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Antiracist Reading

Books on race and antiracism, including fiction and non-fiction titles for readers of all ages.


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An Orchestra of Minorities

- by Chigozie Obioma

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A heartbreaking story about a Nigerian poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves, by Man Booker Finalist and author of The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma.

"It is more than a superb and tragic novel; it's a historical treasure."-Boston Globe

Set on the outskirts of Umuahia, Nigeria and narrated by a chi, or guardian spirit, An Orchestra of Minorities tells the story of Chinonso, a young poultry farmer whose soul is ignited when he sees a woman attempting to jump from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his prized chickens into the water below to express the severity of such a fall. The woman, Ndali, is stopped her in her tracks.

Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family and struggles to imagine a future near a chicken coop. When her family objects to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells most of his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But when he arrives he discovers there is no place at the school for him, and that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements... Penniless, homeless, and furious at a world which continues to relegate him to the sidelines, Chinonso gets further away from his dream, from Ndali and the farm he called home.

Spanning continents, traversing the earth and cosmic spaces, and told by a narrator who has lived for hundreds of years, the novel is a contemporary twist of Homer's Odyssey. Written in the mythic style of the Igbo literary tradition, Chigozie Obioma weaves a heart-wrenching epic about destiny and determination.

American Marriage, An

- by Tayari Jones

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One of the most anticipated novels of 2018 according to Entertainment Weekly * Goodreads * Esquire * Elle * Cosmopolitan *BBC * Huffington Post * Bustle * Southern Living * Newsday * Bookish * Nylon * iBooks Store

"Transcendent . . . Triumphant . . . Gorgeous."--Elle

"A stunning epic love story . . . An exquisite, timely, and powerful novel that feels both urgent and indispensable."--Edwidge Danticat

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy's time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
 
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward--with hope and pain--into the future.

Real Life

- by Brandon Taylor

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A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award 
 
"A blistering coming of age story" --O: The Oprah Magazine


Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, New York Public Library, Vanity Fair, Elle, NPR, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Harper's BazaarFinancial Times, Huffington Post, BBC, Shondaland, Barnes & Noble, VultureThrillist, Vice, Self, Electric Literature, and Shelf Awareness

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.

Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends--some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.  
 
Real Life is a novel of profound and lacerating power, a story that asks if it's ever really possible to overcome our private wounds, and at what cost.

Hunger

- by Roxane Gay

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.

"I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe."

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as "wildly undisciplined," Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past--including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life--and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved--in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

The Gospel of Breaking

- by Jillian Christmas

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In The Gospel of Breaking, Jillian Christmas confirms what followers of her performance and artistic curation have long known: there is magic in her words. Befitting someone who "speaks things into being," Christmas extracts from family history, queer lineage, and the political landscape of a racialized life to create a rich, softly defiant collection of poems. Christmas draws a circle around the things she calls "holy": the family line that cannot find its root but survived to fill the skies with radiant flesh; the body, broken and unbroken and broken and new again; the lover lost, the friend lost, and the loss itself; and the hands that hold them all with brilliant, tender care. Expansive and beautiful, these poems allow readers to swim in Jillian Christmas's mother-tongue and to dream at her shores.

Stay with Me

- by Ayobami Adebayo

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"Powerfully magnetic. . . . In the lineage of great works by Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. . . . A thoroughly contemporary--and deeply moving--portrait of a marriage." --The New York Times Book Review
 
Ilesa, Nigeria. Ever since they first met and fell in love at university, Yejide and Akin have agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage--after consulting fertility doctors and healers, and trying strange teas and unlikely cures--Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time--until her in-laws arrive on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does--but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine.
 
The unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.
 
New York Times Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, The Wall Street JournalThe EconomistChicago TribuneBuzzFeedEntertainment Weekly, The New York Post, Southern Living, The Skimm

A 2017 BEA Buzz Panel Selection

A Belletrist Book-of-the-Month

A Sarah Jessica Parker Book Club Selection
 
Shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
 
Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize and the 9mobile Prize for Literature

Longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize

American Spy

- by Lauren Wilkinson

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"American Spy updates the espionage thriller with blazing originality."--Entertainment Weekly
"There has never been anything like it."--Marlon James, GQ
"So much fun . . . Like the best of John le Carré, it's extremely tough to put down."--NPR

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review Time o NPR o Entertainment WeeklyEsquire o BuzzFeedVulture o Real SimpleGood Housekeeping o The New York Public Library

What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love? 


