The Loyalty 100: NONFICTION

Beloved nonfiction books for everyone from the science minded, the abolitionist, music fans, and for those who just need a moving memoir. All that and more selected by the Loyalty Team's nonfiction readers!

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Against White Feminism: Notes on Disruption Cover Image
$23.95
ISBN: 9781324006619
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 17th, 2021

When we say the word feminism, we think of Susan B. Anthony and the suffragettes or rebellious women who refuse traditional gender roles. We think of western women fighting for the education of women and girls on the other side of the globe and the patriarchal systems that tear them down. Against White Feminism forces us to reevaluate what feminism really is and who it includes. Zakaria covers the long history of white women treating the women they claim to be helping like projects instead of competent people with a sense of their own needs. Every Western person who considers themself a feminist should read this book as a way to check their own activism. -- Amani


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Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780393651904
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 14th, 2021

Read Until You Understand is that one book that will forever remain in your heart and on your mind. This book centers the author Farrah and the influence that black literature and black art has had on her life. Farrah takes us through the night of her fathers death and the lack of care he received up til. Taking us down memory lane through her fathers literature lessons from the great life of Frederick Douglas to the vitalness movements of the Black Panther Party. She choreographs the perfect reading list that will remind you we need to know where we came from in order to know where we are headed. -- Chardai


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How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780316492935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - June 1st, 2021

It should come as no surprise to anyone that one of the best books, maybe the best book, of 2021 was written by a poet. A good poet is a master of language and we’ve seen time and again in recent years how they’ve managed to conquer the longer form writing of both novels and memoirs. Now, poet Clint Smith has written a beautiful new book that is a magnificent blend of memoir, essay and history lesson. There have been plenty of books that have examined the history of slavery in America and plenty of books discussing the current state of affairs with regard to how former slavery strongholds are dealing with, or more likely not dealing with, the ongoing aftermath, but few if any have gone the route of HTWIP, in which Smith combines those two elements and examines them through the lens of his own personal experience and reactions to what he encounters on his memoirish journey to uncover a true and clear look at modern America. Pick this book up and enjoy a well told story featuring lots of personal insight that is sure to both entertain and inform you. -- Gene


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On Juneteenth Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781631498831
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - May 4th, 2021

As a long-time fan of award winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed I’ve always admired her stellar research and writing style. This slim, but powerful volume includes all of the wonderful research and writing of her previous books, but it also adds an interesting new element—her own personal story. By adding a memoir element to the story, Gordon-Reed has moved to a new level of storytelling, making history very personal. I learned so much about Texas history, and Gordon-Reed is honest in revealing both the good and not so good parts of the story without having to renounce her big, Texan pride. Treat yourself to a quick read that will leave you well informed about a shadowy part of US history as well as learning more about one of the great, modern American historians. -- Gene


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We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice Cover Image
By Mariame Kaba, Tamara K. Nopper (Editor), Naomi Murakawa (Foreword by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781642595253
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Haymarket Books - February 23rd, 2021

No matter where you are in your path to understanding and advocating for prison abolition, this collection of Mariame Kaba's works serves as a guide to why and how abolition is the path forward for racial justice. The idea of defunding the police has gained so much traction in the last year, but what has been missing in the mainstream conversation is why we need a complete reimagination of our systems and community organizing, not just policy. This book is about unlearning and reexamination as much as it is about learning. Each chapter is an article or interview transcript, making the book as a whole digestable and easy to read. -- Jaclyn


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Sometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781538702741
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - August 17th, 2021

This collection will have you tripping for sure. Obsessed with romance and her place within it, little Nichole finds the music of Prince, the eyes of men, and her own identity through her teen and young adult experiences. With comedy and kindness Nichole talks herself and all of us through what it means to believe in love and yourself. — Hannah


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On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781644450628
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - September 7th, 2021

