I hope when you look at this list of writers, thinkers, organizers, you discover ideas, truths, love, and tools to initiate conversations within yourself, with others. I hope any or all of these books can be a conduit to new knowledge, or at the very least, a way to understand our world as we find it now, and start reimagining a world that we want to work for instead.
1. Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.
2. Mucus in My Pineal Gland by Juliana Huxtable
The debut collection of artist and writer Juliana Huxtable. Gathering for the first time, poems, performance scripts, and essays, this startling new book expands Huxtable’s critique of gender, sexuality, politics, whiteness, and history while establishing her as a singular poetic voice.
3. Cruising Utopia by Jose Esteban Muñoz
Cruising Utopia arrived in 2009 to insist that queerness must be reimagined as a futurity-bound phenomenon, an insistence on the potentiality of another world that would crack open the pragmatic present. Part manifesto, part love-letter to the past and the future, José Esteban Muñoz argued that the here and now were not enough and issued an urgent call for the revivification of the queer political imagination.
4. Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman
Beautifully written and deeply researched, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. In wrestling with the question of what a free life is, many young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability and outside the bounds of law.
5. No Roses from My Mouth: Poems from Prison by Dr. Stella Nyanzi
Stella Nyanzi was arrested on November 2, 2018 for posting a poem on Facebook that was said to cyber-harras the long-serving President of Uganda, Mr. Yoweri Museveni. She was convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in jail. At the date of publishing this poetry collection, Nyanzi remains incarcerated. She wrote all the poems in this collection during her detention. This arguably makes her the first Ugandan prison writer to publish a poetry collection written in jail while still incarcerated.
6. The Works of Octavia Butler
"[Her] evocative, often troubling, novels explore far-reaching issues of race, sex, power and, ultimately, what it means to be human."- New York Times
7. Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa
In this unsettling exploration of the alienating and simultaneously liberating power of love, the bookseller’s monotonous existence is rocked by the enigmatic Severina. As in a dream, the disoriented man finds that the thin border between rational and irrational is no longer reliable. Severina confirms Rey Rosa’s privileged place in contemporary world literature.
8. Whereas by Layli Long Soldier
Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations.
9. Postcolonial Melancholia by Paul Gilroy
This book adapts the concept of melancholia from its Freudian origins and applies it not to individual grief but to the social pathology of neoimperialist politics. The melancholic reactions that have obstructed the process of working through the legacy of colonialism are implicated not only in hostility and violence directed at blacks, immigrants, and aliens but in an inability to value the ordinary, unruly multiculture that has evolved organically and unnoticed in urban centers.
10. The Great Camouflage: Writings of Dissent by Suzanne Césaire
Césaire engages anthropology, esthetics, surrealism, history, and poetry as she grapples with questions of power and deception, self-deception, the economic slipknot of a post-slavery debt system, identity and inauthenticity, bad faith, psychological and affective aberration, and cultural zombification.