It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant, but she's also a young black woman working in an old boys' club. Her career has stalled out, she's overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she's given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Sankara is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career path in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she's being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Sankara, seduce him, and ultimately have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.

Inspired by true events--Thomas Sankara is known as "Africa's Che Guevara"--American Spy knits together a gripping spy thriller, a heartbreaking family drama, and a passionate romance. This is a face of the Cold War you've never seen before, and it introduces a powerful new literary voice.

NOMINATED FOR THE NAACP IMAGE AWARD o Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize


"Spy fiction plus allegory, and a splash of pan-Africanism. What could go wrong? As it happens, very little. Clever, bracing, darkly funny, and really, really good."--Ta-Nehisi Coates

"Inspired by real events, this espionage thriller ticks all the right boxes, delivering a sexually charged interrogation of both politics and race."--Esquire

"Echoing the stoic cynicism of Hurston and Ellison, and the verve of Conan Doyle, American Spy lays our complicities--political, racial, and sexual--bare. Packed with unforgettable characters, it's a stunning book, timely as it is timeless."--Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prizewinning author of The Sellout

Wow, No Thank You.

- by Samantha Irby

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***Winner of 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction***

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o From Samantha Irby, beloved author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, a rip-roaring, edgy and unabashedly raunchy new collection of hilarious essays.

"Stay-up-all-night, miss-your-subway-stop, spit-out-your-beverage funny.... irresistible as a snack tray, as intimately pleasurable as an Irish goodbye."
--Jia Tolentino

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with "tv executives slash amateur astrologers" while being a "cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person," "with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees," who still hides past due bills under her pillow.

The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby's new life. Wow, No Thank You. is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable.

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments

- by Saidiya Hartman

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A breathtaking exploration of the lives of young black women in the early twentieth century.
In Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Saidiya Hartman examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. Free love, common-law and transient marriages, serial partners, cohabitation outside of wedlock, queer relations, and single motherhood were among the sweeping changes that altered the character of everyday life and challenged traditional Victorian beliefs about courtship, love, and marriage. Hartman narrates the story of this radical social transformation against the grain of the prevailing century-old argument about the crisis of the black family. In wrestling with the question of what a free life is, many young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship that were indifferent to the dictates of respectability and outside the bounds of law. They cleaved to and cast off lovers, exchanged sex to subsist, and revised the meaning of marriage. Longing and desire fueled their experiments in how to live. They refused to labor like slaves or to accept degrading conditions of work. Beautifully written and deeply researched, Wayward Lives recreates the experience of young urban black women who desired an existence qualitatively different than the one that had been scripted for them--domestic service, second-class citizenship, and respectable poverty--and whose intimate revolution was apprehended as crime and pathology. For the first time, young black women are credited with shaping a cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape. Through a melding of history and literary imagination, Wayward Lives recovers their radical aspirations and insurgent desires.

Brown

- by Kamal Al-solaylee

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Winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-fiction and the Trillium Book Award

A Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Life, Walrus, CBC Books, Chatelaine, Hill Times, 49th Shelf and Writers' Trust Best Book of the Year

With the urgency and passion of Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me), the seductive storytelling of J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy) and the historical rigour of Carol Anderson (White Rage), Kamal Al-Solaylee explores the in-between space that brown people occupy in today's world: on the cusp of whiteness and the edge of blackness. Brown proposes a cohesive racial identity and politics for the millions of people from the Global South and provides a timely context for the frictions and anxieties around immigration and multiculturalism that have led to the rise of populist movements in Europe and the election of Donald Trump.

At once personal and global, Brown is packed with storytelling and on-the-street reporting conducted over two years in ten countries on four continents that reveals a multitude of lives and stories from destinations as far apart as the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, the United States, Britain, Trinidad, France, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Qatar and Canada. It features striking research about the emergence of brown as the colour of cheap labor and the pursuit of a lighter skin tone as a global status symbol. As he studies the significance of brown skin for people from North Africa and the Middle East, Mexico and Central America, and South and East Asia, Al-Solaylee also reflects on his own identity and experiences as a brown-skinned person (in his case from Yemen) who grew up with images of whiteness as the only indicators of beauty and success.

This is a daring and politically resonant work that challenges our assumptions about race, immigration and globalism and recounts the heartbreaking stories of the people caught in the middle.

