2022 Reading List
The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less by Christine Platt
Forget the aesthetics of mainstream minimalism and discover a life of authenticity and intention with this practical guide to living with less…your way.
When Christine Platt set out on her journey to live with less, she never intended to become The Afrominimalist. She just wanted to tame the chaos in her closet! But after struggling with the austerity and whiteness of mainstream minimalism, Christine realized why minimalism often seems unattainable for so many: the emphasis on all-white, barren aesthetics distracts from the practice of living with intention. And so, she decided to do things her way by curating a life of less influenced by the African diaspora.
In The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less, Christine gets right to the heart of how childhood experiences and expectations manifest in adulthood, the delicate dance between needs and wants, and the complicated weight of familial and societal pressures. A far cry from Konmaried closets, capsule wardrobes, and conspicuous consumption, Christine’s brand of “living with less” is more than a decluttering regimen. Inspired by her personal journey, Christine presents a radical revisioning of minimalism, one that celebrates the importance of history and heritage, and gives you permission to make space for what really matters…your way.
Beautifully illustrated with original black-and-white prints and line drawings, The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less is a testament to the idea that anyone can be a minimalist and a warm invitation to a life curated with intention, perfect for readers of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists), Marie Kondo, Joshua Becker, and Courtney Carver.
Discussion Date: February 4, 2022
Race First by Tony Martin
JOIN THE GLOBAL EFFORT FOR MARCUS GARVEY’S POSTHUMOUS PARDON
A classic study of the Garvey movement, this is the most thoroughly researched book on Garvey’s ideas by a historian of Black nationalism.
This book is based on the simple premise that no one could have organized and built up the largest black mass movement in Afro-American history, in the face of continuous onslaughts from communists on the left, black reactionaries on all sides, and the most powerful governments in the world, and yet be a buffoon or a clown, or even an overwhelmingly impractical visionary.
Distortions are not new to Afro-American history, but one would be hard to find a major black figure who has suffered more at the hands of historians and commentators. This study attempts to treat Marcus Garvey and the Universal Improvement Association with the seriousness and respect which they deserve.
After a brief biographical introduction, the study examines the major features of Garvey’s ideological outlook, as they manifested themselves both in theory and practice.
“This book has the important element that is missing in most of the books and articles on Garvey – a political analysis of what the Garvey Movement was about.” (John Henrik Clarke, The Black Scholar)
Discussion Date: March 4, 2022
Cane (My Harlem Renaissance) by Jean Toomer
The Harlem Renaissance writer’s innovative and groundbreaking novel depicting African American life in the South and North, with a foreword by National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree Zinzi Clemmons
Jean Toomer’s Cane is one of the most significant works to come out of the Harlem Renaissance, and is considered to be a masterpiece in American modernist literature because of its distinct structure and style. First published in 1923 and told through a series of vignettes, Cane uses poetry, prose, and play-like dialogue to create a window into the varied lives of African Americans living in the rural South and urban North during a time when Jim Crow laws pervaded and racism reigned.
While critically acclaimed and known today as a pioneering text of the Harlem Renaissance, the book did not gain as much popularity as other works written during the period. Fellow Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes believed Cane‘s lack of a wider readership was because it didn’t reinforce the stereotypes often associated with African Americans during the time, but portrayed them in an accurate and entirely human way, breaking the mold and laying the groundwork for how African Americans are depicted in literature. For the first time in Penguin Classics, this edition of Cane features a new introduction, suggestions for further reading, and notes by scholar George Hutchinson, and National Book Award Foundation 5 Under 35 novelist Zinzi Clemmons contributes a foreword.
Discussion Date: April 1, 2022
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction || Winner of the Gotham Book Prize || One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of the Year || Oprah’s Book Club Pick || Named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and TIME MagazineA Washington Post Notable Novel
From the author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird and the bestselling modern classic The Color of Water, comes one of the most celebrated novels of the year.
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and, in front of everybody, shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.
The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.
As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.
Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.
Discussion Date: May 6, 2022
The New Negro Aesthetic: Selected Writings by Alain Locke
Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer edits a collection of Alain Locke’s influential essays on the importance of the Black artist and the Black imagination
For months, the philosopher Alain Locke wrestled with the idea of the Negro as America’s most vexing problem. He asked how shall Negroes think of themselves as he considered the new crop of poets, novelists, and short story writers who, in 1924, wrote about their experiences as Black people in America. He did not want to frame Harlem and Black writing as yet another protest against racism, nor did he want to focus on the sociological perspective on the Negro problem and Harlem as a site of crime, poverty, and dysfunction. He wanted to find new language and a new way for Black people to think of themselves.
The essays and articles collected in this volume, by Locke’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, are the result of that new attitude and the struggle to instill the New Negro aesthetics, as Stewart calls it here, into the mind of the twentieth century. To be a New Negro poet, novelist, actor, musician, dancer, or filmmaker was to commit oneself to an arc of self-discovery of what and who the Negro was–would be–without fear that one would disappoint the white or Black bystander.
In committing to that path, Locke asserted, one would uncover a being-in-the-world that was rich and bountiful in its creative possibilities, if Black people could turn off the noise of racism and see themselves for who they really are: a world of creative people who have transformed, powerfully and perpetually, the culture of wherever history or social forces landed them.
