This past year, I’ve been trying to understand American society from perspectives outside my own. I’ve been troubled by the resurgence of white nationalism and by my own sense of helplessness to change anything. I’ve been troubled too by my own ignorance.
So I’ve been reading. It may not be much, but educating myself seems like a good place to start. The following books are several I’ve found helpful in understanding racism, both in the country at large and in my own hidden biases.
A couple of notes before I jump to the books: my list is hardly comprehensive (a more thorough list is available here) and is based on my own reading experiences. Though I’ve read and list several books that are specifically about anti-black racism, it’s especially deficient in understanding the racism that other minority groups face. That’s something I hope to correct with further reading and action. But hopefully this list can serve as a starting place for others like me who’d like to start their antiracist education.
Eberhardt is a Stanford social psychologist who has dedicated her career to researching implicit bias. Her book combines research data, illustrative stories, and personal experience to show the ways we all, generally unknowingly, make assumptions based on race. She also explains how these biases can have drastic consequences, particularly in the criminal justice system, but also in day-to-day human relationships. BIASED particularly shines in arguing, with extensive data, against a color-blind attitude that “doesn’t see race.” Even if we aren’t consciously focusing on race, are brains are noticing it, and only by acknowledging that reality can start to change our assumptions
This book is a challenging book with ideas that are often uncomfortable, but I recommend it for anyone who’s willing to confront their own shortcomings. DiAngelo emphasizes again and again that the way we think of racism isn’t particularly accurate or helpful. Racism isn’t just men in white hoods with ropes in their hands. It isn’t restricted to the past, and it isn’t restricted to bad people. Because we tend to think of racism only in its most dramatic forms, white people are often horrified, hurt, and denying if their racist words or actions are called out. DiAngelo calls on white readers to let go of this defensiveness and instead engage in meaningful listening, dialogue, and change.
Kendi’s book offers a new perspective on racism. He argues that there is no neutral territory in the fight against racism; there’s no such thing as being simply not racist. You are either racist, or you are antiracist, and to be antiracist is to actively promote policies that produce or sustain racial equality and to fight against policies that produce or sustain racial inequality. Antiracism is active. Antiracism is activism. In any given moment, an individual is being either an antiracist or a racist, and the goal should be regular self-evaluation in that regard.
This novel might seem like an odd fit in a list of social justice nonfiction books, but nothing else I’ve read has so effectively shown the lingering effects of slavery and colonialism in modern society. Gyasi follows two branches of an African family, one remaining on the continent, and another brought forcibly to America, through more than 200 years of history. With exquisite writing and vibrant characters, Gyasi reveals the consequences of anti-black racism, present and past, personal and structural.
Based on the subtitle of this book, “The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist,” and its story of a famous white nationalist who changed his views through education and friendship, you might think I’m recommending it as a kind of how-to guide to unmaking a racist. In fact, that’s what I expected going into it.
Instead, I came away certain that Derek Black was the exception, not the rule, and I felt more alarmed about the rise of white nationalism than ever. That alarm is precisely why I recommend this book, though. Derek Black (before his change of heart), his father, and their followers used a variety of tactics to make white supremacy more palatable and “nice,” which allowed their ideas to subtly infiltrate American media and politics. RISING OUT OF HATRED is hauntingly eye-opening and a necessary read for anyone who thinks racism is a problem of the past.
For the last few years, Provo City Librarians have participated with the Children’s Library Association of Utah in choosing books for consideration for the Beehive Book Awards. This state award highlights books that motivate young people to read, and the awards winners are determined by votes from the public. We would love your input on which books should be considered for the 2021 awards!
Here are some Young Adult titles up for consideration. Visit the library’s Teen Corner to see the full list of over 40 nominees, and pick up a ballot to cast a vote before the end of January!
