Books

Boston-area bookstores are sharing anti-racist reading lists. Here’s what’s on them.

“The work of anti-racism is more than just updating your reading list but asking why your reading list has always looked a certain way.”

Protesters gather in front of the Boston Police District E-13 Jamaica Plain office during a demonstration on Thursday. Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

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As thousands of people have gathered to demonstrate in Boston and across the state against police brutality and racism, independent bookstores are sharing anti-racist reading lists to help further education and change. 

Booksellers in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline have created lists with scores of titles dedicated to addressing social justice and books by Black authors, while also urging customers to support Frugal Book Store in Roxbury, the only Black-owned bookstore in Boston. 

On Twitter, Harvard Book Store emphasized that “personal bookshelves speak volumes” about the society and world both inhabited by the reader and the voices being unheard. Both reading curriculums and canons are “notoriously exclusive,” store staff emphasized.

“The reading of books is never done within a vacuum!,” Harvard Book Store staff wrote on Twitter. “Even our most mundane experiences with books—EVEN the experiences which take us out of our world entirely—still operate within a world shaped by oppression and erasure. The work of anti-racism is more than just updating your reading list but asking why your reading list has always looked a certain way. “

“Purchase, share, amplify, and celebrate the work of black authors!,” they added. “Buy from black-owned bookstores! Support the latest & greatest publications while helping restructure a culture of silence!”

Many of the lists shared by shops feature overlapping titles, and, in the last week, the bookstores said they’ve seen skyrocketing demand for the books. 

“If you’ve noticed the websites of indie bookstores being slower than usual, we want you to know that apparently Indiecommerce traffic is up 83%,” Trident Booksellers & Cafe wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. “The large majority of these orders are for antiracist books.”

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Reading a book won’t end racism; only action can effect meaningful change. But no matter where or who you are, we can all do our part to enrich our own antiracism education. To help, we’ve compiled a list of books on race and antiracism, many of which were written by Black antiracism educators (link in bio). Our booksellers are doing the work, too. Brittany is reading Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, and up next for her is Me and White Supremacy. . . . . . . . . . #antiracism #equality #BLM #blacklivesmatter #bethechange #civilrights #readersofinstagram #booksofinstagram #bookstagram #books #book #bookworm #bookish #reading #bookstagrammer #boston #independentbookstore #indiebooks #bookstores #indiebookstore

A post shared by Trident Booksellers & Cafe (@tridentbooks) on

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Below, a look at just some of the books booksellers are recommending to readers interested in educating themselves about racism and long-standing social injustices in the United States. 

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Frugal Bookstore. Boston.com regrets the error.

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