What to Read this Month: June 2020

Normally we highlight books from our New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections for this monthly post, but this month we will be showcasing books from our Overdrive. Please read this recent blog post to learn more about Overdrive, and also make sure to check out Durham County Public Library’s Overdrive collection!

In light of recent news, this month’s books highlight the Black experience and Black excellence. If you are interested in further readings about structural racism and its effects, here are several recent lists to explore: The Anti-Racist Reading List10 Books About Race To Read Instead Of Asking A Person Of Color To Explain Things To You, and Readings on Racism, White Supremacy, and Police Violence in America.


When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele. From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic audiobook memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse Cullors’ story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.


Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, a two-time National Book Award winner and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing. She delivers a gritty but tender novel about family and poverty in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry.


Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi. Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. Contributors include Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Dhonielle Clayton, Kekla Magoon, Leah Henderson, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, and Lamar Giles.


Thick And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. This “transgressive, provocative, and brilliant” (Roxane Gay) collection cements McMillan Cottom’s position as a public thinker capable of shedding new light on what the “personal essay” can do. She turns her chosen form into a showcase for her critical dexterity, investigating everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies. Collected in an indispensable volume that speaks to the everywoman and the erudite alike, these unforgettable essays never fail to be “painfully honest and gloriously affirming” and hold “a mirror to your soul and to that of America” (Dorothy Roberts).


Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom, Jr. Leslie Odom. Jr. burst on the scene in 2015, originating the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical phenomenon Hamilton. Since then, he has performed for sold-out audiences, sung for the Obamas at the White House, and won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. But before he landed the role of a lifetime in one of the biggest musicals of all time, Odom put in years of hard work as a singer and an actor. These stories will inspire you, motivate you, and empower you for the greatness that lies ahead, whether you’re graduating from college, starting a new job, or just looking to live each day to the fullest.


How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones. Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.

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