Eleanor Black covers the hottest titles on a theme or trend.
There are two dominant topics right now: Covid-19 and racism. Personally, I don't want to read any more about the pandemic, which makes me anxious and sweaty and I can't stop reading about racism, which makes me anxious and chills me to the bone. In no way do I have the authority or experience to recommend books about understanding and combating systemic racism but, for what it is worth, here is what I am reading and learning from right now.
Like so many excellent reads, Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women White Feminists Forgot (Bloomsbury, $33) came out just as we went into lockdown. Mikki Kendall, a self-described activist, writer and asshole, provides a clear and devastating explanation of what intersectionality is all about. One by one, she tackles fundamental issues such as housing, education, reproductive rights and poverty, showing how they are experienced differently by women of colour. If mainstream feminism concentrates its efforts on making already privileged middle-class white women even more privileged, then hood feminism "is for everyone, because everyone needs it," says Kendall.
Coming from an Aotearoa perspective, Imagining Decolonisation (BWB, $15), a collection of essays by Rebecca Kiddle, Bianca Elkington, Moana Jackson, Ocean Ripeka Mercier, Mike Ross, Jennie Smeaton and Amanda Thomas, argues that colonisation had negative impacts on both Māori and Pākehā and it must be unpicked to create a better future. The writers map out what decolonisation could look like and how we could all play our parts.
Finally, if you keep finding yourself caught up in ridiculous #AllLivesMatter debates, this book could help. How to Argue With a Racist (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $35) by geneticist Adam Rutherford, delves into four areas where stereotypes tend to get the better of us when we try to understand race: skin colour, so-called ancestral purity, sport and intelligence, using science to cut a path through centuries of misinformation. He writes: "People fixated on finding biological bases for racial differences appear more interested in the racism than the science."