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  • Writer's pictureAshley Imanë

August Book Recs Are In!

Our staff did some reading and put together a small list of recommendations so you can replenish your shelves!

From Ash: Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

“It’s not arrogant to know what you’re good at. It’s arrogant to think you don’t need to grow.”

Ya’ll, if you’re Black and been to a PWI, read this book. If you like stories navigating relationships in a fresh and genuine way, read this book. If you need a pick-me-up after dealing with a wasteman, read this book. If you want something full of culture and connection, read this book. If you wanna read something that makes you feel Blackity Black, read this book. Just trust me and read it. This is phenomenal.

In this charming rom-com, Kiki, a sharp-tongued University radio show host of—Brown Sugar (ha ha)is determined to empower the women on campus when it comes to relationships and heartbreak. But when she kisses the newest "fuckboi" on campus, Malakai, the two begin fake relationship to save face and their reputations. But of course, there is a thin line between faux love and hate, and the two find themselves surprisingly falling in love amongst their amusing banter, despite Kiki's heart unsure of it all.

With Bolu's witty and genuine writing style, compelling narrative you can get lost in, and refreshing Black love worth routing for—you are in for a real treat.


From Dom: Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

Notes of a Native Son is a collection of 10-essays by James Baldwin that touch on various subjects, mainly about race. In remarkable detail, Baldwin walks us through particular moments in his life, visions, and problems with such a style that makes the reader feel like a fly on the wall. We, as readers, feel the tension of a young African American man as he discovers and faces the brutalities of life while providing thought-provoking insight into a world not much unlike one’s own, culturally.

In each sentence, Baldwin paints a picture that remains etched in the mind of readers nearly effortlessly.

“I saw that this had been for my ancestors and now would be for me an awful thing to live with and that the bitterness which had helped to kill my father could also kill me.” writes James Baldwin in the essay, Notes of A Native Son.

That essay, in short, serves as a meditation on how his father’s death had impacted him, and the reflections that came to be were nothing short of astounding.

Even his critiques of America were poetically sound and rang true. In The Harlem Ghetto, James Baldwin writes, “It is part of the price the Negro pays for his position in this society that, as Richard Wright points out, he is almost always acting. A Negro learns to gauge precisely what reaction the alien person facing him desires, and he produces it with disarming alertness.”

Baldwin's fantastic ability to bleed onto the open page and take the reader on an emotional journey throughout these personal essays provides powerful motives and pairs incredibly well with the 2016 documentary; I Am Not Your Negro.

For those who have not yet explored the works of Baldwin, I highly suggest starting with Notes of A Native Son. Be prepared to gnaw on the not-so-subtle realities of one of America’s prolific writers, read over his words, and maybe find such a rage inherently felt across each of his sentences.


Still not sure what to read? Here are a few more recommendations from our staff!

From Shanille: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a

new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I Stay, They Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”

From Kiki: Activism, Feminism, Politics and Parliament by Margaret Wilson

A policy-focused campaigner, reluctant to join a political tribe and uncomfortable with the combative attitudes and personal jockeying that politics seemed to entail, Wilson nevertheless rose to become the president of the Labour Party during the turbulent mid-1980s. Going on to become a central, far-sighted, occasionally controversial minister in the Clark government, Wilson held significant roles as Attorney-General and Speaker of the House.

Activism, Feminism, Politics and Parliament is a powerful analysis of political life in New Zealand over four decades. From pay equity to a home-grown Supreme Court, employment relations legislation to paid parental leave, the policies Wilson championed were based always in the long-held principles of a true conviction politician.

From Joelle: soft magic by Upile Chisala

From Malawian storyteller Upile Chisala comes a collection of poetry and prose exploring the self, joy, blackness, gender, matters of the heart, spirituality, the experience of Diaspora, and above all, how we survive.

Told in five parts, soft magic is a shared healing journey.

From Luisa: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

It's 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 percent but she can’t seem to find her own. . . until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.

Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream―all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

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