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About the Project
The Helen Lemme Reading Club Library is the outcome of a collaboration between staff at The Afro American Cultural Center (Afro House) and The University of Iowa Libraries. The Helen Lemme Reading Club Library contains books read during The Helen Lemme Reading Club meetings (for more information about the club, see The Helen Lemme Reading Club page) as well as contemporary titles about the Black, African, and African American experience. It is the hope that The Helen Lemme Reading Club Library will provide current students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to continue the legacy of the work started by the Helen Lemme Rreading Club.
This project was made possible in part by the support of a Diversity Catalyst Seed Grant (2019) from The University of Iowa Office of Diversity, Enrichment & Inclusion and a Supplemental Theme Semester Grant (2019) from The University of Iowa Office of Outreach & Engagement.
Check back for library updates. Books from the Helen Lemme Reading Club Library will be available to students, faculty, and staff for check-out soon. A publicly available catalog of books contained in the library will be available here at a later date.
HLRC Library Titles
Below you will find a list of some titles available at the Helen Lemme Reading Club (HLRC) Library at Afro House. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, books from the HLRC Library are not currently available for circulation. The following books ARE available for loan and access through the University of Iowa Libraries collections. Clicking on the title of a book below will take you to the UI Libraries catalog record for that title. From there you can access ebook versions, when available, or request no-contact pick-up or mail delivery for physical items. To access ebooks and to request physical items you will need to log-in with your hawkid and password at various steps.
Assata by On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) lay in a hospital, close to death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that had claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder. This intensely personal and political autobiography belies the fearsome image of JoAnne Chesimard long projected by the media and the state. With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. The result is a signal contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America that has already taken its place alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the works of Maya Angelou. Two years after her conviction, Assata Shakur escaped from prison. She was given political asylum by Cuba, where she now resides.
Call Number: Main Library E185.97.S53 A3 1987
Publication Date: 1999-11-01
Heavy by *Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics* *WINNER of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and FINALIST for the Kirkus Prize * In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we've been. In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free. A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood--and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.
Call Number: Main Library E185.97.L394 A3 2018
Monday's Not Coming by "Jackson's characters and their heart-wrenching story linger long after the final page, urging readers to advocate for those who are disenfranchised and forgotten by society and the system." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List") From the critically acclaimed author of Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson, comes a gripping novel about the mystery of one teenage girl's disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth. Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable--more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn't turn up for the first day of school, Claudia's worried. When she doesn't show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn't just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year's rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best--and only--friend more than ever. But Monday's mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday's sister April is even less help. As Claudia digs deeper into her friend's disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she's gone?
Call Number: Main Library PZ71.J353 Mon 2018
Publication Date: 2019-04-23
Thick by FINALIST FOR THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD Named a notable book of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review, Chicago Tribune, Time, and The Guardian As featured by The Daily Show, NPR, PBS, CBC, Time, VIBE, Entertainment Weekly, Well-Read Black Girl, and Chris Hayes, "incisive, witty, and provocative essays" (Publishers Weekly) by one of the "most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time" (Rebecca Traister) "Thick is sure to become a classic." --The New York Times Book Review In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom--award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed--is unapologetically "thick": deemed "thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less," McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick "transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women" (Los Angeles Review of Books) with "writing that is as deft as it is amusing" (Darnell L. Moore). This "transgressive, provocative, and brilliant" (Roxane Gay) collection cements McMillan Cottom's position as a public thinker capable of shedding new light on what the "personal essay" can do. She turns her chosen form into a showcase for her critical dexterity, investigating everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies. Collected in an indispensable volume that speaks to the everywoman and the erudite alike, these unforgettable essays never fail to be "painfully honest and gloriously affirming" and hold "a mirror to your soul and to that of America" (Dorothy Roberts).
Call Number: Main Library HM479.C68 A3 2019
Publication Date: 2019-10-01
Well-Read Black Girl by NOMINATED FOR AN NAACP IMAGE AWARD * An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. "Yes, Well-Read Black Girl is as good as it sounds. . . . [Glory Edim] gathers an all-star cast of contributors--among them Lynn Nottage, Jesmyn Ward, and Gabourey Sidibe."--O: The Oprah Magazine Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives--but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all--regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability--have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology) Whether it's learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay remind us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her book club-turned-online community Well-Read Black Girl, in this anthology Glory Edim has created a space in which black women's writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world and ourselves. Praise for Well-Read Black Girl "Each essay can be read as a dispatch from the vast and wonderfully complex location that is black girlhood and womanhood. . . . They present literary encounters that may at times seem private and ordinary--hours spent in the children's section of a public library or in a college classroom--but are no less monumental in their impact."--The Washington Post "A wonderful collection of essays."--Essence
Call Number: Main Library PS153.N5 W37 2018
Publication Date: 2018-10-30