Recommendations by Mark S

Happy Black History Month!

The theme for Black History Month this year is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day. And in honour of Black History Month, February’s category for our 2022 Reading Challenge is A book related to Black History.

Regardless of your own racial background and intersectionality, reading a diversity of voices enriches your worldview. Personally, I’m white, gay, cisgender, and male. Sometimes the authors, characters and people I read about overlap with my identity and I learn from the similarities. Other times there are differences that deepen my understanding of how everyone else experiences the world.

I read a few books written by Black authors over the winter, but my personal favourite was So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Her book is truly a gift. I highly recommend it!

It’s always the right time to celebrate Black stories and Black authors, and February is time for all of us to celebrate together. If you’re Black, I hope you get cozy with some good books and read the voices of your fellow Black folks. If you’re not Black…I hope you get cozy with some good books and read the voices of your fellow Black folks!

Last February, we received a lot of great Black History Month submissions from the community as part of the 2021 Reading Challenge. In no particular order, here are some of the books everyone has been reading.

When they call you a terrorist book jacketWhen They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free.


Punching the air book jacket cover

Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated.


Warmth of other suns book jacket coverThe Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. 


Caste: the origins of our discontents book jacket coverCaste: the origins of our discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

In this book, Isabel Wilkerson examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.


Hidden Figures book jacket coverHidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Set amid the civil rights movement, Hidden Figures is the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program.


The skin we're in book jacket coverThe Skin We're In by Desmond Cole

A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In has sparked a national conversation, influenced policy, and inspired activists.


Any known blood book jacket coverAny Known Blood by Lawrence Hill

Spanning five generations, sweeping across a century and a half of almost unknown history, this acclaimed and unexpectedly funny novel is the story of a man seeking himself in the mirror of his family's past. 


Breath, Eyes, Memory book jacket coverBreath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti--to the women who first reared her.

Policing Black lives book jacket coverPolicing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard 

Delving behind Canada's veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, Policing Black Lives traces the violent realities of anti-blackness from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond. Robyn Maynard provides readers with the first comprehensive account of nearly four hundred years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canada.