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Not Your Typical Bookstagram List: 10 Good Summer Reads For Women, By Women

Take a much-needed break and support your favorite lit sistas with these picks.

Good Reads

Summer is looking a bit different this year thanks to 'Rona, and though things have been a bit rough, all is not lost. With all the stress from everyday life and world crises, adding a bit of reading to the mix is always a good look. The benefits of reading a great book are undeniable and includes increasing intelligence, reducing stress, and relieving anxiety and depression. We could all use a bit of escape and brain food right now.

So let's get into 10 books worth checking out this summer and beyond---all raved about by bookstagrammers and lit lovers around the world. And don't worry sis. These aren't all the same ole' titles you've seen on other popular lists---there's a variety of genres and authors to wake up the book geek inside of all of us. (Yes, you sis. She's in there. Trust me.)

*This list is specially curated by the xoNecole team and some links are affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an affiliate link, xoNecole might earn a small commission.

'The Care And Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' by Anissa Gray

Generational curses. Family drama. Redemption and understanding. If you're into stories about love, unity, transformation, and sisterly bonds, this book might be your pick of the summer. Described as "well-written" and "stunning," it has multiple narratives surrounding three sisters in the aftermath of one of them getting prison time for white-collar crimes. It's been a favorite on 2019 book lists including that of Vogue, Essence and Refinery29. Even Insecure star Issa Rae has "devoured" it.

$18

'Little Book of Big Lies: A Journey to Inner Fitness' by Tina Lifford

This Queen Sugar actress has been dropping jewels of wisdom for a while via her IG, and Auntie Tina, as I like to call her, tells it like it is. Her latest book takes that to a whole 'nother level, with personal stories and insights on how to push through the hurts, dramas, and fears of life. "We must learn to see lies for what they are---distortions that are not the truth---and say no to their limiting lies," she writes. "From this point forward, there is never a justifiable reason to think poorly of ourselves or speak harshly to ourselves, not for any reason, at any time, under any circumstances." Who doesn't need that extra real, cool Auntie perspective in their lives?

$17

'The City We Became' by N.K.Jemisin

Some reviewers have said that this book is an appropriate read for the COVID-19 times we live in, and Jemison's book offers a suspenseful other-world version of New York that has intrigued critics from NPR to The New York Times. This piece deviates from the usual science fiction into a more "rich and generous" alternative reality that resonates in today's environment of tragic deaths, quarantines, and social distancing.

$17

'Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel' by Yaa Ayasi

Any book featuring a central character that is a scholar making sense of the everyday struggles of being a human being and recommitting to faith is worth a try, and this one is set to intrigue. Ghanaian-American writer Yaa Ayasi adds a bit of her own background in the book, writing about a Ghanaian immigrant family in Alabama grappling with issues of depression, grief, faith, religion and love. If you're not going to pre-order, you might want to go ahead and at least put this on your Amazon wish list. This author's debut book, Homecoming landed spots on both The New York Times Best Seller and Oprah's 10 Favorite Books lists.

$20

'Affording Travel: Saving Strategies for Financially Savvy Travelers' by Danielle Desir

There are so many books out there with tips for investing, budgeting, and the like, but this book goes a bit off the beaten path and satisfies that sad wanderluster inside of of all of us. True, COVID-19 has put a boulder-sized dent in our travel plans, but it doesn't hurt to get a head-start this summer in planning that dream Africa tour or European adventure in time for summer 2021 or 2022. Along with advice, Desir shares her own stories of travel, how she was able to get over fears of not being able to afford trips and adventures of living abroad.

$10

'A Tall History of Sugar' by Curdella Forbes

For all my Caribbean history and culture lovers, this is a story that takes one into the history of an industry that shaped Jamaica's economy and the link between the "mother country" and the island. It also infuses the sweet stickiness of a decades-long love story bound by folklore, colonialism, struggle and triumph. Epic, indeed.

$20

'More Myself: A Journey' by Alicia Keys

We all know her signature voice and swag, from "You Don't Know My Name" to New York's classic anthem to her fab no-makeup movement, and this book is an extension of the Harlem-bred phenom's transitions through womanhood and self-actualization. The candid behind-the-scenes insights are intriguing enough, but the refreshing rawness of her storytelling in this book---about life, music, love, and self-confidence--- just shows why our love for Alicia Keys continues to grow. The words in this book are---like her songs---a breath of fresh air, and at the very least, you'll get inspired by a woman constantly on the glow up.

$21

'We Want Our Bodies Back: Poems' by Jessica Care Moore

The title alone draws you in and the poetry is just as strikingly strong, assertive, and honest. Her work prompts the same deep sighs of understanding, empathy, and relatability as Ntozake Shange's classic For Colored Girls, and the subject matter features issues all women can relate to. If you don't see yourself and your own life in the words, you probably see your sister, mother, cousin or best friend.

$15

'90 Days to C.E.O.: A Guide To Avoid Business Pitfalls And Unlock The Secrets Of Entrepreneurship' by Rochelle Graham-Campbell

It's no small feat to take $100 and build a haircare product line from your kitchen and expand into an international company with products on Target's shelves. Sharing the how-to tools and tips is an added bonus and truly a labor of love and service. Along with personal anecdotes about launching a business and tapping into the hustler and entrepreneur within, this book includes an action plan that would light a fire under the tail of anyone who dreams of becoming a self-made boss.

$22

'Bloggers Can't Be Trusted' by Starrene Rhett

We can all relate to a time when we wanted a change---both in love and in career---and Nyela Barnes is both relatable and believable in her plight to find both. The blogger-focused, Internet nostalgia in this book is noteworthy, and if you've been fantasizing about that fine neighbor you never knew you had until you were forced to work from home for weeks on end, this book might spark the urge to shoot your shot. If not, you'll at least find a juicy escape into sticky drama and black love.

$15

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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