The MahoganyBooks Adult Bestsellers list is more than just a look at the Top Five books purchased over the past month from our store and website. It’s a list that takes into account the interests and concerns of African American readers/shoppers regardless of publisher, recency of publication, or book promotions geared at manufacturing sales.
Quite simply, our bestsellers list is a representation of the kinds of literary content that matters to them. #BlackBooksMatter
So without further ado, we present our…
February 2021 | MahoganyBooks Adult Bestsellers
#1 – Four Hundred Souls by Ibram Kendi
A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present–edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.
The story begins in 1619–a year before the Mayflower–when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith–instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.
This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.
#2 – The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
A special edition of the poem The Hill We Climb, read at the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, on January 20, 2021
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet, at age twenty-two, to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. Her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, is now available to cherish in this special edition.
Amanda Gorman is the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. She is a committed activist who works on the local, national, and international levels to support girls’ education and empowerment. Amanda’s activism and poetry have been featured on TheToday Show, PBS Kids, and CBS This Morning, and in The New York Times, Vogue, Essence, andO, The Oprah Magazine. She is also the author of the forthcoming picture book Change Sings, illustrated by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long. After graduating from Harvard University, she now lives in Los Angeles. Please visit theamandagorman.com.
Perfect for ages 14 and up! Available April 27, 2021
#3 – Just as I Am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson
“This book is Ms. Tyson’s abundant treasure to each of us: her life, in her words, just as she is. She shares truths usually whispered between close friends in the dim light of a back bedroom, those candid declarations not often spoken aloud. And she tells her story the way only a black woman can: in all of its dazzling authenticity, heels off and voice undulating, shifting between anguish and exuberance. The art of acting is the art of exposing, an emotional unveiling before others. Ms. Tyson is as revelatory on these pages as she has been on the stage.
— Viola Davis, Academy, Tony, and Emmy award-winning actress and producer
“In her long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has not only succeeded as an actor, she has shaped the course of history.” -President Barack Obama, 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony
Just As I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” –– Cicely Tyson
#4 – A Promised Land by Barack Obama
A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making–from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy
In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency–a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.
A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective–the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.
This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.
#5 – Caste: The Origin of Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
“As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power–which groups have it and which do not.”
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people–including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others–she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day.
Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.