Welcome to the weekend, nonfiction friends! I am still recovering from a very exciting and celebratory weekend at my brother’s wedding. The weather cooperated, the festivities were lovely, and we are all exhausted.
This week I’ve got some book recommendations to celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment, plus new nonfiction about jobs with the dead. Let’s dive in!
Abstract Landscape Bookmarks from alliterates
These abstract bookmarks stopped me in my tracks while scrolling on Etsy this week. I love the simple outlines and bold colors so much! $12 for a set of four.
All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work by Hayley Campbell
I love long and detailed subtitles, which is why this book first caught my attention. In it, journalist Hayley Campbell tries to understand why we’re so afraid of death by asking the people who experience it every day through their work. This leads her to conversations with “mass fatality investigators” (so curious about that), embalmers, detectives, gravediggers, crime scene cleaners, and a former executioner. I am so intrigued with this approach and deeply curious to find out what she learns.
Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America by Psyche A. Williams-Forson (AOC)
In this book, scholar Psyche A. Williams-Forson explores how “anti-Black racism operates in the practice and culture of eating”—a subject I had never even considered until learning about this book. To answer this question, she looks at how “mass media, nutrition science, economics, and public policy” drive narratives about what is good or healthy to eat, and how ideas about what Black people eat perpetuate the feeling that they need to be fixed. She also looks at how food connects to culture and community, and the ways that scarcity and control contribute to Black people’s relationships with food. Fascinating!
On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote. In the election that November, more than eight million women voted for the first time. In honor of this anniversary—and recognizing that voting rights were still limited for Native Americans and women of color—I’d like to share some books on the suffrage movement.
The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss
Set in August 1920, this book chronicles the fight to have the 19th Amendment ratified in Tennessee–the 36th and last state needed for the amendment. Forces on both sides of the debate converged in Nashville during a special session of the legislature. The book follows several women coming to the fight from different angles, looking at the ways they tried to influence and change the minds of the men voting–through “dirty tricks, betrayals and bribes, bigotry, Jack Daniel’s, and the Bible.” This one is really fascinating!
Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones
This book offers an extended history of African American women’s political lives in the United States. It begins with the founding of the country and goes past the 1965 Voting Rights Act to show how Black women pushed against both racism and sexism to make change. She shared the oft-ignored work of Black women like Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Fannie Lou Hamer who helped lead the way for Black women’s enfranchisement.