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Between the World and Me

4.4  ·  Rating Details ·  81,282 Ratings  ·  10,863 Reviews
In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that ...more
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Spiegel & Grau (first published June 2015)
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Robert Westbrook I am not sure that Coates ever offers a "way forward." I don't think that's within the scope of the book. I think his aim was most of all to throw a…moreI am not sure that Coates ever offers a "way forward." I don't think that's within the scope of the book. I think his aim was most of all to throw a brutally honest illumination on the past (and most especially the present), so that we can attempt to formulate a way forward only after we've been honest with ourselves about what's been going on, and the harmful delusions we've been living under. I don't think there is a way forward until everyone understands the volume of lies they've grown up with.(less)
Laura Please do, I think it is very timely with what is happening in our country. It is an easy read, and I think will help your students gain some…morePlease do, I think it is very timely with what is happening in our country. It is an easy read, and I think will help your students gain some perspective on "black lives matter", and why that phrase is much more than "all lives matter".(less)

Community Reviews

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Rick Riordan
Aug 24, 2015 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what compelled me to pick up this book, but that's true of many books I read. I simply felt like it was something I needed to read at that moment, and I'm very glad I did.

Between the World and Me is written as a letter/essay from Coates to his fifteen-year-old son, trying to come to terms with what it means to grow up as an African American male in 2015. I almost said "make sense of what it means," but Coates' story is not so much about making sense as it is about finding one's plac
...more
J Beckett
Less than an hour ago (on 7/26/2015) I finished reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me. As I read the last sentence, “Through the windshield I saw the rain coming down in sheets,” I was involuntarily overcome with inexplicable, yet wholly warranted emotion. Oddly, tears, my tears, tears perhaps I had been locking inside my fatherly bravado for a couple decades, came down in their own sheets, as thoughts of my child, my daughter, at fourteen years old, still having to face the d ...more
Bill  Kerwin

Sometime early in my reading of this book, I felt in my gut I had encountered a classic. Not a best-seller—this book is already that—but a classic. I envisioned stack upon paperback stack piled on metal shelves in university bookstores, shelves labeled Black Studies 301 but also Basic Comp 100. I could see pirated copies of large portions of Part One passed out to high school juniors and seniors, to be carefully annotated in AP Language and AP Literature, and I could see smaller sections distrib
...more
Joshunda Sanders
Aug 08, 2015 Joshunda Sanders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll get all of my disclaimers out of the way first. I am a fan of TNC but I also resent what he symbolizes. He is a great writer in his own right and he has the kind of co-signers in publishing and journalism that have offered him a platform that he has rightfully and eloquently expanded upon, utilized and maximized appropriately and used to catapult himself into the American race dialogue as one of the most prolific writers on race during our generation. My resentment of what he symbolizes com ...more
Rob Slaven
Mar 10, 2016 Rob Slaven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book free for review from ShelfAwareness in exchange for an honest review. Despite the privilege of receiving a free book, I’m absolutely candid about it below because I believe authors and readers will benefit most from honest reviews rather than vacuous 5-star reviews.

Written in the form of a letter from a father to a son, "Between the World and Me" is a detailed crystallization of the state of racism in our country today and its historical roots throughout the entire history o
...more
Jessica
Aug 07, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
I thought it was a little fishy that all the reviews on here are these reverent whispery multi-starred nods of agreement about how important this book is. I mean, that just never happens, especially with the "it" book of the moment : there are always naysayers and contrarians and people who just don't get what the BFD is. Since there's a copy lying around my house, I thought I'd check it out -- the season's "it" book is rarely just 152 pages and about a topic that interests me, so I was excited ...more
Brina
Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me is an essay to his teenaged son. Toni Morrison on the cover maintains that this should be required reading. In this short yet powerful message, Coates delivers a rap on race and offers hope to African Americans in their struggle to maintain their culture.