Elsa’s mother is a well-known scriptologist- a person who can craft and alter worlds using a special writing tools. In fact, Elsa came from one of these worlds. When her mother is kidnapped, Elsa must discover her own gifts and travel through the real and imagined worlds with the help of a secret society of mechanics and alchemists in order to save her. This steampunk fantasy with a splash of alternate history is the first in a series.
In this medieval or Arthurian toned graphic novel, Lady "Poppy" Pyppenia’s father, the king, has passed away. Though she is the next in line of succession to the throne, he uncle has instead assumed the rule, but that doesn’t stop the threats to her life. She and her royal guard, Cyrenic, whom she finds herself falling for, go in search of who may be trying to kill her and uncover a complicated and unexpected conspiracy that runs deeper than they could have imagined.
A squad of misfits and leftovers isn’t exactly the dream team Legionnaire Tyler Jones imagined when he thought he would get first pick from the graduates of Aurora Academy. The team, including a snarky scientist, a stow away recently awakened after being frozen 200 years, and a violent combat strategist, must pull together in this fast paced scape opera.
Zan and Priya were inseparable, the sort of friendship that spans distance and time. So, when Priya has to move away, Zan knows they will be able to maintain their friendship. That’s why Zan knows that something isn’t right when her friend stops responding to her messages and eerily un-Priya-like posts begin to appear on her social media.
Ollie loves to read and recently saved a book from a woman who was threatening to throw it in the river. It’s a haunting story about a “smiling man” who grants wishes, but at a high cost. When on a school fieldtrip Ollie sees the names of the people from the book in the graveyard of an old farmhouse, she can’t help but wonder if the “smiling man” might be real.
The Dewey Decimal System is a great organizational tool for many libraries.
You want a cook book? Check out the 600s!
Do you want to look into some self-help? Let’s mosey on over to the 100s shelf.
What’s that you say? You’re going on a trip to Prague and want a travel guide? Just visit the 900s and we’ll find what you need.
Yes, the Dewey Decimal System is wonderful. However some sections don’t get as much love because it’s unclear what they have to offer. Take the 000’s section for example: It’s known as the “generalities.” What does that even mean?
If you want to know what the 000’s have to offer, then allow me to introduce you to some interesting books.
This read covers all of the Sasquatch basics: identifying footprints, family trees, the Bigfoot profile, how to confirm a sighting and more. This field guide is complete with maps and several brief accounts of Sasquatch sightings.
Interested in a mystery mixed with a love note to libraries? Then this is the book for you. Orlean explores the Los Angeles Public Library fire that occurred in 1986. She unpacks the sequence of events, evidence, and repercussions that the fire caused for the community. Sprinkled in this account are some of Orlean’s personal experiences of books, reading, and libraries that give the story a personal flare.
Aspiring Authors are sure to glean valuable knowledge from this book. Orr teaches how to develop a story idea, hook readers with first lines, craft fabulous characters, and how to pitch an idea to publishers. If you’re tired of having your manuscripts rejected, then take a look at NO MORE REJECTIONS.
We all need advice once in a while. How can I get this soda stain out of the carpet? How can I get John to notice me? How can I stop my cat from eating rubber mats? Weisberg cleverly crafts centuries of advice columns to create a read that is equal parts history, journalism, and entertainment.
Learn how to fix lighting, erase pimples, combine images, and more with this how-to guide. If you have dreams of becoming a Photoshop wizard or you just want more followers on social media, then give this book a chance. You can teach yourself the skills necessary to further your professional and personal goals.
Additional computer software and coding guides can also be found in the 000’s. If you’re a visual learner, then you may want to use our Lynda database. You can access video trainings on Photoshop, InDesign, Microsoft Excel, coding languages, and many other computer based skills. It’s free with a library card!
It’s been a while since my last segment as I was hoping to leave you with some nice alone time with your book. But love is, after all, a fickle thing and perhaps you are again on the search for a great night out (or in).
Below are four eligible and mysterious book-bachelors. If one interests you, just scroll down and go ahead and check it out (in more ways than one perhaps).