The renowned intellectual heavyweight returns to the book world with this bouyant and exhilarating collection of essays. Choosing to explore and interrogate the inner and outer workings of freedom within the realms of art, sex, drugs, and impending climate disaster, Nelson has crafted poignant, nuanced examinations of the ways in which our investment or disinvestment in our individual liberties (regardless of where we pin ourselves on the political spectrum) have disoriented our culture's ethical compass. While not necessarily offering prescriptions to solve all the issues she delves into, Nelson definitely provides illumination toward directions that are deeply nourishing, for the mind and for the heart. -- Malik


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White Magic Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781951142391
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - April 27th, 2021

The contents of this essay collection will steal your breath and have you gasping "whoa" like both the wisest and the silliest of Keanu Reeves gifs. From tracing her heritage among the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, to the construction of Seattle, the heart of Twin Peaks, and the spells we weave when the world rejects us, Washuta's essays are poetry in form and moving prose in reality. From the first essay I knew this was a must celebrate book which made it a Leap of Faith subscription selection essential for us this year and we hope you find it as necessary for you and yours. -- Hannah


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People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780393531565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 7th, 2021

This provocative title is proven true time and time again in the realms of popular and "upscale" culture. Rather than attend to vulnerable or descriminated populations we celebrate them when it is too late. With her incredible skills as a storyteller and crafter of sentences, Horn brings to light why antisemitism is on the rise when we make such gestures towards uplifiting Jewish culture and history. I found this collection moving, funny, and piercing and hope it is read as widely as possible. -- Hannah


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Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781250621733
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book - September 14th, 2021

Raw but with the refined storytelling of a commanding public speaker and leader, this memoir is both of the moment and deeply personal. Tarana Burke shares her story and the founding of #metoo. With her incredible vision and deep vulnerability you emerge from reading Unbound braver than before and as bold as Burke's own story. -- Hannah


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The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781984857705
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ten Speed Press - January 19th, 2021

I picked this up Graphic Novel to learn a little bit of the Panther backstory but to my great and pleasant surprise it provided a fantastically full histroy of the Party. And the art is wonderful and fits perfectly with the subject matter. A great addition to anyone's bookshelf. -- Gene


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Feminist AF: A Guide to Crushing Girlhood Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781324005056
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Norton Young Readers - October 5th, 2021

Written as the guide The Crunk Feminist Collective wished they themselves had as teens, this guide to feminism in our era is inclusive and forceful in its understanding of the real power of feminism for all. With personal stories, infographics, history, and a firm understanding of intersectional feminism, Feminist AF is a must have for the teens in your life and probably for you too. -- Hannah


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Crying in H Mart: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525657743
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 20th, 2021

I’m not the nonfiction expert on staff, but Michelle Zauner’s memoir resonated with me, because I too lost my mother younger than expected (the author was 25; I was 32). I feel a kinship with other motherless women, and Zauner beautifully and heartbreakingly explores the transformative nature of the “Before” and “After” of that monumental loss. Michelle writes about how losing her mother also meant losing a connection to her Korean heritage (like the foods she and her mom enjoyed together). Although it’s about grief, the book is often funny and will speak to a variety of readers: anyone who has experienced loss, Korean Americans (and more broadly first-gen children of immigrants), millennials, and memoir aficionados. -- Sandie


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You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062979933
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dey Street Books - September 14th, 2021

You Got Anything Stronger revisits the journey of Gabrielle Union in a jaw dropping deeper understanding of our favorite '90s 'black hottie'. Gabrielle Union makes you feel as though you're the person she chose to vent everything to at the local bar over double shots of tequila! She unmasked her story of how the arrival of Kaavia James came to be, a letter to her past character, Isis, and the much needed talks of suicidal thoughts. The transparency of Gabrielle Union is memorizing and as a black woman makes me feel seen and heard. A book filled with much needed joy, tears, anger, and reminder that we all have a story that deserves to be told. -- Chardai


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Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593329191
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - June 8th, 2021

Brilliant, brutal, tender. Every time I read one of Akwaeke Emezi's books, I feel my world expand and the spaces in my body unfurl just a bit more. Emezi is truly one of the most original and engaging writers of our time. It's an honor to read this stunning memoir in letters that Emezi has so graciously shared with their readers. What a gift! -- Christine


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Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781538716328
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - August 24th, 2021

Kat Chow's memoir spans the loss of her mother at a young age and the haunting that has followed her family through generations. Expressing loss on the page is an insurmountable task, but in Chow's hands the mystery of grief seems to flow and is explored in all its beauty and fathomless expanse. Whether finding home, finding purpose, or finding family, I will follow Kat Chow's story anywhere she chooses to take us. -- Hannah


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Fairest: A Memoir Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780525561323
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 8th, 2021

Meredith Talusan thoughtfully explores the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, and disability. Fairest follows Talusan’s journey as a young boy with albinism in a rural Philippine village, an immigrant in America who oftentimes passes as white, an academic at Harvard University navigating gay spaces, and her experience as a trans woman. Talusan writes with such clarity and care and brilliance, making Fairest one of my favorite memoirs ever. -- Christine


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Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9780385545686
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - April 13th, 2021

I confess that I don’t read much nonfiction, so when I find something I love I won’t stop talking about it. Empire of Pain is my nonfiction obsession of 2021. It tells the story of Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, and how that one family’s almost unbelievable selfishness and greed gave rise to the opioid epidemic in the US. Patrick Radden Keefe is a master of turning what could be dry facts and statistics into a propulsive narrative that reads almost like fiction—and the facts are so awful you wish they were fiction. A difficult but essential read, I can’t recommend Empire of Pain highly enough. -- Amy


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A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781984801197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - March 30th, 2021

This National Book Award finalist is not just well deserved, it's not enough praise. Hanif Abdurraqib has long bridged the gap between poetry, cultural criticism and the pure joy of being a fan. With this essay collection we explore the contributions of Black musicians to the American consciousness and his personal journeys with the artists that have shaped the 20th century. -- Hannah


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Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780525559597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - October 5th, 2021

Major Labels is a history of popular music in 7 genres: Rock, R & B, Country, Punk, Hip-Hop, Dance, and Pop. Journalist and music critic Kelefa Sanneh’s expertise and love for music reels the reader in and provides nuanced context for pop music in terms of race, community, and connection. Perfect for hardcore music fans, nonfiction enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to know more about the music they love (or hate) - this book is one I’ll be gifting to quite a few people on my list! -- Christine


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King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780802158055
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 5th, 2021

A no brainer for any music fan, whether you’re a seasoned BB King listener or someone who has never heard him play a single lick. Even if you don’t know the Blues from the reds or the pinks, this book is essential reading to understand the origins of a prototypically American art form. Although Riley “BB” King was not one of the earliest blues masters, his story runs through an incredibly important time period in American history, particularly African American History. King’s life began during the post slavery sharecropping time period, his career began during the segregated chitlin’ circuit years and moved through the explosion of rock and other forms of popular music and the ascendance of many fabulous Black musical artists. I defy you to read this book and not get sucked into listening to the fabulous music of BB King as well as wanting to dive head first into listening to so many of the other remarkable artists that made BB King’s professional life possible. Overall a great introduction to the Blues via the life of one of the masters as well as a fascinating side trip through a transformative social and cultural portion of the 20th Century. -- Gene


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The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781541724709
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bold Type Books - March 9th, 2021

The sciences have long claimed to be "above" or "impervious" to issues of race and class, but a simple look at who is awarded scholarships, tenure, and research positions makes such a proposition preposterous. With incredible focus, Prescod-Weinstein shows us that the cosmos is for all and that the sciences must be as wide as the possibilities of the universe if we are to truly learn from them. -- Hannah


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Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250305978
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book - June 1st, 2021

Both a story about growing up as the daughter of an imprisoned father and the story of a woman truly coming to terms with her power, this brilliant memoir will have you cheering your family, reckoning with your identity, and stunned by Ashley C. Ford's writing prowess. -- Hannah