 

Stamped from the Beginning

- by Ibram X. Kendi

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The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society.

Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America -- it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.

As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.

In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

This Book Is Anti-Racist

- by Tiffany Jewell

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Recommended by Oprah's Book Club, ESSENCE, We Need Diverse Books, ellentube, Brit + Co, PureWow, Teen Vogue, Time, New York, USA TODAY, and TODAY.com

Also available: This Book Is Anti-Racist Journal, a guided journal with more than 50 activities to support your anti-racism journey



Who are you? What is racism? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? What can you do to disrupt it? Learn about social identities, the history of racism and resistance against it, and how you can use your anti-racist lens and voice to move the world toward equity and liberation.

"In a racist society, it's not enough to be non-racist--we must be ANTI-RACIST." --Angela Davis

Gain a deeper understanding of your anti-racist self as you progress through 20 chapters that spark introspection, reveal the origins of racism that we are still experiencing, and give you the courage and power to undo it. Each lesson builds on the previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression. An activity at the end of every chapter gets you thinking and helps you grow with the knowledge. All you need is a pen and paper.

Author Tiffany Jewell, an anti-bias, anti-racist educator and activist, builds solidarity beginning with the language she chooses--using gender neutral words to honor everyone who reads the book. Illustrator Aurélia Durand brings the stories and characters to life with kaleidoscopic vibrancy.

After examining the concepts of social identity, race, ethnicity, and racism, learn about some of the ways people of different races have been oppressed, from indigenous Americans and Australians being sent to boarding school to be "civilized" to a generation of Caribbean immigrants once welcomed to the UK being threatened with deportation by strict immigration laws.

Find hope in stories of strength, love, joy, and revolution that are part of our history, too, with such figures as the former slave Toussaint Louverture, who led a rebellion against white planters that eventually led to Haiti's independence, and Yuri Kochiyama, who, after spending time in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during WWII, dedicated her life to supporting political prisoners and advocating reparations for those wrongfully interned.

Learn language and phrases to interrupt and disrupt racism. So, when you hear a microaggression or racial slur, you'll know how to act next time.

This book is written for EVERYONE who lives in this racialized society--including the young person who doesn't know how to speak up to the racist adults in their life, the kid who has lost themself at times trying to fit into the dominant culture, the children who have been harmed (physically and emotionally) because no one stood up for them or they couldn't stand up for themselves, and also for their families, teachers, and administrators.

With this book, be empowered to actively defy racism and xenophobia to create a community (large and small) that truly honors everyone.

BlackLife

- by Rinaldo Walcott

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What does it mean in the era of Black Lives Matter to continue to ignore and deny the violence that is the foundation of the Canadian nation state? BlackLife discloses the ongoing destruction of Black people as enacted not simply by state structures, but beneath them in the foundational modernist ideology that underlies thinking around migration and movement, as Black erasure and death are unveiled as horrifically acceptable throughout western culture. With exactitude and celerity, Idil Abdillahi and Rinaldo Walcott pull from local history, literature, theory, music, and public policy around everything from arts funding, to crime and mental health--presenting a convincing call to challenge pervasive thought on dominant culture's conception of Black personhood. They argue that artists, theorists, activists, and scholars offer us the opportunity to rethink and expose flawed thought, providing us new avenues into potential new lives and a more livable reality of BlackLife.

A Map to the Door of No Return

- by Dionne Brand

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A Map to the Door of No Return is a timely book that explores the relevance and nature of identity and belonging in a culturally diverse and rapidly changing world. It is an insightful, sensitive and poetic book of discovery.

Drawing on cartography, travels, narratives of childhood in the Caribbean, journeys across the Canadian landscape, African ancestry, histories, politics, philosophies and literature, Dionne Brand sketches the shifting borders of home and nation, the connection to place in Canada and the world beyond.

The title, A Map to the Door of No Return, refers to both a place in imagination and a point in history -- the Middle Passage. The quest for identity and place has profound meaning and resonance in an age of heterogenous identities.

In this exquisitely written and thought-provoking new work, Dionne Brand creates a map of her own art.

From the Ashes

- by Jesse Thistle

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*#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
*Winner, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Nonfiction
*Winner, Indigenous Voices Awards

*Winner, High Plains Book Awards
*Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
*A Globe and Mail Book of the Year
*An Indigo Book of the Year
*A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year


In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute...then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse's drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education--and newfound love--he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.

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