Black Voices

It is an opportune time to celebrate Black voices, and literature is one of the best ways to become familiar with some of the community’s most illuminating stories. Thanks to the work of these authors, the world can better understand both the struggles and triumphs of Black people in America.  Here is a selection of ebooks (available on Overdrive) by Black authors covering classics, fiction, memoirs, and contemporary reads to enlighten yourself about the Black experience and join the urgent and critical conversation about race and discrimination.

{66743FD2-FBAD-4205-B6D0-6E99C29221AA}Img100Beloved by Toni Morrison

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

{E662C64B-D188-4D87-83CE-DDA64918CB00}Img100Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Coates attempts to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son.

 

 

{B8EF7495-FD1A-4F33-B081-C54E681C6F40}Img100Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine by Emily Bernard

In these twelve deeply personal, connected essays, Bernard details the experience of growing up black in the south with a family name inherited from a white man, surviving a random stabbing at a New Haven coffee shop, marrying a white man from the North and bringing him home to her family, adopting two children from Ethiopia, and living and teaching in a primarily white New England college town.

{B18366D9-29AA-403C-842A-3E288F71B3EE}Img100Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights by Gretchen Sorin

Historian Sorin reveals how the car—the ultimate symbol of independence and possibility—has always held particular importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the many dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. At the same time, she shows that the car, despite the freedoms it offered, brought black people up against new challenges, from segregated ambulance services to unwarranted traffic stops, and the racist violence that too often followed.

{03C689DD-AF03-4990-AAEE-AC56476798BD}Img100The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, this book galvanized the nation and gave a passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism.

{FF4F86E3-6706-46FA-ACAA-1787B0A0355B}Img100Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Follows the parallel paths of two sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. This extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

{B8C367DA-E521-490B-8DD3-2B8C9C3CFB74}Img100How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and re energizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

{0406628E-86ED-40B8-A8B9-ED7D4B5F0450}Img100Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Written in 1952, this is a milestone in American literature.  The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.

{BEA8ED96-6FA1-4809-B159-34C91CB78501}Img100Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The visionary author’s masterpiece pulls us—along with her Black female hero—through time to face the horrors of slavery and explore the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.  This story centers around Dana, a young writer in 1970s Los Angeles who is unexpectedly whisked away to the 19th century antebellum South, where she saves the life of Rufus Weylin, the son of a plantation owner.

{4200A972-98C7-4D3F-9E2B-F7E13C9000DE}Img100Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

In this beautiful rendering of a brutal world, Ward contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the risk of being a black man in the rural South.

 

 

{6EFD0AA6-72CE-45B1-9995-4A2E2D810C9E}Img100The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

With dazzling candor, legal scholar Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.  This tenth-anniversary edition has a  new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.

{6307DE10-0C39-431A-9585-5F8BD813550A}Img100The Nickel Boys  by Colson Whitehead

Thia 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

 

 

{253D6EFB-5AFD-45B5-A6DA-3121A4469005}Img100Policing the Black Man Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment by Angela J. Davis

This thought-provoking and compelling anthology explores and critiques the many ways the criminal justice system impacts the lives of African American boys and men at every stage of the criminal process, from arrest through sentencing. Essays range from an explication of the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system to an examination of modern-day police killings of unarmed black men.

{DD4A128B-EE00-4C03-B8B8-28BBE0EA5C8B}Img100Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin—A Parents’ Story by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin

Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.

 

 

{589B71CA-7FD1-48B2-B2AE-05865EA6F8AA}Img100Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches by Catherine Ellis & Stephen Drury Smith

This unique anthology collects the transcribed speeches of the twentieth century’s leading African American cultural, literary, and political figures, many of them never before available in printed form. It is a vivid, moving portrait of how black Americans have sounded the charge against injustice, exhorting the country to live up to its democratic principles.

{90A2754E-D680-4E94-BDDB-5D21317CC7AD}Img100Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

A profound new rendering of the struggle by African-Americans for equality after the Civil War and the violent counter-revolution that resubjugated them, as seen through the prism of the war of images and ideas that have left an enduring racist stain on the American mind.