Coates is a respected journalist and essayist and here writes a lyrical prose that had me captivated from the first pages. His message is simple- African Americans have to work twice as hard because of
...more
Rowena
Dec 17, 2015 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: afrocentric, race
"But all our phrasing- race relations, racial chasms, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy- serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth." - Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

A couple of days ago I posted on Twitter a painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme entitled "Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind." I love the painting, the title, and I
...more
Petra Eggs
Freedom, opportunity and education are all part of being equal citizens in the first world. But these are things of the mind. If you can't even keep the body safe, then what use are intellectual pursuits and a law guaranteeing you rights? And in seems in America that Black people find it very hard to keep their bodies safe.

Who goes to prison more for drugs? Black people, although White people commit more drug offences being as they form the bulk of the population. Why is crack cocaine punished m
...more
Jennifer Masterson
Aug 14, 2016 Jennifer Masterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This is an extremely important book that should be read. I am late to the party so there is not much for me to say that others haven't.

I listened to the audio version of this book. The one thing I will say is that I had to start and stop the audio so many times that I found myself frustrated. I think that I will listen to it again when I am alone with nothing to distract me. For now I'm giving it 4 Stars. It is only a little over 3 hours long and extremely well narrated by the author.

People ar
...more
s.penkevich
Mar 12, 2016 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Don't look away
Recommended to s.penkevich by: The world around us
An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.

The moment I really fell for Ta-Nehisi Coates was during his interview on the Diane Rehm’s show after he was asked his opinions on gun control. The question came after a statement by him about the safety of his son living in Paris as opposed to the United States with regard to the rampant gun violence in the US. Gun control is a very ‘hot-button’ issue in the US as
...more
Michael Spikes
Folks that love Mr. Coates will love this book, as they'll be able to follow him through a piece that is somewhat indulgent -- but he certainly won't win new fans or quell his skeptics (like myself) with this piece of work. Coates says that he wanted to write like Baldwin, but it just comes across as a unfocused, stream of consciousness. As a black man who constantly battles with the work of Mr. Coates, I wanted to give this one a chance, as many lament tons of praise on the work -- but I for on ...more
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
Oct 24, 2016 Catriona (LittleBookOwl) rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
4.5/5 stars!

I listened to the audiobook for this, which was superb, I love that the author narrated it. I do think that I would really benefit from re-reading this physically, as at some points I got lost and not everything stuck in my mind. I want to have the chance to take it slow, savour the incredible writing and really feel the power of his words.
Diane
Oct 25, 2015 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like being punched in the gut. But it's a blow I hope more people can take because this book needs to be read.

Structured as a letter to his teenage son, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about what it means to be a black man in America. His writing is eloquent and powerful, beautiful and heartbreaking, strident and yet bleak. When I first started reading, I thought I would finish it in one day because the book isn't very long. But it was so provocative that often I could only read a
...more
Lexi
Jun 25, 2015 Lexi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit this book. I broke down into tears on the subway upon finishing the last page. As a very privileged white woman I don't feel like I have much right to talk about this book but I hope when it comes out everyone else talks about it because it is beautiful and devastating and has the potential to be so important.
Roxane
Jul 22, 2015 Roxane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. A lot to think about here. Stay tuned.
J.L.   Sutton
May 30, 2016 J.L. Sutton rated it really liked it
I was both very impressed and frustrated with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Written as a letter to his son, Coates presents racism and white privilege as a visceral experience, with much discussion, especially early in the book about what it means to lose your (black) body. I’m not going to explain what Coates means by losing your body; you should read how he frames this in the context of both American history and his own experience.

While I intend to re-read the first half of the
...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 02, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
I honestly do not feel right putting a rating on this man's experiences, heartfelt thoughts and wishes for his son. I grew up in Chicago and I have seen more than my fair share of the racial divide. Yet, I have never before read an eye opening book like this one. I am not going to express my views on what I think of what he wrote, my opinions have no place here. This is his viewpoint, shared by many of the black race and that is what I found astonishing, because it gave me an inside look at how ...more
Iris P
Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi coates (1) photo hqdefault_zpspnjdye3i.jpg
Ta-Nehisi Coates- The Author

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous",
Frederick Douglas- Writer/American Abolitionist
"One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen’s claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard".
Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between the World and Me

*************************
...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)
“You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”

Earlier this year I read several blog posts complaining about the 'plague' of important books, and the annoyance people felt when reviewers told them that a specific book was important*. As if awareness was some awful disease we should avoid at all cost.



