Possible reads for Real Lit[erature] Winter 2019

For the Winter 2019 Real Lit[eature] Book Club, the UW Tacoma Library and the Center for Equity and Inclusion are giving current book club members a chance to vote on the book we will read next quarter. We envisioned this book club to be a space for students (and other members of our community) to discuss issues that *they* care about, and so wanted to move the selection process into their hands.

So how did we generate this list? This book list was mindfully curated.  Four folks from the CEI and Library put together a list of over two dozen books, mostly Young Adult novels, with themes that are relevant to our students and our campus.  

Themes we considered included immigration, sexual assault and #MeToo, and issues facing the LGBTQ community, to name a few.  We then whittled the list down based on reviews, length of book, and currency.


The descriptions of the book are taken from their Goodreads profile, also linked out via title.

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

There are three kinds of people in my world: 1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose. 2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad. Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right? 3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories. Like the monster at my mosque. People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask. Except me.

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrara

Yuri Herrera explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back. Traversing this lonely territory (US/Mexico boarder) is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages – one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – can be read in graphic novel or novel form

“Speak up for yourself―we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless―an outcast―because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her.

We’re curious if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought! Let us know in the comments!

If you haven’t read these titles and are intrigued, we look forward to sharing with you what book the current Real Lit members picked — and then hope you can join us Winter Quarter for Real Lit (Wednesdays @ Lunch; a copy to keep of the book is provided to students for free and we bring snacks!).

Questions? Please reach out the Nedralani Mailo (mailon@uw.edu) at the CEI, or Johanna Jacobsen Kiciman or Alaina Bull at the Library (jmjk@uw.edu or alainac@uw.edu)

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