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I suspect that no historian would be surprised that, in the middle of a society up-ending pandemic, the other social issues that many either 1) refuse to acknowledge, or 2) live with on a daily basis, would step to the front of the stage. With a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, increased tensions and violence, and a renewed call to action for social recalibration, it is no surprise that the most in-demand books over the past month would be ones focusing on BIPOC topics and authors.

 

Increasingly, libraries have been reaching out to us to reevaluate their ARPs, in light of budget changes due to COVID. A positive result of this is some libraries have asked for their ARPs to be reconfigured to include more diversity. This is great to see, and highly recommended by us. The below examples are just the tip of the iceberg. And, the more demand there is on titles like this, the more publishers will put out, giving more amplification to unheard voices.

 

LSC uses Book Manager, a database publishers, vendors, and book sellers use to keep the thousands and thousands of titles published straight. In turn, Book Manager provides some data, like title demand. In doing their regular checks and in building lists like our Pride 2020, Black Lives Matter, and Indigenous Fall 2020 lists, our selectors noticed that of the 30 most in-demand titles over the summer so far, the majority of them were by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour creators, or on subjects related to racism and inequality. Those titles are listed below, and for your convienance in Slist 43685.

 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. The Daily Show host’s memoir of growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid. Noah describes his childhood as a living crime, due to the illegality of mixed raced couples (like his white Swiss father and Black mother) having children.

 

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About RaceWhy I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. A study and critic of racism and Black history from a British perspective, and a primer on the connections between race, class, and oppression.

 

A Mind Spread out on the GroundA Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott. Part history, part memoir, Elliott uses her own experiences to draw out the issues of intergenerational trauma from colonization. Making connections between depression and mental illness, loss of language and culture, poverty, sexual assault, representation, and more in the context of how Native Americas have been treated since the arrival of Europeans to the modern day.

 

Between the World and Me Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, this arresting history of the Black experience in America is told via a letter to the author’s infant son, laying out his thesis that white supremacy in America is indestructible. Only through knowing the complete history of Black Americans struggle, can the struggle continue in the modern day.

 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the BeginningStamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. This edition of Stamped is a remix of the original “Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America”, which studied five historical figures and how their lives were affected by racist ideas. The new version is less history, and more origins of, and tools for combating, anti-Black and racist ideas for a younger audience.

 

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The story of a teenage Black girl who attends a predominantly white school, and witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend. As relevant today as the day it was published. Also available as a feature film.

 

Girl, Woman, OtherGirl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, following the lives of 12 mostly Black female characters, and explores how race, sexuality, gender, history and economic stratification define their experiences.

 

From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle. A Canada Reads contender for 2020, this biography relates Thistle’s time in the foster care system, succumbing to the drug and alcohol addictions that plagued his father, and his decade of homelessness.

 

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph. Canadian students learn woefully little about Indigenous First Nations peoples in school, and books like this seek to educate everyone on the ignored aspects of our colonial country. Beginning as a blog post in 2015 and later corporate training workshops, the book intends to fill in the gaps of knowledge most people have relating to Indigenous history and treatment in Canada.

 

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the PresentPolicing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard. When the BLM protests started again, there were cries that “there isn’t racism in Canada”, which the last few weeks have disproven in startling clarity. Maynard provides “the first comprehensive account of over four hundred years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canada”. The book looks at the history of slavery and racism in Canada, and the modern effects and active examples of oppression, racial profiling, and violence.

 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of PlantsBraiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This botanical guide blends Native American traditions with Western science, while also sharing the author’s own experiences of reuniting with her own people's traditions.

 

So You Want to Talk About RaceSo You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. This book covers the difficulty of confronting the systemic racism that pervades North American culture. Meant as a guide for all races to model and provoke conversations about race and racism with one another.

 

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good AncestorMe and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F Saad. In the vein of diet and self-help books, this book expands on an original workbook with historical contexts, and issues a month long challenge to readers to help understanding their white privilege and participation in white supremacy. Through recognition, they can take steps to stop being (intentionally or unintentionally) racist.

 

The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and PowerThe Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole. Based on a 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, the book follows the author for one year, 2017, and chronicles both his lived experiences of racism that happen daily, and also larger events such as his firing and arrest for protesting race-based police discrimination and brutality in Toronto. The book is a monthly high definition image of the systemic racism in Canada’s largest city, and culture in general.

 

How to Be an AntiracistHow to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. A memoir of the author’s own “awakening to antiracism” while examining the systemic roots of racism in North American culture. A contextualization of the everyday beliefs and policies that are guided by oppression, and a guide on how the reader can elevate themselves out of simple awareness and into action.

 

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About RacismWhite Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. This book stresses the cultural protections and securities that have been put in place for white people to feel comfortable and safe, while oppressing and dominating other races. White Fragility as a concept explores the moment that a white person feels the stresses of a racist society turned back upon them, and they react defensively.

 

Interestingly, none of these titles are "new" releases. Many are several years old. This types of material has been available for some time, and yet it is only after major events like the past months that the demand increases. This is a good opportunity to remember that the concept of a Bestseller is not set in stone. The only reason we call certain books “best sellers” is past performance. Really, the industry term “best seller” is just inertia.

 

Anything can be a best seller. How many times in this industry does author go from completely unknown to overnight sensation with a movie and three-book deal? It can happen to anyone at any time. It is within our power to make whomever we want a best seller. So why not do your part, help authors like these become best sellers, and to open up wider perspectives and new conversations within our communities. Representation and diversity isn’t going away.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Yours, Fictionally

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