Well. I don't agree with this. I don't buy in the "everyone knows and cares about it already" narrative,
...more
Pascal
Sep 03, 2015 Pascal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read Coates work in the Atlantic for years now and my fundamental impression of him is unchanged. His limited Black liberal anti-racist appeals to White guilt illustrate his total inability to escape the narrow racial essentialist vision of Black identity. Coates in his book reduces America to basically two categories: The Dreamers, (White Americans) and the rest being Black folk. This thinking demonstrates such a pedestrian understanding of America, especially when considering that the "Em ...more
Darwin8u
Feb 08, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
“I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

description

Awaken Fellow Dreamers.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a book that runs the distance from the black body (with all its wounds and fears) and the stars (with its ability to be a conscious citizen of the world). It travels from the mountain peaks of the dreamers, whose mountain is built on the sacred, black bodies, and their dar
...more
Elyse
Oct 21, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing
A Letter To A Teenage Son

A Letter To Me

A Letter To You


"Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains---whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains".

"To be black and beautiful was not a matter for gloating. Being black did not immunize us
from history's logic or the lure of the Dream. The writer, and that was what I was becoming,
must be wary of every Dream and every nation, even his own nation. Perhaps his own nation more than any other, pr
...more
Nicole~
Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates unleashes a heated analysis of the profile of the African-American in our times, in his new book Between the World And Me. Written in epistolary form to his teenage son, Samori, he contemplates his personal experiences born and bred in a color-discriminate society, and grapples with how best to encourage him while attacks of whites on the 'black body' (as he puts it) go unpunished - while the Trayvon Martins or the Michael Browns in this country are murdere ...more
Julie
I write this review with very conflicted feelings. I started to say that I acknowledge this book was not written for me, it was written as a letter from a father to a son. From one man to another, almost-man. From a black American to another. But then I realized that of course, it is for me, because it is out there, in the world, in libraries, bookstores, written by a journalist-writer-poet who has just received a MacArthur "Genius" grant, who is interviewed, speaks out, a voice that wants to be ...more
Esil
Dec 14, 2015 Esil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Mr. Coates, for letting me listen in on your letter to your son. My reality is very different from your son's reality, but I do try to understand the world I live in. By sharing your lyrical insights, you helped me see, you moved me, you angered me, you made me feel at times big and at times small, you made me feel exasperated, you puzzled me, you spoke to me, you lost me, you made me nod and smile for example when you wrote of your love of books, learning and writing, you wowed me wi ...more
Natalie
“My work is to give you what I know of my own particular path while allowing you to walk your own.”

In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives.

I listened to this as an audiobook and I cannot imagine having read listened it any differently. The writer's words left a profound mark on me.

And I feel as if my own words won't do justice to these essays, so
...more
Ameriie
Jun 03, 2016 Ameriie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-faves
Penetrating. For some a revelation, for others an affirmation of something we've always known and felt. A must-read.
Debbie "DJ"
Dec 30, 2015 Debbie "DJ" rated it it was amazing
This is a letter from an African American father to his son. It's rare that I read something this powerful. Coates is an amazing writer who offers new ideas and much food for thought. It begins with "Son, Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body." Or, how about this, "But all our phrasing - race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy - serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that i ...more
Roy Lotz
My understanding of the universe was physical, and its moral arc bent toward chaos then concluded in a box.

Reviewing this book is like reviewing an explosion. That’s how it feels, at least. Snob that I am, I was at first skeptical that such a popular book could be any good; I foresaw myself writing a polite but lukewarm review. But the book tore into me from the first page, and ripped my every preconception to shreds. It is hard to believe that words, mere words, are all that lurk between the
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: add/change details 6 20 Jan 16, 2017 06:17AM  
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues for TheAtlantic.com and the magazine. He is the author of the 2008 memoir The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. His book Between the World and Me, released in 2015, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Coates received the MacArthur Foundatio ...more
More about Ta-Nehisi Coates...

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“The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.” 282 likes
“But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.” 175 likes
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