{EAD27197-6300-4F6B-83B2-B921D8DDEE66}Img100The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

{D0D8269C-589D-48D1-9152-10FE2F502F71}Img100Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos.  Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

{8E11208F-4698-45F5-9589-418631711140}Img100We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

This electrifying, hallucinatory novel is at once a keen satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. At its center is a father who just wants his son to thrive in a broken world, and it fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

 

{FFBD3E18-20D0-4753-A131-6A0144B59F75}Img100Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim

An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.

For further expressions of Black voices, check out these ebooks and audiobooks on Hoopla.

-Archana, Adult Services &Acquisitions Librarian

Say “I Do” to These Books

The spring wedding season has taken a bit hit due to the pandemic and nuptials are being postponed.  Are you one of those who is disappointed that the wedding you were looking forward to is not happening for a while?

How about “tying the knot”with these  tales revolving around weddings, brides, bridesmaids and related excitement, to keep that wedding fervour alive?

All are available as ebooks on Overdrive/Libby.

{5912F585-E2EF-4295-BB1A-AE71A77E8E2F}Img100Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudiceby Curtis Sittenfeld

Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

 

{3471C432-3CB8-46A6-905F-0D9EC4557A9D}Img100The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

An exhilarating novel about Frances Gerety, the real pioneering ad woman who coined the famous slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” and four unique marriages that will test how true—or not—those words might be.

 

{8A6D1C2E-5F73-44D4-B435-1DCE647D79B5}Img100A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe

Together for the first time in years, six college friends reunite on the coast of Brittany. Love triangles, abandoned dreams, and long-held resentments bubble over, culminating in a wedding none of them ever expected.

 

{B5D82FBB-1183-4795-9E8A-090C50219AEE}Img100Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

The story of three women, Isabella, Mary, and Lauren  grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love–all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers.

 

{42E9C5E9-6747-477A-BA98-349F7994D33E}Img100Hasty Wedding by Debbie Macomber

On the day of her best friend’s Las Vegas wedding, Clare Gilroy fears that her own walk down the aisle will never happen…until she finds herself falling for best man–and town outcast–Reed Tonasket.

 

{BFA922C9-F0D9-46C3-9BD9-01A36A4E3330}Img100I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

A story of a bride to be who is completely incapable of staying faithful, and yet she’s about to marry her fiancé in Key West. As the wedding approaches, Lily’s nights—and mornings, and afternoons—of booze, laughter and questionable decisions become a growing reminder that the happiest day of her life might turn out to be her worst mistake yet.

 

{AF84F7D5-32E2-4D31-8084-46F1A0462646}Img100A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer

Wedding bells are ringing—and a widowed mother of two hopes the occasion will reunite her daughters in this delightful beach-town tale about family relationships and second chances.

 

 

{246EF526-AA97-4A92-9A95-21BA54EE94BB}Img100Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

Up-and-coming floral designer Cara Kryzik is about to score the wedding of a lifetime—one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for Savannah society nuptials. The only problem is, life seems to be conspiring against her.  Can this wedding be saved?

 

{FBF66BEF-026A-4D69-8337-F797FF4E77AF}Img100Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to the impeccably appropriate Greyson Duff. The weekend is full of champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie.  When old resentments, a beached whale and an escaped lobster are added to the mix, the wedding that should have gone off with military precision threatens to become a spectacle of misbehavior.

{426AAB55-4073-43C1-807B-52825EB69CC7}Img100The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

The post-WWII story of the war brides who crossed the seas by the thousands to face their unknown futures.

 

 

{E5C3CD05-B7AC-4E90-8BBD-4C67A641297F}Img100The Wedding by Danielle Steel

As preparations begin for a September ceremony, surprise announcements and ever-increasing anxiety bring out the best and worst in everyone.

 

{2388CE3C-9251-45BA-A135-E09DBB04C988}Img100The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in this fun and flirty multicultural romance debut.

 

{E7C98B4A-3FC2-42CC-A6A0-7A75392F1A3B}Img100The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Four brides. One Dress. A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love. Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

{2322ED88-6F7D-4F84-8F19-644B2E44749E}Img100Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose, but then his big question involves a trip abroad–not a trip down the aisle. Completely crushed, Lottie reconnects with an old flame, and they decide to take drastic action. No dates, no moving in together, they’ll just get married . . . right now.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian