During quarantine, the IAHI staff have been keeping busy both in and out of the “office” by doing some much needed reading. We’ve compiled a list of our personal favorite books to read that keep us entertained and sane.

Today’s list is brought to you by Shonda Gladden, a graduate research assistant at the IAHI and PhD student in the IUPUI American Studies Program.

“Amidst this unwanted and unexpected time of self-isolation, one of the joys I have found is retreating to intentional moments of sabbath while exploring the worlds created within the pages of books. Here are the books I am reading and returning to during this time.”

Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route by Saidiya Hartman
While sitting nearby as I read this during one of our Corona isolation walks to the park, my soon to be twelve year old looked and rolled their eyes at me because I must have burst out in laughter or sighed in desperation one too many times. While I commend this to everyone’s reading, this book is a must read for anyone who is Black and breathing.

Black and Blur by Fred Moten
As an American Studies PhD Student, formally trained as a philosophical theologian, Moten’s writing intrigues me. This book is not something one reads from front to back cover, but rather in sections, with a glass of something strong to help work through the depth. This book has a good mix of art theory, Black and Diasporic history and culture, mixed with just the right amount of classic hip hop references to keep it interesting.

Becoming by Shonda Nicole Gladden
There’s a saying among village elders in my community that says, “it’s a sad frog that won’t croak about its own pond.” So, what can I say? I wrote a book in 2016 that still encourages me. It’s a mix of bible study, life affirmations, memoire and humor in a short accessible format. Reading it during this time, however, is piquing my interest to consider writing something new.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Years ago someone I deeply love(d) gifted me a copy of this book. I frequently return to its pages when time permits as the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy and the people he meets in his travels, never grows old. If you’ve never read it, it’s a great self-quarantine choice as positive self-discovery is inevitable.

Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by
Simone Browne
As much of the world transitions to working virtually using web based platforms owned by private for-profit companies, I am increasingly interested in (some might say paranoid about) the ways surveillance is deployed in our modern society. This book is riveting in the double jeopardy at play concerning the surveillance of Black bodies

We hope you enjoyed this list! Stay tuned for more staff book picks!

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