University Book Store

University Book Store Recommended Reading List

UWAA reached out to long-time partner University Book Store for a suggested reading list on topics of race and equity, to help alumni perceive, understand and dismantle institutional racism. They recommended 10 titles, many of which can be ordered online for curbside pickup at University Book Store.

Please note that, due to overwhelming interest, many titles are on back-order. Many titles are available as audio versions available through

“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, “Between the World and Me” clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

“How to be Less Stupid About Race” by Crystal Fleming Your essential guide to breaking through the half-truths and ridiculous misconceptions that have thoroughly corrupted the way race is represented in the classroom, pop culture, media and politics. Centuries after our nation was founded on genocide, settler colonialism and slavery, many Americans are kinda-sorta-maybe waking up to the reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But in the midst of this reckoning, widespread denial and misunderstandings about race persist, even as white supremacy and racial injustice are more visible than ever before.

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison A first novel by an unknown writer, “Invisible Man” established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood” and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce and Dostoevsky.

“Men We Reaped” by Jessmyn Ward Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward (“Salvage the Bones,” “Sing, Unburied, Sing”) contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her and the risk of being a black man in the rural South. Listed as one of The New York Times’ 50 best memoirs, “Men We Reaped” is “[A] torrential, sorrowing tribute to five young black men.”

“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander Since it was first published in 2010, “The New Jim Crow” has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

“The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller “The Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, “The Nickel Boys” is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers. Winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans. Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned and crystalize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity.

“Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope. Recipient of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning “Stamped from the Beginning” reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. Designed for younger readers, it takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

“White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, ’95, ’04 UW alum and affiliate professor Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially. White fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

See more racial equity titles available at University Book Store. UWAA Members enjoy discounts and other perks as part of University Book Store’s Pack Rewards program.