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Reading Room

Installed within the MCA exhibition Gary Simmons: Public Enemy, the Reading Room is a space where you can sit, relax, and reflect while digging deeper into Gary Simmons’s multilayered practice.

The MCA invited scholars and cultural thinkers—as well as the artist himself—to contribute reading lists related to topics or themes Simmons explores in his practice, including horror, sports, music, architecture, and education. Their selections, along with texts selected by the curators and other museum staff, are shelved, stacked, and sorted in the museum’s Lake Gallery. Also available in the gallery are bookmarks featuring each of the curated reading lists, as well as a journal to record any thoughts, feelings, or reactions to the material or works on view. We invite you to explore these titles while relaxing at a table or couch in the Reading Room.

This web page features those reading lists, accompanied by a selection of related Spanish-language titles. To find hard copies of these books, try searching Chicago Public Library’s centralized database, or visit the MCA Store or your local independent bookstore.

Gary Simmons: Public Enemy is on view through October 1, 2023.

Reading Lists

Lista de Lectura en Español

Una lista de lectura por Antonio Díaz Oliva, escritor y editor del MCA.
A reading list by writer and MCA Editor Antonio Díaz Oliva.

Generación Hip-hop: de la guerra de pandillas y el grafiti al gangsta rap
Jeff Chang

Rey del mundo: Muhammad Ali y el nacimiento de un héroe americano
David Remnick

Mumbo Jumbo
Ishmael Reed

El complejo arte-arquitectura
Hal Foster

Cómo ser antirracista
Ibram X. Kendi

El origen de los otros
Toni Morrison

Bass Culture: La historia del reggae
Lloyd Bradley y Tomás Cobos

Cine de Terror
Paul Duncan y Jürgen Müller


A reading list on architecture by artist Amanda Williams.

Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America
Sean Anderson and Mabel O. Wilson

War and Architecture, Pamphlet Architecture 15
Lebbeus Woods

Race, Culture, and the City: A Pedagogy for Black Urban Struggle
Stephen Nathan Haymes

Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums
Mabel O. Wilson

CriticalProductive: A Journal of Architecture Urbanism and Cultural Theory 1, no. 1
Milton S. F. Curry


A reading list on education by educator Lorena Germán.

This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work
Tiffany Jewell
Illustrated by Aurélia Durand

We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom
Bettina L. Love

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
Monique W. Morris

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
Resmaa Menakem

Start Here, Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community
Liz Kleinrock


A reading list on horror by author Kier-La Janisse.

Horror Noire: A History of Black American Horror from the 1890s to Present
Robin R. Means Coleman

Corridors: Passages of Modernity
Roger Luckhurst

The Bad Trip: Dark Omens, New Worlds and the End of the Sixties
James Riley

The Rural Gothic in American Popular Culture: Backwoods Horror and Terror in the Wilderness
Bernice M. Murphy

Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents
Stephen Thrower


A reading list on music by historian Jeff Chang.

Hip-Hop: The Complete Archives
Steven Hager

Mumbo Jumbo
Ishmael Reed

Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm
Dan Charnas

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down
Joan Morgan

Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America
Saidiya V. Hartman


A reading list on sports by journalist Robert Scoop Jackson.

Black Market: An Insider’s Journey into the High-Stakes World of College Basketball
Merl Code

Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story
David Wolf with Connie Hawkins

Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete
William C. Rhoden

Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball
Lawrence D. Hogan

King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero
David Remnick

From the Artist

A reading list by artist Gary Simmons.

Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader
Tiffany Jewell

Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop
Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen

The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem
Marcus Samuelsson

Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics
Hal Foster

Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices
Stuart Hall

Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination
Avery F. Gordon

The Power Broker
Robert Caro

Flyboy in the Buttermilk
Greg Tate

The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century
Mark Lamster

Horror at the Drive-In
Gary D. Rhodes (Editor)

Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide
Josiah Howard

Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film
Adilifu Nama

Among the Thugs: The Experience, and the Seduction, of Crowd Violence
Bill Buford

Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race, Politics, and Popular Culture
Eric Greene

Birth of an Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation
Nicholas Sammond

The Colored Cartoon: Black Presentation in American Animated Short Films, 1907-1954
Christopher P. Lehman

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang

Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop
Jeff Chang

Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King
Lloyd Bradley

Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae
Michael Veal

Critical Race Theory
Kimberlé Crenshaw

Black Girls Matter
Kimberlé Crenshaw

Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self
Rebecca Walker

To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism
Rebecca Walker (Editor)

Ghetto Gastro Presents Black Power Kitchen
Osayi Endolyn, Jon Gray, Pierre Serrao, Lester Walker

Son of the City: A Memoir
Dante Ross

Rockers Galore
Josh Cheuse

Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America
Michael Eric Dyson

People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
David Katz

The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop—and Why It Matters
Tricia Rose