#ireadindie: Books that Celebrate Diversity

Milkweed Staff — 02/07/2017

We’re proud to be part of the independent publishing community, promoting titles that breed independent minds, break the mold, and dare to be different. In support of our fellow independents, we’d like to draw attention to big books from smaller publishers across the country. Over the coming months, we’ll be teaming up with a few other independent publishers to do just that, each time highlighting books on different themes. First up, we’re highlighting our best books that celebrate diversity.

Of course, this is just a small snapshot of what’s out there. What are your favorite books from independent publishers? Join the conversation and use the hashtag #ireadindie.



Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
by Robin Wall Kimmerer

“A hymn of love to the world.” —Elizabeth Gilbert
As a botanist, the author has been trained to examine nature with the tools of science; as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our teachers. Here she brings these two lenses together, showing how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.

Milkweed  | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble  | Amazon

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature
by J. Drew Lanham

Growing up on his family’s land in South Carolina, J. Drew Lanham fell in love with the subtle beauties of the natural world around him—and grew up to be one of the lone black men in a predominantly white field. This memoir is a riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South, asking what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity.”

Milkweed  | IndieBound  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Tula: Poems
by Chris Santiago

Tula: a ruined Toltec capital; a Russian city known for its accordions; Tagalog for “poem.” Inspired by the experiences of the second-generation immigrant who does not fully acquire the language of his parents, the winner of the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry paints the portrait of a mythic homeland that is part ghostly underworld, part unknowable paradise.

Milkweed  | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon



Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
by Octavia Butler; adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrated by John Jennings

More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Abrams | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers
by Bobby Seale; photographs by Stephen Shames

Admired, reviled, emulated, misunderstood, the Black Panther Party was one of the most creative and influential responses to racism and inequality in American history. They advocated armed self-defense to counter police brutality, and initiated a program of patrolling the police with shotguns—and law books. Published on the 50th anniversary of the party’s founding, Power to the People is the in-depth chronicle of the only radical political party in America to make a difference in the struggle for civil rights.

Abrams | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir
by Thi Bui

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, debut author Thi Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

Abrams | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble  | Amazon



At the Same Moment, Around the World
by Clotilde Perrin

Clotilde Perrin takes readers eastward from the Greenwich meridian, from day to night, with each page portraying one of (the original) 24 time zones. Discover Benedict drinking hot chocolate in Paris, France; Mitko chasing the school bus in Sofia, Bulgaria; and Khanh having a little nap in Hanoi, Vietnam. Strong back matter empowers readers to learn about the history of timekeeping and time zones, and to explore where each of the characters lives on the world map.

Chronicle Books | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors
by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

Magnificently capturing the colorful world of Islam for the youngest readers, this breathtaking and informative picture book celebrates Islam’s beauty and traditions. From a red prayer rug to a blue hijab, everyday colors are given special meaning as young readers learn about clothing, food, and other important elements of Islamic culture, with a young Muslim girl as a guide.

Chronicle Books | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case
by Patricia Hruby Powell, Illustrated by Shadra Strickland

From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

Chronicle Books  | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon



Celebrate People’s History
by Josh MacPhee

Celebrate People’s History! features posters by over eighty artists that pay tribute to revolution, racial justice, women’s rights, queer liberation, labor struggles, and creative activism and organizing. These essential movements—acts of resistance and great events in an often hidden history of civil rights struggles—remind us of the resilience of humankind even at the darkest of moments.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

But Some of Us Are Brave (2nd Edition)
by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith

A precursor to Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour’s statement “if you’re not following a woman of color, you’re in the wrong movement,” All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies is the first-ever comprehensive collection of black feminist scholarship. Featuring essays by Alice Walker, the Combahee River Collective, and Barbara Smith, and original resources, this book is vital to today’s conversation on race and gender in America.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

The Crunk Feminist Collection
by Brittney C. Cooper, Susana M. Morris, and Robin M. Boylorn

For the Crunk Feminist Collective, their academic day jobs were lacking in conversations they actually wanted to have—relevant, real conversations about how race and gender politics intersect with pop culture and current events. To address this void, they started a blog. Now with an annual readership of nearly one million, their posts foster dialogue about activist methods, intersectionality, and sisterhood. Never afraid to speak out, disrupt narratives, and prioritize self-care, the Crunk editors are the models we need for activism in 2017.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon



The Kindness of Enemies
by Leila Aboulela

During a week where citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries were banned from entering the United States, it is more important than ever to turn to and support those voices whose work unpacks history in order to provide clarity to the present. In her latest novel, Sudanese-born Leila Aboulela writes with inimitable elegance a multi-generational historical fiction saga about Imam Shamil, the 19th century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War; his family; and the reach of his legacy today. The Kindness of Enemies is both an engrossing story of a provocative period in history and an important examination of what it is to be a Muslim in a post-9/11 world.

IndieBound  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

by Tim Murphy

In an age where queer people face hostility from a reactionary political establishment, the activism of the AIDS crisis offers urgent lessons as to how we can make positive change in the face of oppression and misinformation. A portrait of the endurance of love, the constellation of relationships that binds us, and the changing world of New York City, Christodora is a deeply moving portrait of a lost bohemian Manhattan of art, music, and drugs, and a powerful exploration of the fate of activists and artists in our contemporary society.

IndieBound  | Barnes & Noble  | Amazon

The Refugees
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The refugee experience is the world experience, and it is the American experience too—not least because of wars fought abroad that cause an influx of refugees at home. In his new collection, The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen looks at the Vietnamese refugee experience in America, as well as the lives of some Americans in Vietnam. From the battles to build a good life in the wake of actual wars left behind, to new and old experiences of love and tenderness, and questions of where home is when hostility is faced both in the country of birth and the adopted country, The Refugees is a powerful and moving testament to the experiences of people living lives between two worlds.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon



Isabella: Girl in Charge
by Jennifer Fosberry, illustrated by MIke Litwin

Isabella: Girl in Charge explores some of the amazing women who made political history. This heartwarming tale empowers young girls to realize their true capabilities while inspiring them to let their own personalities shine.

IndieBound  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
by Kate Moore

As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive—until they began to fall mysteriously ill. The Radium Girls is the first book that fully explores the strength of these extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

What Does it Mean to Be Kind?
by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

Part of the award-winning What Does It Mean to Be…? series, What Does It Mean to Be Kind? is a straightforward, accessible introduction to the idea of kindness, with suggestions that foster empathy and enlighten the world. What Does It Mean to Be Kind? shows young children how easy it is to be kind, through small acts and in simple ways.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon



This is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From
by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

From the #1 New York Times bestselling creative team comes a timely, interactive picture book about immigration and identity. It asks children to consider: What would you pack if you had to travel to a new country with just a small suitcase? What are the things you love best? What says “This is me!”

Workman | IndieBound  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World
edited by Kelly Jensen

Forty-four writers, dancers, actors, and artists contribute essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations about everything from body positivity to romance to gender identity to intersectionality to the greatest girl friendships in fiction. Together, they share diverse perspectives on and insights into what feminism means and what it looks like.

Workman | IndieBound  | Barnes & Noble  | Amazon

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
by Grace Bonney

Across the globe, women are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting creative businesses. In the Company of Women profiles over 100 of these influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds, and industries, and details the keys to their success.

Workman | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon