Jun 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

America's must reads: The nation studies its flaws

Mike Allen
A statue of Christopher Columbus was found beheaded yesterday in Boston's North End. Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Authors and publishers eagerly await each Wednesday's advance look at the weekly New York Times bestseller list. The list for June 21, which dropped yesterday, is a vivid new snapshot of an America where race is suddenly at the center of the conversation.

Why it matters: Amid a pandemic where African Americans are suffering disproportionately, and a global eruption following the death of George Floyd, the culture is now alive with fresh voices.

Check out the top 10 entries on the Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction list:

  1. "White Fragility," by Robin DiAngelo.
  2. "So You Want to Talk About Race," by Ijeoma Oluo.
  3. "How to Be an Antiracist," by Ibram X. Kendi.
  4. "Me and White Supremacy," by Layla F. Saad.
  5. "The New Jim Crow," by Michelle Alexander.
  6. "The Color of Law," by Richard Rothstein.
  7. "Between the World and Me," by Ta-Nehisi Coates: "A meditation on race in America."
  8. "Untamed," by Glennon Doyle: "The activist and public speaker describes her journey of listening to her inner voice."
  9. "Stamped from the Beginning," by Ibram X. Kendi: "[A]nti-black racist ideas and their effect on the course of American history."
  10. "Just Mercy," by Bryan Stevenson: "[D]ecades of work to free innocent people condemned to death."
  • And at No. 11: "Becoming," by Michelle Obama.

The Times' Paperback Nonfiction list opens with six of the titles above, then picks up with:

  • 7. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Tatum: "The president emerita of Spelman College examines whether self-segregation is a problem or a coping strategy."
  • 8. "Born a Crime," by Trevor Noah: "A memoir about growing up biracial in apartheid South Africa by the host of 'The Daily Show.'"
  • 9. "Raising White Kids," by Jennifer Harvey.
  • 10. "White Rage," by Carol Anderson.

Topping the Hardcover Fiction list in its debut week is "The Vanishing Half," by Brit Bennett:

  • "The lives of twin sisters who run away from a Southern black community at age 16 diverge as one returns and the other takes on a different racial identity but their fates intertwine."

And No. 1 on the Young Adult Hardcover list:

  • "The Hate U Give," by Angie Thomas: "A 16-year-old girl sees a police officer kill her friend" — on the list for 171 weeks.
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