The best BLM books (Black Lives Matter )

6 authors have picked their favorite books about Black Lives Matter and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of A Good Kind of Trouble

A Good Kind of Trouble

By Lisa Moore Ramée,

Why 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.

From the list:

The best middle grade books with heart and honesty

Book cover of James Baldwin: Collected Essays

James Baldwin: Collected Essays

By Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on power and the powerless

Book cover of Orgy at the STD Clinic

Orgy at the STD Clinic

By Johnny Townsend,

Why this book?

This book takes us on various modes of public transportation through Seattle, following an overweight, diabetic grocery store cashier struggling to make ends meet after losing his boyfriend to mob violence during a BLM rally. I love the way this book mirrors the moments of hilarity and the moments of sleaze that anyone who has ridden a bus in a metropolitan area will immediately recognize. It took me back to my own trips on the New York City subways, reading a book while a homeless man sang "Sexual Healing" in the aisles, lol. This book is totally of our moment,…

From the list:

The best books about people trying to keep their shit together

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

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

By Robin Diangelo,

Why 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!
From the list:

The best books on kickass communication

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

Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm

By Kazu Haga,

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books where nonviolence changes the world

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

Anti-Racist Ally: An Introduction to Activism and Action

By Sophie Williams,

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books to equip you to fight for change when the world is conspiring to make you feel powerless

Book cover of James Baldwin: A Biography

James Baldwin: A Biography

By David Leeming,

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on James Baldwin as a Black queer exile

Book cover of Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being

Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being

By Kevin Quashie,

Why 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…
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The best books to inspire good feelings

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