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The NYPL recommends 95 books on Black liberation to read right now

The Schomburg Center recommends these books to foster a better understanding of the Black experience.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

New Yorkers are hungry for knowledge.

According to the New York Public Library, the 10 e-books with the highest percentage increase in holds at NYPL at the moment are all focused on issues of race.

Seeing that people are looking for these books amid Black Lives Matter protests across the globe, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—which is part of the NYPL and one of the world's premier cultural institutions and research libraries dedicated to preserving and sharing the Black experience—released a list of 95 "black liberation" books that its staff and curators believe celebrate and foster a better understanding of the Black experience.

They chose 95 books to mark the Center's 95th anniversary.

The Schomburg Center is a research division of the NYPL and has been utilized over the last two weeks by New Yorkers trying to learn more about the history of racial injustice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.

"We love that people have shown us how much they want these books in their lives," Rio Cortez, manager of the Schomburg Shop, said. "These are the titles we offer year-round in our Harlem store, and not having access to that space during the pandemic has been tough for our community, and for us. We are so grateful for the support we have seen in our online shop, and grateful to continue to connect books and readers. Each sale goes to support the work we do here at the Schomburg Center, and this support has been meaningful for us."

The list, which features nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography, essays, memoir, and scholarly works, includes works by Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Roxane Gay, Isabel Wilkerson, Zadie Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Tracy K. Smith, and Colson Whitehead, among many others.

You'll find classics like The Bluest Eye and A Raisin in the Sun, university press publications, and 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners such as Colson Whitehead’s novel, The Nickel Boys, and Jericho Brown’s poetry winner The Tradition.

It also includes James Baldwin’s 1963 book, The Fire Next Time, and the 2016 collection of essays edited by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, showing how voices have changed (or not changed) over time.

Nearly all of the books on the list can be borrowed in e-format for free via NYPL's e-collections, such as the Library's e-reader SimplyE app.

The Schomburg Center also has many other resources to support those looking to learn more:

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