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Shelf Care at The Blue Bench: March Reading List

Welcome to the Shelf Care reading list by The Blue Bench! Every month, we curate a reading list of books showcasing powerful voices and talented storytelling. These books delve into topics related to sexual assault, identity, trauma, healing, hope, community, and resilience.

The books highlighted in this month’s list are by authors who identify as women, writing about different aspects of the anti-sexual violence movement in recognition of Women’s History Month. [TW/CW: These books may contain topics related to sexual assault, domestic violence, drug use, police brutality, incest, and other topics that may be triggering]

We are adding a special book every month, a banned book of the month. Books depicting sexual violence often get placed on banned book lists. We believe that silencing authors who’ve written about sexual violence can perpetuate stigmas around the issue.

Women, Race & Class

By Angela Davis

This classic book provides powerful historical and contemporary context for the whiteness and elitism in feminism, and how the intersectionality of race and gender affect Black women and their relationship to feminism. Using specific examples from history, Davis shows the audience the inequalities between Black and white women on issues of sexual violence, reproductive rights, child care, housework, and education. Davis, a longtime activist and political figure, takes the reader on a journey including personal stories, historical facts, and political theory.

Angela Davis is an American activist, scholar, and author. She is currently a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has authored over 10 books on topics including race, class, gender, and the US prison system.

On Intersectionality: Essential Writings

By Kimberlé Crenshaw

Drawing on Black feminist and critical legal theory, this collection of writings shows how Crenshaw developed the term of intersectionality. She coined this term to speak on the social forces through which power and oppression are expressed and sustained. This analysis includes a dissection of the Central Park jogger case, LGBTQ activism, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas, and other significant cultural events.

Kimberlé Crenshaw is a civil rights advocate and leading scholar on intersectionality and critical race theory. She is a professor at the UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School. She specializes in race and gender issues.

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

By Anita Hill

This book draws on years of Hill’s experience as a teacher, legal scholar, and advocate. Diving into gender-based violence, it’s origins, and how it is affected by race, age, and power. Hill touches on how specifically women of color experience sexual violence at a higher rate than white women, and transgender and nonbinary people are also particularly vulnerable to violence. Hill describes how gender based sexual violence has an impact on every aspect of our lives including mental and physical health, housing stability, economic safety, and political and community participation.

Anita Hill is a lawyer, educator, and author. She is a professor of law, policy, and women’s studies at Brandeis University.

I’m Afraid of Men

By Vivek Shraya

In this autobiography, trans artist Vivek Shraya explores how masculinity has affected her life. She writes about how she endured acts of cruelty, aggression, and harassment for being too feminine as a boy, and not feminine enough as a girl. Shraya takes an honest, hard, and intimate look at sexism, gender discrimination, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, masculinity, and feminism.

Vivek Shraya is a musician, writer, and artist. Se is a seven-time Lambda Literary award finalist. She often incorporates her identity in her writing and art, describing her experience as a trans woman of color.

Salvation: Black People and Love

By bell hooks

This book is written from both historical and cultural point of view, and takes a loo at the transformative power that love has. Discussing topics like slavery, marriage, and relationships in life as a Black American, hooks also dissects the prose of Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, and Maya Angelou. Hooks dives into all these topics while connecting and focusing on the love and kindness that has enriched the history of the Black community. Her writings on love and the impact it has on race, class, family, history, and popular culture are deeply challenging yet beautiful.

bell hooks was an author, professor, feminist, and activist. The majority of her writings explores the intersectionality of race, gender, and capitalism and their ability to produce systems of oppression. She has published about 40 books.


The Bluest Eye

By Toni Morrison

This is the first novel by Toni Morrison, published in 190s. Set in Ohio, this book tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, and eleven year old Black girl who is convinced that she is ugly. She yearns to have lighter skin and blue eyes. She believes if she only had these features, her life would change a lot for the better. Pecola lives in a violent and abusive home. She becomes pregnant after being raped by her alcoholic father.

Toni Morrison is an American novelist. She has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved in 1987, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Her works have been praised for addressing the realities of racism in America. In 2020, Morrison was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


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