Tag Archives: Black Voices

Book Club Spotlight – Sula

Cover of Sula by Toni Morrison: A well-dressed Black woman poses with the brim of her hat covering half of her face. She is looking off to the right with a flock of birds flying behind her in silhouette.

I believe that Toni Morrison is best read in the heat of the summer. I find her work sits with me best during extreme weather or extreme times. Her prose and unashamed depictions of Black lives always get to me, and her rhythm never falters. So when HBO announced they’re making a limited series adaptation of Morrison’s 1973 work, Sula, I figured it was a perfect time to add it to the Spotlight!

When reading Sula, we first learn about two towns on a hill—The Bottom on top and the white town below. We meet the people who came together to make the Bottom a community and have held it together since. Once the story has settled into the established Bottom, actions and judgments have taken place, and people’s livelihoods have come and gone; only then do we meet the titular Sula and her best friend/mirror Nel. Both girls are from families with deep ties in the Bottom, and are set up on entirely different tracks they have no choice but to follow. As we watch Sula and Nel grow older and split as they mature, Sula’s perception in and of the town changes. While Nel is the upstanding young wife and mother, Sula is the seductress, the rebel, and the reason for the town to unite against a common enemy. And for what end?

She had no center, no speck around which to grow.”

Toni Morrison

I adore Sula as a Book Club read; it’s hard to understate the importance of the novel as a tool of Black Feminist literary criticism and work. Described on Oprah.com as “a lyrical blend of myth and magic, as real as a history lesson, and as enchanting as a fable,” the empty spaces of the novel are where it really shines. Because of these knowledge gaps, you, the reader, are integral to the meaning-making process of Sula. In a book club, one member might read it through a cultural lens, another for the feminist or psychological themes, yet another can find interest in simply the history of the period.

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

To see more of our Black Voices collection, visit the link here.


Toni Morrison. Sula. Knopf. 1973.

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Book Club Spotlight – How to Be an Antiracist

Cover of How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Welcome to the first Book Club Spotlight of June! With Juneteenth this month, I thought we’d start by highlighting How to Be an Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Dr. Kendi is a historian, and the founding director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Having spent 45 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List, and named one of Time’s “must-read” books, How to Be an Antiracist now has two companion books: Antiracist Baby, and Be Antiracist.

Using a memoir approach, How to Be an Antiracist follows Dr. Kendi through his formative years, experiencing racism as a Black man and acting upon it himself. The narrative works as a starting point for those new to the antiracist ideology by examining ethics, intersectionality, and the history of racism/race from a first-person perspective. How to Be an Antiracist encourages its readers not just to be opposed to racism but to see how it affects every aspect of our lives and to challenge it.

“What a powerful construction race is—powerful enough to consume us. And it comes for us early.”

Ibram X. Kendi

Being only the second year that Juneteenth has been recognized as a federal holiday, discussions of race might be on your book club members’ minds. I’d recommend this for adult book groups who don’t know where to start in their discussion of race or just want to learn more about the racial system in America. Dr. Kendi leads the reader through difficult terrain in a manner accessible to the layman and ripe for discussion. His guided journal, Be Antiracist, can also help facilitate discussion amongst your members with questions such as: “Who or what scares you the most when you think about race?” and “What constitutes an American to you?”

If you’re interested in reserving this title for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here.

To see more of our Black Voices collection, visit the link here.

Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Antiracist. New York, NY: One World, 2019.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Furious Cool” by David Henry and Joe Henry

#BookFaceFriday celebrates Black History Month!

Laugh and cry with this week’s #BookFaceFriday,Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him” by David Henry and Joe Henry (Workman Publishing, 2013.) You can find this title in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries curated collection “Black Voices and Black History,” created to help users find great reads to celebrate Black History Month. Its 195 titles consist of literature, fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies, and biographies.

“Richard Pryor lives again in the pages of Furious Cool by David and Joe Henry. With heart and grace and witnessing, they show us how and why this comic and tragic genius changed the culture of this country when he could not change himself. You may be meeting or rediscovering Pryor, but he’s likely to change you, too.” ―Gloria Steinem

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive. Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 186 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 26,554 audiobooks, 32,935 eBooks, and 3,940 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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