Personal Library: Sadie’s Books
20 Books Selected by Sadie Barnette and Grant Williams-Yackel

September 2022
Sadie Barnette, 2022; Courtesy of the artist, Jessica Silverman, San Francisco, and Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fortworth, TX, ⓒ Chanell Stone

This collection of novels, nonfiction, and theory gathers far-flung inspirations into a constellation — a map that charts a course through the vast cosmos of Black Feminist imagination. By returning to history, to the archives, these texts deconstruct our understanding of linear time to show that black pasts, presents, and futures are messy entanglements that constantly reshape and remake one another in resistance to power and in pursuit of pleasure. These texts point us inward, toward our deepest desires, toward the precious pieces of life that we know we must protect, extend, and nurture — they move us toward home.

This collection is for you to explore as you see fit. Browse, read, and be inspired by what you discover.

— Grant Williams-Yackel

This reading list was published in conjunction with Barnette’s Bay Area Walls commission, on view Oct. 15, 2022–June 2023 on Floor 5.


1. The Black Interior, by Elizabeth Alexander, 2004
2. Black against Empire, by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr., 2013
3. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, by Simone Browne, 2015
4. Lilith’s Brood Trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago), by Octavia E. Butler, 1987–1989
5. Listening to Images, by Tina M. Campt, 2017
6. W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, by ed. Whitney Battle-Baptiste and Britt Rusert, 2018
7. Mr. Loverman, by Bernardine Evaristo, 2013
8. Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals, by Saidiya Hartman, 2019
9. Blood in My Eye, by George L. Jackson, 1996
10. Civil Wars, by June Jordan, 1981
11. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by Audre Lorde, 1982
12. The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, by Betty Medsger, 2014
13. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison, 1977
14. The Book of Form and Emptiness, by Ruth Ozeki, 2021
15. The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli, 2017
16. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, by Christina Sharpe, 2016
17. Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music, by Rickey Vincent, 2013
18. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 1969

About the Collaboration

Grant Williams-Yackel is an artist, writer, and filmmaker from the Midwest. While still a student at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked as a research assistant for Sadie Barnette when she was the artist in residence at the university’s Black Studies Collaboratory — a program housed and spearheaded by the department of African American Studies & African Diaspora Studies. After graduating in 2022, Williams-Yackel began working as a studio assistant for artist Mildred Howard and as the manager of the Oasis In The Diaspora Black Bookstore, a private collection of over ten thousand black books in the Bay Area.

Williams-Yackel helped select this collection of books in collaboration with Barnette. For the past year, they have been working together at the Black Studies Collaboratory to situate Barnette’s work within a contemporary Black Feminist canon. The selection aims to generate both a descriptive language for and a range of accessible entry points into Barnette’s work.