Investing in the economic prosperity of the Black community by supporting Black-owned businesses and voices is a critical way to transfer the wealth from the elite or majority and educate yourself on being a better ally by listening to POC perspectives during the Black Lives Matter movement that goes beyond just recent events. So, in an effort to seek a better understanding and help amplify Black authors as well as educate myself, I reached out to two black female-owned bookshops, Da Book Joint and Semicolon, for their recommended book list. I also reached out to City Lit Books to find out how they are promoting Black voices.
“People have been frustrated for a long time, and sometimes that manifests into anger, said Verlean Singletary, owner at Da Book Joint. “There will be a wealth of new, honest writings from this, and I want to be the platform that gets them heard.”
Needless to say, after reviewing the recommendations and speaking to the bookstore owners, I am humbled by how much I still need to learn and unlearn but I am ready do to the work. I hope others are too.
*Please note, book titles listed in bold were recommended by multiple bookstores.
Recommended Reading from Da Book Joint
- How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi (2019)
- The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin (1962)
- The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward (2016)
- Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)
- Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine (2014)
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo (2018)
- They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement, by Wesley Lowery (2016)
- Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon (2018)
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander (2010)
- The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America (2010)
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. (2014)
- What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan (2005)
- All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold (2018)
- Teach Your Dragon About Diversity by Steve Herman (2019)
- The Skin I’m In by Pat Thomas: A first look at racism (2003)
- What Can A Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers (2018)
- The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander (2019)
Da Book Joint is currently updating its website but can take orders and receive payment via invoices by emailing Singletary directly at [email protected].
Recommended Reading from Semicolon
“We are elated by the sheer magnitude of support we’ve received in the last week,” said DL Mullen, owner of Semicolon Chi. “We love that people seem genuinely interested in being better, and look forward to what conversations will look and feel like in the very near future.”
- Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve Ewing (2018)
- Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith (1993)
- The Education of the Negro (an essential preface to the Mis-Education of the Negro) by Carter G Woodson (1933)
- The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G Woodson (1933)
- Sister Outsider (for teens and adults) by Audre Lorde (1984)
Semicolon is open but its inventory is limited. Check the store’s Instagram for details on hours and ways to buy books.
Recommended Reading from City Lit
“Since Saturday, we have seen a pivot in book requests from summer reading, cookbooks, and bestsellers to such titles as ‘So You Want to Talk about Race‘, ‘Stamped,’ and ‘How to be an Anti-Racist,'” said Teresa Kirschbraun of City Lit Books. “People are clearly searching for education and inspiration to better understand.”
- When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele (2018)
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds (2020)
- Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown (2019)
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016)
- Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston (2018)
- Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers (2018)
- Bttm Fdrs by Ezra Claytan Daniels & Ben Passmore (2019)
- Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures (2018)
- “Wow, no thank you.” by Samantha Irby (2020)
- “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations” by Toni Morrison (2019)
- Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (2019)
- Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (2019)
- Telephone by Percival Everett (2020)
- Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga (2019)
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (1993)
- The Mothers by Brit Bennett (2016)
- The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (2019)
- Magical Negro by Morgan Parker (2019)
- A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib (2019)
- Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (2015)
- Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (2019)
- Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (2020)
- Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018)
- That Hair by Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida (2017)
- Woke by Mahogany L Browne (2020)
- Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon (2020)
- Homemade Love by bell hooks (2002)
City Lit Books is closed for browsing right now but they have put recommendations in our windows and are available for offering more suggestions over the phone in pursuit of more knowledge. Also, to show their support at this time, City Lit Books will be donating a portion of these purchases to Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
In order to fully immerse ourselves in Chicago’s Black voices, fellow editor and photographer, Erik Island recommends subscribing to South Side Weekly, a nonprofit newspaper dedicated to supporting cultural and civic engagement on the South Side, and to developing emerging journalists, writers, and artists. The TRiiBE is also a great news site dedicated to sharing Black experiences in the city.
Laslty, I just finished reading “White Fragility.” I have a lot of thoughts and would love to discuss them and if you are reading it, I’m sure you do too. I have a stack of books to start after that and would love a few discussion partners on this journey, ideally living Logan Square. If that is of interest or if you have feedback on this article, feel free to reach out at [email protected].
Featured photo: Erik Island