The Root’s Summer Reading List

Hey, you on that beach chair. You really don’t want to miss these books about the black experience, and now is the perfect time to catch up.

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Who says summer reading has to be fluff? There are so many recent titles and reprinted standouts tackling the black experience—in poetry, biography and works of fiction—that even the most voracious readers can barely keep up. Pack one of these to turn a trip to the pool into an inspiring escape, and get your sun with a side of substance. There are more where these came from, but this list will have you on track to read one a week between now and the end of beach season.

1. Book of Hours, by Kevin Young (Knopf)

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Knopf

2. Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson, by Barbara Ransby (Yale University Press)

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Yale University Press

3. Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II, by Farah Jasmine Griffin (Basic Civitas Books)

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Basic Civitas Books

4. The Cutting Season, by Attica Locke (Harper Perennial)

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Harper Perennial

5. Men We Reapedby Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury USA) 

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Bloomsbury USA

6. Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf)

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Knopf

7. Stokely: A Life, by Peniel E. Joseph (Basic Civitas Books)

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Basic Civitas Books

8Adé: A Love Story, by Rebecca Walker (Little A/New Harvest)

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Little A/New Harvest

9. This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education​, by José Vilson (Haymarket Books)

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Haymarket Books

10. Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, by Bruce Watson (Penguin)

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Penguin

11. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson (Vintage)

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Vintage

12. Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Penguin Classics)

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Penguin Classics