Bryan Uecker from The Book Nook & Java Shop shares book ideas for all ages.

Adult Fiction – Book Club Book: Hight Cotton by Darryl Pinckney

No one sat me down and told me I was a Negro. That was something I figured out on the sly...

So begins acclaimed critic and novelist Darryl Pinckney’s debut novel, High Cotton, an elegant and insightful look into the world of upper-middle-class black elite, or, in a term popularized by W. E. B. Du Bois, “the talented tenth.” The story follows an unnamed narrator as he moves from his safe childhood in conservative Indianapolis to a brief tenure as minister of information for a local radical organization, to eventually settling into the life as an expatriate in Paris. Through it all, his imagination is increasingly dominated by his elderly African American relations and the lessons of their experiences in the “Old Country” of the South.

Adult Nonfiction: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

Local Adult Fiction: The Book of Wonders by Douglas Trevor

A lonely female accountant falls for a man who seems to have stepped out of a Greek myth; a scholar uncovers a lost Shakespearean couplet and decides to quit academia; a celebrated author experiments with downloading a story from her brain and uploading it to another. In these and other stories, Douglas Trevor explores situations—both unsettling and comic—in which people lose their bearings, reinvent themselves, and resolve, sometimes haplessly, to make sense of their lives. Characters are kidnapped by teenagers; they are bitten by raccoons. Some of them go on Prozac; while others rely on bowling to persevere. Running through these nine stories is the ghostly, and at times material, presence of books themselves. What does it mean to turn to books for comfort? Or to uncover the ways in which the stories we absorb and revisit not only open up worlds but also close them off? In a variety of moods and settings, The Book of Wonders reminds us not only of the struggle to connect, but also of what the most unlikely of people may realize they share.

Young Adult: The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Children: Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison

This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.

Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn't always accept them.

The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

More information on all of these books can be found at:

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