Mary’s Summer 2020 Reading List

At the beginning of each season, I like to share a new reading list. This summer, however, will be a little different. I’m highlighting a few books about race and stats, particularly with regards to Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

I actually didn’t read any books from my spring reading list. The libraries aren’t open, and I haven’t been in the mood to read. I recently bought Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It’s very self-help and preachy (particularly her chapters on racism made me roll my eyes), but overall a great book.

Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Talleb

This is one of my favorite books from business school that explains how improbable events destroy the validity of most bell curves and how we continue to make inaccurate predictions.

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed For Men by Caroline Criado Perez

This explains how much of the world was designed for the default human — a white, straight, cisgender male. It’s focused on women, but read through the lens of anyone that is not that default human. And in case you haven’t noticed, almost all data is botched.

White Trash: The 400-Year Old Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

This book explains class issues for whites, from your beloved hillbillies to the elite leaders. I personally find it much more insightful than the book White Fragility (0/10 do not recommend) though overall, I more importantly recommend reading black authors.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

This is my favorite book of hers. “Anger is better. There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth. It is a lovely surging.”

The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou

Firsthand stories remain the best way to gain awareness and empathy, and of course, she is a legend. 

Women of Color in Tech by Susanne Tedrick

My colleague Susanne wrote a book! She works at IBM and is incredibly brilliant. I’m so happy she shared her story!

Three other books I bought are all from black authors that were published in 2020, so I’m excited to read A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry, Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, and Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump (which takes place in Chicago!).

Social media is exhausting right now. Unfortunately, racism is nothing new. There are tons of resources already. Stop asking black people to tell you what to do. Do the same amount of research in your community as you do choosing what food to order on Postmates. 

Personally, I’m donating my money to Healthy Hood Chicago. For the last few years, I’ve supported this awesome Pilsen initiative to bring health and wellness to lower income communities of colors. Tanya, Seobia, Christina, and the whole team are some of the best humans I’ve ever met. You can donate directly, or you can volunteer (virtually, too) here. They help with meals, masks, PPE kits, mental health assistance, and more.

I tried to keep it simple with this reading list — let me know what your favorites are or what you’re reading this summer!

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