#READdifferent #READforequality

Aug 04, 2016

Open your mind at this year's festival and step outside your comfort zone, whether that means looking into a different genre, a new perspective or a topic that's foreign to you. We will use the hashtag #READdifferent to celebrate that challenge at the AJC DBF. The festival provides a breadth of content to give nearly everyone an opportunity to #READdifferent.

Not sure where to start on your journey of literary exploration and discovery? We're here to help! Each week we will be featuring a new theme or genre that you can use to READdifferent at the 2016 AJC Decatur Book Festival.


When it comes to the broad issue of equality, there is so much to talk (and read!) about. This week, we highlight titles from the 2016 AJC DBF that explore the many types and forms of inequality throughout history and to this day.

When Garrard Conley was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. In Boy Erased, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community by confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow.

In Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality, Debbie Cenziper and co-author Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff and now among the most recognized faces in the LGBTQ rights movement, present an intimate, gripping account of the legal precedents and personal hardships behind this unforgettable victory for the gay community. Taking readers inside courtrooms, lives, and hearts, they capture the determination and courage of couples, families, supporters, activists, and attorneys who joined forced to validate the bonds between same-sex partners from coast to coast.

In his debut novel, More Happy Than Not, Adam Silvera tells the story of 16-year-old Aaron Soto. In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for Aaron to find happiness again—but he's still gunning for it. When his girlfriend leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

From Jamaican author Nicole Dennis-Benn, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman.

Patricia Bell-Scott’s groundbreaking biography The Firebrand and the First Lady, A Portrait of Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice tells the story of a remarkable friendship. Drawing on letters, journals, diaries, published and unpublished manuscripts, and interviews, Bell-Scott presents the first close-up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.

As Ferguson, MO, erupted in August 2014 and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, “white rage” at work. In her book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, she pulls back the veil and carefully links historical flash points when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition.

At the age of fourteen, the man Sil Lai Abrams thought was her birth father made the bombshell revelation that she was not his biological child: that, in fact, she was the daughter of a man of African descent who didn’t know of her existence. In Black Lotus: A Woman's Search for Racial Identity, Abrams invites readers along on her unpredictable odyssey filled with extreme highs and lows as she reassembles her psyche by sifting through the broken fragments of her family’s past.

While a mother can be defined as a creator, a nurturer, a protector, at the center of each mother is an individual who is attempting to manage her own fears, desires, and responsibilities in different and sometimes unexpected ways. In Know the Mother, author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditative stories, women—both black and white—find themselves wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and wives.

Thomas Mullen’s Darktown delivers a riveting and elegant police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations that feels ripped from today's headlines. Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters.

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America is a gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America. Spanning the Cherokee removals of the 1830s, the hope and promise of Reconstruction, and the crushing injustice of the Forsyth’s racial cleansing, Blood at the Root is a sweeping tale. Patrick Phillips breaks the century-long silence of his hometown and uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century.

With ambitious manipulations of poetic forms, Tyehimba Jess presents the sweat and story behind America’s blues, worksongs and church hymns. Part fact, part fiction, Olio weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.