BOEN Book Circle

Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880
W.E.B. DuBois
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Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880
Author : W.E.B. DuBois
Reader's Review : This is probably the most important book I’ve read on American history and how it informs our present race and class relations. DuBois’ masterwork dissects the lead up to the Civil War, the war itself, and the critical period directly after the war which brought the nation the closest it has ever been to real, multiracial democracy before regressing back towards slavery in other forms. His work has a specific focus on Black folks’ contributions to the Union victory and the shaping of democracy in the South, contributions that were largely ignored by white historians up until (and after) Black Reconstruction’s publication in 1935. At over 700 pages, it is big and at times dense, but DuBois’ insight, wit, and pro-Black conviction make this book as rewarding as it is daunting. I give it my highest recommendation.  “The true significance of slavery in the United States to the whole social development of America lay in the ultimate relation of slaves to democracy. What were to be the limits of democratic control in the United States? If all labor, black as well as white, became free—were given schools and the right to vote—what control could or should be set to the power and action of these laborers? Was the rule of the mass of Americans to be unlimited, and the right to rule extended to all men regardless of race and color, or if not, what power of dictatorship and control; and how would property and privilege be protected? This was the great and primary question that was in the minds of the men who wrote the Constitution of the United States and continued in the minds of thinkers down through the slavery controversy. It still remains with the world as the problem of democracy expands and touches all races and nations.” (13) --Read and recommended by Brother Chris Darby 
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The pioneering work in the study of the role of Black Americans during Reconstruction by the most influential Black intellectual of his time.

Emergent Strategy
Adrienne Marie Brown
Emergent Strategy
Author : Adrienne Marie Brown
Reader's Review : This is a potent text for activists, educators, artists, cultural organizers, and assorted change-makers in dire times. Over the course of the book (which can be read in disparate parts or in sequence in its entirety), Adrienne Marie Brown weaves in biology, history, facilitation strategies, and afro-futurism to create a hopeful, practical, and far-out guide to cultivating ourselves and our communities towards more liberated futures. Compassion and imagination underpin the book’s explorations, and this text helped me feel my way forward when my intellect could not see the path--a sort of alchemy-as-strategy that feels essential to address the nexus of crises facing our haggard little species at this moment.   “Just at least consider that the place where you were wrong might be the most fertile ground for connecting with and receiving others. And in a beautiful twist, being soft in your rightness, as opposed to smashing people with your brilliance, can open others up to whatever wisdom you’ve accumulated.” (94)  --Read and recommended by Brother Chris Darby 
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Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolute materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho
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The Alchemist
Author : Paulo Coelho
Reader's Review : Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations. Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams. --Read and recommended by Marc Anthony
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Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

Non-Violent Communication
Marshall B. Rosenberg         
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Non-Violent Communication
Author : Marshall B. Rosenberg         
Reader's Review : An enlightening look at how peaceful communication can create compassionate connections with family, friends, and other acquaintances, this international bestseller uses stories, examples, and sample dialogues to provide solutions to communication problems both at home and in the workplace. Guidance is provided on identifying and articulating feelings and needs, expressing anger fully, and exploring the power of empathy in order to speak honestly without creating hostility, break patterns of thinking that lead to anger and depression, and communicate compassionately. Practical nonviolent communication skills are partnered with a powerful consciousness and vocabulary that can be applied to personal, professional, and political differences. Included in the new edition is a complete chapter on conflict resolution and mediation. --Read and recommended by Marc Anthony
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Do you hunger for skills to improve the quality of your relationships, to deepen your sense of personal empowerment, or to simply communicate more effectively? Unfortunately, for centuries our culture has taught us to think and speak in ways that can actually perpetuate conflict, internal pain, and even violence. Nonviolent Communication partners practical skills with a powerful consciousness and vocabulary to help you get what you want peacefully.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
Don Miguel Ruiz 
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The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
Author : Don Miguel Ruiz 
Reader's Review : Rooted in traditional Toltec wisdom beliefs, four agreements in life are essential steps on the path to personal freedom. As beliefs are transformed through maintaining these agreements, shamanic teacher and healer don Miguel Ruiz assert lives will "become filled with grace, peace, and unconditional love." --Read and recommended by Marc Anthony
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In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself:  A New Critical Edition
Angela Y. Davis
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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself:  A New Critical Edition
Author : Angela Y. Davis
Reader's Review : In this international bestseller, Douglass lays bare the nature of enslavement in America. He argues in his narrative that “you have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” Douglass is a master of linguistic and visual rhetoric. This volume edited by Dr. Angela Davis also contains “two philosophical lectures originally delivered at UCLA in autumn 1969. In these lectures, Davis focuses on Douglass's intellectual and spiritual awakening and the importance of self-knowledge in achieving freedom from all forms of oppression.” Just an extraordinary book. This is the edition of his narrative that I recommend. --Read and recommended by Baba Cole
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A masterpiece of African American literature, Frederick Douglass's Narrative is the powerful story of an enslaved youth coming into social and moral consciousness by disobeying his white slavemasters and secretly teaching himself to read. Achieving literacy emboldens Douglass to resist, escape, and ultimately achieve his freedom. After escaping slavery, Douglass became a leader in the anti-slavery and women's rights movements, a bestselling author, and U.S. diplomat.

Just Mercy
Bryan Stevenson
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Just Mercy
Author : Bryan Stevenson
Reader's Review : This is a powerful true story reveals the potential for mercy to redeem us and presents a resounding call to fix our broken system of justice. Mr. Stevenson, one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. This powerful story is now a movie:  Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx.   -- Read and recommended by Baba Cole
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A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

The Water Dancer
Ta-Nehisi Coates
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The Water Dancer
Author : Ta-Nehisi Coates
Reader's Review : This absolutely beautifully written love story presents a thoroughly researched historical adventure drawn from our spiritual journey as a People. A story about Black families, set in the context of the internal trade of enslaved people during the days leading up to the Civil War. As a bonus, if you listen to the audio version, you are in for a special treat. Read by actor and musician, Joe Morton who interprets characters and even sings the work song snippets that are found throughout the novel. As Coates puts it, “not to have included works songs would have been like writing a story set in modern times and not including hip-hop.” --Read and recommended by Baba Cole
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Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her — but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.