Discussion Date: June 3, 2022
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
“An epic that feels deeply personal . . . Flournoy’s finely tuned empathy infuses her characters with a radiant humanity.” — O, The Oprah Magazine
“In this assured and memorable novel, [Flournoy] provides the feeling of knowing a family from the inside out, as we would wish to know our own.” — New York Times Book Review
Meet the Turners: a big, complicated, loving, feuding, vibrant American family
There ain’t no haints in Detroit.
The Turners live on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house sees thirteen children get grown and gone and some return; it sees the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit s East Side, and the loss of a father. Despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs, the house still stands. But now, as their powerful mother falls ill and loses her independence, the Turners might lose their family home. Beset by time and a national crisis, the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called back to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts might haunt and shape their family s future.
A major new contribution to the literature on American families, The Turner House brings us a colorful brood full of love, pride, and unlikely inheritances. It s a striking examination of the American dream and a celebration of the ways in which our families bring us home.
Discussion Date: July 1, 2022
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
A searing and compassionate new novel about a young Black nurse’s shocking discovery and burning quest for justice in post-segregation Alabama, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wench.
Montgomery, Alabama, 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend intends to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she hopes to help women shape their destinies, to make their own choices for their lives and bodies.
But when her first week on the job takes her along a dusty country road to a worn-down one-room cabin, Civil is shocked to learn that her new patients, Erica and India, are children–just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica, and their family into her heart. Until one day she arrives at their door to learn the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace, and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten. That must not be forgotten.
Because history repeats what we don’t remember.
Inspired by true events and brimming with hope, Take My Hand is a stirring exploration of accountability and redemption.
Discussion Date: August 5, 2022
It Was All A Dream by Justin Tinsley
From a talented young journalist on the rise, a deeply reported, timely new biography of the Notorious B.I.G., publishing for what would have been his 50th birthday
The Notorious B.I.G. was one of the most charismatic and talented artists of the 1990s. Born Christopher Wallace and raised in Clinton Hill/Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, Biggie lived an almost archetypal rap life: young trouble, drug dealing, guns, prison, a giant hit record, the wealth and international superstardom that came with it, then an early violent death. Biggie released his first record, Ready to Die, in 1994, when he was only 22. Less than three years later, he was killed just days before the planned release of his second record Life After Death.
Journalist Justin Tinsley’s It Was All a Dream is a fresh, insightful telling of the life beyond the legend. It is based on extensive interviews with those who knew and loved Biggie, including neighbors, friends, DJs, party promoters, and journalists. And it places Biggie’s life in context, both within the history of rap but also the wider cultural and political forces that shaped him, including Caribbean immigration, the Reagan era disinvestment in public education, street life, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the booming, creative, and influential 1990s music industry. This is the story of where Biggie came from, the forces that shaped him, and the legacy he has left behind.
Discussion Date: September 2, 2022
The Binding Room by Nadine Matheson
“Matheson’s voice is exciting, urgent… and, now more than ever, vital.”–A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
Detective Anjelica Henley confronts a series of ritualistic murders in this heart-pounding thriller about race, power and the corrupt institutions that threaten us
When Detective Anjelica Henley is called to investigate the murder of a popular preacher in his own church, she discovers a second victim, tortured and tied to a bed in an upstairs room. He is alive, but barely, and his body shows signs of a dark religious ritual.
With a revolving list of suspects and the media spotlight firmly on her, Henley is left with more questions than answers as she attempts to untangle both crimes. But when another body appears, the case takes on a new urgency. Unless she can apprehend the killer, the next victim may just be Henley herself.
Both fans of The Jigsaw Man and readers coming to Matheson’s work for the first time will get swept away in this heart-pounding thriller. Drawing on her experiences as a criminal attorney, Nadine Matheson deftly explores issues of race, class and justice through an action-packed story that will hold you captive until the last terrifying page.
Discussion Date: October 7, 2022
The Movement Made Us by David J Dennis Jr
“The Movement Made Us takes literature to a momentous Southern Black space to which I honestly never thought a book could take us. This is literally the Movement that made us and both Davids love us whole here with a creation that is as ingenious as it is soulfully sincere. Stunning.”–Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
A dynamic family exchange that pivots between the voices of a father and son, The Movement Made Us is a unique work of oral history and memoir, chronicling the extraordinary story of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and its living legacy embodied in Black Lives Matter. David Dennis Sr, a core architect of the movement, speaks out for the first time, swapping recollections both harrowing and joyful with David Jr, a journalist working on the front lines of change today.
Taken together, their stories paint a critical portrait of America, casting one nation’s image through the lens of two individual Black men and their unique relationship. Playful and searching, anxious and restorative, fearless and driving, this intimate memoir features scenes from across David Sr’s life, as he becomes involved in the movement, tries to move beyond it, and ultimately returns to it to find final solace and new sense of self–revealing a survivor who travels eternally with a cabal of ghosts.
A crucial addition to Civil Rights history, The Movement Made Us is the story of a nation reckoning with change and the hopes, struggles, setbacks, and triumphs of modern Black life. This is it: the extant chronicle of why we live, why we move, and for what we are made.
Discussion Date: November 4, 2022
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
An Instant New York Times Bestseller!
Winner of the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC-Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape–until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts–and fails–to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets–and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down–or join the fight.
Discussion Date: December 2, 2022
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past–a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake.
“At turns delightfully juicy and then stunningly wise, Black Cake is a winner.”–Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising
In development as a Hulu original series produced by Marissa Jo Cerar, Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Films), and Kapital Entertainment
We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?
In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage, and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.
Discussion Date: January 6, 2022