The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
As a young boy, Colson Whitehead mistook the Underground Railroad as a literal subterranean locomotive. He fostered that idea and turned it into an exploration of American history. Sixteen years in the making, this novel follows two slaves who ride the train in a perilous search for freedom.
Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi
As relevant as ever, Ibram Kendi’s comprehensive study follows the threads of racism as they weave throughout American history. Kendi uses five main people to investigate the development of racist ideas in this country: the preacher and intellectual Cotton Mather, Founding Father and president Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, and activist Angela Davis. By examining these key players, Kendi demonstrates how and why some of the most famous proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have both challenged and cemented racist ideas in America.
To buy: $22.50, amazon.com.
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE
March: Book Three, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
The third book in a series of graphic memoirs, March: Book Three tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of activist and Georgia Congressman John Lewis. This final installment begins with the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama and culminates with the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, during which Lewis was badly beaten on the march’s “Bloody Sunday.” Nate Powell’s high-contrast black-and-white illustrations underscore the emotional intensity of the story and bring familiar historical characters to life.
To buy: $13.50, amazon.com.
The Performance of Becoming Human, by Daniel Borzutzky
In this bleak and dystopian book of poetry, Daniel Borzutzky draws connections between the U.S. and Latin America (in particular, Chicago and Chile, two places that have shaped his own identity) to explore issues such as border and immigration policies, political violence, and economic disparity.
To buy: $17, amazon.com.