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By the Book: Nishette Isaac

The New York Times has a weekly installment called “By the Book” which is a series of questions and answers about the reading habits of notable writers. This chapter features Dean of Digital and Library Services Nishette Isaac.

What books are on your nightstand?

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and The Vanishing Half by Brit
Bennett. I’ve just finished reading both.

Which book might we be surprised to find on your bookshelves?

It is a book written by a former parent of a student. Mr. Tiwary gave me a signed copy as a gift; The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Although I’m not a big Beatles fan, Brian Epstein’s story is a fascinating one.

You are organizing a dinner party. Which five writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

I will have to say Toni Morrison, W.E.B DuBois, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Octavia Butler. These are writers who’ve inspired me and whom I’ve always admired and go back to when I need encouragement and inspiration.

What do you plan to read next?

Two books I can’t wait to read are Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet Washington and Luster: A Novel by Raven Leilani.

If you could require your friends to read one book, which would it be?

The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B DuBois! Such an incredible read and collection of DuBois essays; it encompasses everything: Black history, Black life, and Black culture.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

In the book Caste, learning that in 1941 the most comprehensive study of the American caste system emerged; it’s titled Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class. This study described social class layers within the two major castes in America; white and black people.

Can you tell us about the best moment you have ever encountered in a book?

In the book The Dew Breaker when “Papa” eventually explains to Ka that he was a “Dew Breaker” (torturer), not a victim. What follows is Ka trying to come to terms with who her father is and what role her parents played during the reign of Papa Doc and Baby Doc.