What’s On My Bed’s Bookcase Shelves?

One half of my bookcase shelves
Another half of my bookcase shelves

One of the main reasons why I wanted to quickly unpack my life out of the multiple suitcases and boxes I brought home was so I would have easy access to all of my books again. I’ve accumulated quite a collection of prose, poetry chapbooks, and criminal justice manuscripts over the years, most of which were written by authors of color. In my personal rebellion against white academia, I’ve curated a selection of literature on my bookcase shelves by people who speak for the majority of us on the issues about which I’m most passionate: prison abolition, police brutality, LGBTQIA+ rights, Hawaiian sovereignty, and vulnerability in poems. I’m always looking for new books to add to my bookcase shelves in the hope that I’ll constantly find inspiration in new and unfamiliar voices. Teaching middle or high schoolers has become a possible career in my list of job options and if I were to find myself in a classroom, I would make the books on my syllabus look just like these: my version of the classics. I don’t read many novels because I tend to focus more of my attention on nonfiction stories about prisons and the carceral state as well as poetry books by my favorite poets. However, some of my most beloved fiction novels on my bookcase shelves are Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (obviously), If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. The criminal justice books I love and recommend the most are The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis, When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Cullors and Asha Bandele, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Poetry chapbooks, although thin, seem to take up the most space on my bookcase shelves and yet I can’t refrain from purchasing every new release from my authors of choice. I know I can’t name each book as my favorite, but the ones I read the most are If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar, New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay, No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay, Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez, Counting Descent by Clint Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith, and Life On Mars by Tracy K. Smith.

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