We suggest: New(ish) nonfiction titles for February

by Collection Management Librarian Kathy

Love nonfiction? Looking for some new books? Check out these recently released titles that also happen to celebrate Black History Month. Find more titles and resources connecting you to Black history »

Recently released nonfiction

The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System edited by Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman

Why you should try it: Looking for a variety of Black experts' opinions on a variety of topics from healthcare to education to climate? Look no further than this collection of insightful essays, replete with supplemental reading options.

Description: The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System features Black voices speaking to the question "What's next?" as it pertains to centering Black people in policy matters in our country. Essayists—including Dr. Sandy Darity, Dr. Hedwig Lee, Mary Heglar, and Janelle Jones—present groundbreaking ideas ranging from Black maternal health to reparations to AI bias to inclusive economic policy, with the potential to uplift and heal not only Black America but the entire country.

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Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience & Restoration by Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts

Why you should try it: Combat the "danger of a single story" (only defining Black experience through trauma) with this collection of poetic essays celebrating joy and self-care.

Description: When Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts wrote an essay on Black joy for The Washington Post, she had no idea just how deeply it would resonate. But the outpouring of positive responses affirmed her own lived experience: that Black joy is not just a weapon of resistance; it is a tool for resilience.

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Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School by Kendra James

Why you should try it: A great choice for folks who enjoyed Lacey Lamar and Amber Ruffin's You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey for its combination of humor and social commentary.

Description: Early on in Kendra James' professional life, she began to feel like she was selling a lie. As an admissions officer specializing in diversity recruitment for independent prep schools, she persuaded students and families to embark on the same perilous journey she herself had made—to attend cutthroat and largely white schools similar to The Taft School, where she had been the first African-American legacy student only a few years earlier. Her new job forced her to reflect on her own elite education experience and to realize how disillusioned she had become with America's inequitable system.

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Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood by DaMaris B. Hill

Why you should try it: For a poetic peek into the interior lives of Black girls.

Description: At a time when Black girls across the country are increasingly vulnerable to unjust violence, unwarranted incarceration, and unnoticed disappearance, Hill chooses to celebrate and protect the girl she carries, using a narrative-in-verse style to revisit her youth.

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Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motely & the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Why you should try it: It's time for Constance Baker Motley to take up more space in civil rights and women's rights history. This biography is a great start.

Description: Born to an aspirational blue-collar family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to find herself a good career as a hairdresser. Instead, she became the first Black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten she would eventually argue. The only Black woman member in the legal team at the NAACP's Inc. Fund at the time, she defended Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, helped to argue in Brown vs. Board of Education, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South.

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Didn't We Almost Have It All: In Defense of Whitney Houston by Gerrick Kennedy

Why you should try it: A candid exploration of the cult of celebrity that created and destroyed one of the greatest singers of all time.

Description: Drawing on hundreds of sources, Kennedy takes readers back to a world in which someone like Whitney simply could not be, and explains in excruciating detail the ways in which her fame did not and could not protect her. In the time since her passing, the world and the way we view celebrity have changed dramatically. A sweeping look at Whitney's life, Didn't We Almost Have It All contextualizes her struggles against the backdrop of tabloid culture, audience consumption, mental health stigmas, and racial divisions in America. It explores exactly how and why we lost a beloved icon far too soon.

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Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness by Laura Gayle Coates

Why you should try it: Coates' exploration into the inequities of the justice system is both personal and polemic.

Description: When Laura Coates joined the Department of Justice as a prosecutor, she wanted to advocate for the most vulnerable among us. But she quickly realized that even with the best intentions, "the pursuit of justice creates injustice." Through Coates's experiences, we see that no matter how fair you try to fight, being Black, a woman, and a mother are identities often at odds in the justice system.

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Self-Care for Black Women by Oludara Adeeyo

Why you should try it: This practical guide includes specific exercises for prioritizing and practicing self-care.

Description: Prioritize your wellbeing with these 150 self-care exercises designed specifically to help Black women revitalize their outlook on life, improve their mental health, eliminate stress, and self-advocate.

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Librarian Kathy

About Kathy

Kathy is a Collection Management Librarian who loves reading, sharing, and talking about books. Her missions in life are to: create communities of readers, convince folks that her official title should be "Book Pusher," and refute that "disco" is a dirty word.