Book Recommendations


What Does It Mean to Be an American?

In light of the election, our library assistant Kris Santos, with the help of our bookstore and library intern Maggie Zelaya, put up a wonderful display in our front window. We think these books help explain the true American identity—a melting pot of cultures, races, belief systems, sexual orientations, and more. Here, Kris discusses the selection.

It only seemed right to share books that explore the experiences of many types of American writers, considering how much literature has saved my own life. These books are all by individuals who have striven to have a voice in a deeply conflicted, yet beautiful America. My only wish is that there was room for even more books in the window, but I see this display as a work in progress over the next month that I'll continue to curate with the guidance of colleagues, patrons, and readers. My goal was to be as inclusive as possible. 


With instances of homophobia, bullying, sexism, and violence increasing, this was my own peaceful way to protest what was happening. I told myself that I would not shudder in fear, regardless of my own ethnicity as an American of Filipino descent. So I wrote down all the authors who have faced such obstacles. It's comforting that I did not have any difficulty in finding so many wonderful writers. The stories they have written are far stronger and more lasting than the current abuses and prejudices that attempt to quell our freedom to live and to write.


I hope you find them as powerful as I do. If you ever find yourself walking by the Center, I invite you to come in and share your experiences.



After the Parade by Lori Ostlund

Another Country by James Baldwin
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
The Great American Novel by Philip Roth
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Native Believer by Ali Eteraz
The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
When Tito Loved Clara by Jon Michaud
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros