I am all about gifts that are meaningful, personal, and spreads knowledge. As I think about what gifts I gave to friends and loved ones throughout the year, I was surprised that it was mostly books written by or about womxn of color. This act of sharing narratives from womxn of color definitely inspired me to start a “Womxn of Color” reading challenge for the new year.
Below are only 5 books (out of a dozen or so) written by womxn of color authors that I purchased this year, specifically as gifts. I am recommending books that are published within the past 2 years, and should be readily available/in stock at bookstores:
1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (2015)
Who did I gift this to? An undergraduate student of mine for her fall semester graduation
Why did I pick this book? My student finished her degree, got married the next day, and has a full semester before she starts graduate school. Life was pretty happening. She mentioned that she wanted to pick up reading again after she finally had some down time. I thought a witty quick read from Mindy would help her take her mind off the stress that comes with growing up, marriage, and grad school!
I would recommend for: Anyone who enjoys sarcasm, loves Mindy Kaling’s work, or her other book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2014)
Who did I gift this to? The same undergraduate student for her fall semester graduation
Why did I pick this book? Because I loved it. And it talked about the complexities of multiracial/mixed-race families, without directly talking about it (make sense?). My student wants to pursue graduate research in implicit bias, so I thought this work of fiction could give her some meaningful reflection time.
I would recommend for: Anyone who wants a book that will pull you in, make you cry, and reflect on whose standards you’re maintaining
3. A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros (2015)
Who did I gift this to? Another undergraduate student for her fall semester graduation
Why did I pick this book? I asked my best friend, who is also another higher education administrator, to recommend a book that has changed her life. The student I was buying this book for identifies as Mexican-American, first-generation college student, and has done so much on campus to create systemic change. I needed a really powerful book that I knew would also change her life. I told her not to read it until finals were over. She started reading it 30 minutes after we met.
I would recommend for: Anyone who needs a liberating narrative; anyone who enjoyed reading The House on Mango Street.
4. milk and honey by rupi kaur (2014)
Who did I gift this to? A friend who I went to undergrad with and I’ve known for 10 years. “Just because” gift because she’s amazing.
Why did I pick this book? The student mentioned above actually let me borrow this book of poetry. I would have to admit that I didn’t consider myself as someone who enjoyed contemporary poetry until I read this. rupi kaur’s career definitely kicked off this year. I didn’t realize that I had already read some of her work on Facebook and Instagram. This is a book that I’ve recommended so many times this year.
I would recommend for: Anyone who doesn’t generally go for poetry, or anyone who has recently gone through difficult times. Self-love is central to this work. Bonus: there is a Spanish edition floating somewhere…
5. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2014)
Why did I pick this book? After grad school, the last thing you really want to do is read a long novel. Instead of doing that, I picked this book because it is essentially Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TedTalk in written form. And because, Beyonce.
I would recommend for: Anyone who wants to learn more about the foundations of feminism; anyone who wants a super quick read; also good for guest rooms or common areas