ABA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee on Books That Matter to Them

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Here is the third column in a new series from the American Booksellers Association’s Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Happy December, booksellers! This month, the committee members are excited share books with meaning — titles we feel matter very much to both us and our communities, and that we’re thankful for having in our lives. We hope you enjoy these recommendations and find it helpful as you make your way through the rest of the holiday season (or all year long).

BrocheAroe Fabian, River Dog Book Co.

There There by Tommy OrangeThere There by Tommy Orange (Cheyenne/Arapaho) (Knopf)
“Vignettes follow 12 people through time and space on their way to the Big Oakland Powwow as they struggle with identity, life, living, loving, addiction, employment, heart, soul, happiness, and everything else that makes up the complicated human story, but most especially the complicated Indian experience in America. Heartbreaking, necessary, raw, and powerful: storytelling at its finest.”

Earthly Delights (Corinna Chapman #1) by Kerry Greenwood (Poisoned Pen Press)
“Because the world needs to read and appreciate that a plus-sized baker who owns her own shop in Melbourne, Australia, can be perfectly happy with her size, incredibly satisfied with her life, and wonderfully fulfilled by her relationship with a Jewish ex-Israeli soldier-turned-private eye, her ex-drug addict apprentice, her quirky cast of friends and neighbors, and her charming cats.”

Sarah Hollenbeck, Women & Children First

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (Dial Books)
“It’s a gift to be able to put this book in the hands of young feminists and the grown-ups who are raising them. Rivera infuses intersectional feminism 101 into this sharp yet tender, big-hearted story of coming out and coming into one’s self.”

Christopher Phipps & the City Lights Bookstore staff

I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita (Coffee House Press)
“A beautiful 10th anniversary edition of an enduring classic, one that feels more relevant than ever in our troubled times.”

How to Be Less Stupid About Race by Crystal M. Fleming (Beacon Press)
“An honest and blunt take on the sensitive issue of racial politics, and you know you know someone who needs to read it.”

Melanie Knight, Books, Inc.

Hot Comb by Ebony FlowersHot Comb by Ebony Flowers (Drawn and Quarterly)
“I am thankful for this book because I could definitely relate to it since I had similar feelings about my hair, and my journey to wearing my hair natural was not an easy one. I know that a lot of people, especially if they’re not POC, don’t realize that it’s not just ‘hair’ for black women. It is an experience and a big part of my identity.”

Michelle Malonzo, Changing Hands Bookstore

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
“Artfully told, original storytelling about love, losing ourselves, and finding ourselves in the aftermath of violent heartbreak.”

Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (One World)
“Set amidst the changing landscape of Denver, this rich collection examines what it means to be Latinx, indigenous, and female. Through these stories, Farjado-Anstine writes the ‘hidden figures’ of the American West and gives a community — specifically indigenous Latinx — a space to be heard and acknowledged.”

Denise Chávez, Casa Camino Real Book Store & Art Gallery

Soñadores/Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (Neal Porter Books)
Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter by Mark Gonzales, Mehrdokht Amini (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Seven Pablos by Jorge Luján (Enchanted Lion Books)

“Working so intensely with children throughout our refugee and asylum-seeker book drive, Libros Para El Viaje/Books for the Journey, the last year and a half has given me a perspective into books that are truly authentic and speak to the core spirit of life. They are all books that enlighten, empower, and educate with grace and love.

Whether it is the story of Yuyi and her son, Kelly, migrating to the U.S. in 1994, or the loving letter of a Muslim/Latino father to his multi-racial daughter, or the story of seven different Pablos — one in Chile, one in Ecuador, and others in México, New York, Brazil, Perú, and Guatemala — each of these beautiful and powerful books shows us the sacred connections each child has to others as they find their story is not so different from others — and yet each is special and so important.”

Hannah Oliver Depp, Loyalty Bookstore

Black Is Beautiful by Kwame Brathwaite (Aperture)
“A breathtaking, gorgeous caramel book that collects together the work of a major 20th-century artist in one place. These portraits reflect the black is beautiful movement of the ’60s and ’70s, the embrace of political black power, and the striking talent of portraiture at the height of its influence, and you will feel the need for it and its influence when you read it today.”

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai (Avon)
“This book makes me so happy and I love giving it because there are not enough times brown women get to be loved wholly and including their personal and professional brilliance, and this book accomplishes that while being funny, fast-paced, and sexy (like its characters).”

Veronica Liu, Word Up Community Bookshop

Octopus Stew by Eric VelasquezOctopus Stew by Eric Velasquez (Holiday House)
“I’ve never heard my four-year-old — who laughs a lot — laugh quite as hard as he did upon the ending of Velasquez’s new picture book, Octopus Stew, which follows Ramsey and his abuela as they attempt to make pulpo guisado, and which takes a turn after the octopus captures Grandma… I could see the tension that had been building in my kid as he listened and looked at the dramatic illustrations! And when we read it together a second time, with a gatefold spread giving the book a surprise twist, he laughed all over again.”