almost ten years, and am now part of the Arts & History department at the City and County of Broomfield. I have designed and developed programs and events, as well as managed teams in each of these stops. I seek to illuminate stories, elevate critical voices, and advocate for equity through the unique pathways of the arts, history, and museum magic.

David's book list on memory that make you question how you see the past

Why did David love this book?

By turns funny, poignant, and incisive, the late author Tony Horwitz tours the South with a journalist’s eye and a sociologist’s heart.

He bravely takes on the memory of the Civil War through the eyes of reenactors, angry neo-Confederates in bars, and Black museum guides (among many others). I recently re-read this book through the lens of the Black Lives Matter movement and the killing of George Floyd, which touched off numerous protests against monuments to Confederate leaders.

When Horwitz wrote this book in the late 1990s, it seemed unlikely that Monument Avenue in Richmond would ever change. In the case of monuments to problematic historic figures, at least, people’s perspectives have indeed shifted over time. Horwitz’s book is a great reminder that change is possible!

By Tony Horwitz,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Confederates in the Attic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent takes us on an explosive adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where Civil War reenactors, battlefield visitors, and fans of history resurrect the ghosts of the Lost Cause through ritual and remembrance.  

"The freshest book about divisiveness in America that I have read in some time. This splendid commemoration of the war and its legacy ... is an eyes–open, humorously no–nonsense survey of complicated Americans." —The New York Times Book Review

For all who remain intrigued by the legacy of the Civil War—reenactors, battlefield visitors, Confederate descendants and other Southerners,…