Because Of Them We Can: Educating and Connecting a New Generation to Heroes Who Have Paved the Way, by Eunique Jones Gibson

Why?

"Each image showcases a young person portraying a notable figure, from Bessie Coleman to Jean-Michel Basquiat to Melissa Harris Perry and more. The message of the book is simple yet profound: if you can dream it, you can do it."
- Vanessa K. De Luca, Editor-in-Chief

Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation, by Morgan and John Smith

Why?

"I grew up watching Soul Train; every Saturday we had a standing appointment--it was the original must-see TV. Besides the brilliant musical performances, we all took copious style notes from the dancers in the audience--what they were wearing was as important to us viewers as the individuality of their dance moves. This book captures the energy of this moment in time, but also confirms the show's indelible imprint on our culture."
- Vanessa K. De Luca, Editor-in-Chief

Harlem: The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith, by Morgan and John Smith

Why?

"They captured everyday lives of everyday people such as pullman porters, subway conductors and telegram messengers, and well as the iconic figures of the day--Maya Angelou, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and more--whose creativity and talents had worldwide influence. But it is their photos of Harlem's children caught in moments of unfettered joy, that are my favorite images in the book."
- Vanessa K. De Luca, Editor-in-Chief

The Eighth Square: Gender, Life and Desire in Art Since 1960, by Judith Butler and Frank Wagner

Why?

"The book isn't only photographers, but showcases many artists who focus on sexuality, gender, and identity in their work. It gave me a lot of insight into how to speak about the above topics in my own work and was truly inspiring to see how other artists have paved the way for artists like myself."
- Wynne Neilly, Photographer

Shanghai Blink, by Inès Breton and Vincent Prudhomme

Why?

"What's interesting about this book and how it inspired me was a different type of photography than what I was doing before, which is not just documenting the kind of painterly, epic scenes. So, for me, the ultimate photograph was a scene that could not have been taken anywhere else but that place. It has the architecture, the costume, the flavor, the lighting, the geographical specificity that would say that this ... You could not have taken this anywhere else but in this, I don't know, backwaters of Laos."
- Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired

Afghanistan: Paradise Lost, by Roland and Sabrina Michaud

Why?

"This book is by a French couple who were photographing for National Geographic in Afghanistan. They were fantastic images, but the kind of life they were describing, again, the scenes, the culture, were just so time shifted, they were from another era, they were so different from what I could possibly see, and I wanted to do that for the rest of Asia."
- Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired

Leaves Of Grass, by Walt Whitman

Why?

"This book was like The Americans, it was a view of America. And, it blew my gasket, it just blew my mind, because for the first time I was seized by this craving, by this compulsion to travel, to see that multitude that what Whitman had seen, to experience this sort of inflation of life, this, I don't know, this just enthusiasm that he had encountering the world."
- Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired

Once In Harlem, by Katsu Naitō

Why?

"This book came out about 30 years ago and it was a documentary picture book of life in Harlem. I really like this book because it just took me to that time, but it also highlighted all little kind of dressing symbols and codes of black people. And I love the stuff with the toy cars. That's what got me into this book. "
- Tyler Mitchell, Photographer

The Notion of Family, by Latoya Ruby Frazier

Why?

"The 10th anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis has also got me looking again at Latoya Ruby Frazier’s brilliant The Notion of Family. . . . This time around, I am drawn to the details in the photographs. I also enjoy the movement in this book – how time is illustrated within photographs, and expanded through text."
- Makeda Best, Curator