I am the Marketing & Publicity Manager here at Left Bank. Coming from the nonprofit and racial justice world, I read a ton of nonfiction about race--justice, intergroup relations, implicit bias, race and social issues, etc. In nonfiction, I also get interested in women's issues and religion/theology. My original loves were in literary fiction, though: Southern literature, African American literature, Caribbean, Irish, Native American, Austrian.... all sorts connected to cultures around the globe. Favorite authors: William Faulkner, Jeanette Winterson, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Rainer Maria Rilke. Favorite animal: my cat, Celia.
LIke your best friend telling it to you straight, because she knows there is better living for you out there. Jones is honest, funny, loving, and challenging, because she wants the best for you and for the world.
Well-researched, eye-opening, excellent. I recommend "The Broken Heart of America" especially to St. Louisans, but really to anyone who wants to better understand the history of racism and colonialism in the United States. Johnson's deep-dive is essentially a "people's history" of the United States using St. Louis as a (very poignant) case study.
A MUST READ! "The New Jim Crow" is essential reading for US History, racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, and any real understanding of our country. Learn the critical history of how slavery morphed into segregation, which morphed into mass incarceration. If we have any hope of building racial equity in the US, we must face the reality Michelle Alexander reveals in this text.
(This book cannot be returned.)
Most people in the US, especially White folks, were not taught the dark truths about racism and structural inequality in our society, country, or world. Part of doing our work to unlearn racism is learning the truth. "A People's History of the United States" is a good place to start. It was admittedly emotionally hard to read, but the truth is important to acknowledge and know. I recommend fighting your way through the hard parts. Howard Zinn, for example, doesn't tell the story of Columbus as a hero who "discovered America"--no, there were humans here before him, and Columbus was actually the perpetrator of genocide and many atrocities that our history books failed to teach us. Learn the truth!
Andrea Boyles does a deep ethnographic study of Meacham Park and Kirkwood, neighborhoods just outside the city of St. Louis. She looks at the history of Meacham Park, an historically Black neighborhood, and how it was annexed into Kirkwood, a mostly White suburb. The annexation took place after some shady dealings and led to half of Meacham Park being demolished and replaced with a shopping center, among other tragedies. There's been a lot of research on urban policing in Black communities, but Boyles was interested in what policing of Black communities looks like in a suburban context. Really insightful and interesting.
Heartbreaking, beautiful, relevant, and true. Toni Morrison is a must.
Foundational philosophical work around race in America. Read it.
A queer, feminist, Black woman's experience growing up in America in mostly urban settings in the mid-20th century. Beautiful, honest writing, as only Audre Lorde can do. Important reading.
Damon Young began writing as a pop-culture blogger, but this memoir shares his experience growing up Black in Pittsburgh. He illustrates how living as a Black man in America can create neurosis, because one never knows if someone is interacting with you a certain way because you are Black or just because they're having a bad day. An amazing, deep, funny, contemporary account of what Black experience can be like in the United States.
Jenny Lawson is so good at being vulnerable, funny, profound, and totally weird all at the same time. In "Broken," she shares her tumultuous journey with mental illness in a way that is relatable and heart-warming, spattered with hilarious tangents that show how joy intersects even the most difficult times.