A highly requested post has been books I recommend by Black authors. I am sharing my favorites here that I’d recommend reading. As I’m committing to reading more about anti-racism and even more Black stories, I’m sure you’ll see even more recommendations in my monthly roundups. But for now, this is just what I’ve already read and enjoyed:
I highly recommend this book. I think about it frequently still. The book follows two young lovers from Nigeria and their diverging paths. Ifemelu goes to the United States for college and Obinze ends up in London as an undocumented immigrant. It covers so many issues: race, class, education, immigration…. Will give you a lot to think about.
Oh man, this is another book that will kind of sit with you for a while. I didn’t loooove this book when I first read it, but I swear I kept coming back to it in my head and reprocessing it. The love story is told through the exchanging of letters, so you get different perspectives as the novel unfolds. It’s quite a powerful and heartbreaking story.
I couldn’t put down Michelle Obama’s memoir. I loved getting a peek behind the curtain at her childhood, how she and Barack Obama met, their journey to the White House, and what it was like as First Lady.
This memoir by actor Tembi Locke kind of gutted me. It is phenomenal. I listened to the audiobook and, if you’re into audiobooks, I think this is one worth listening to. Let me just say, I’m not going to give the memoir justice with a quick description, but it follows Tembi’s journey after her husband’s death while she connects with his family in Sicily.
While technically a young adult book. it’s a really fantastic read and more relevant than ever. The main character Starr lives in two separate worlds: Garden Heights where she lives with her family and the elite private school she attends. Starr witnesses her childhood best friend get shot by the police. His death becomes national news and Starr is the only witness and she finds herself in the center of the public controversy.
This is the true story of the Black women who were the “human calculators” during the Space Race. While the astronauts may have gotten all the glory, this group of women are heroes doing the math needed to send the shuttles into space. The book is fantastic (so is the movie!) and it covers their life story, including the racism they faced while working on the mission to space.
Note: Rebecca Skloot, the author, is white but I wanted to include this book in the list because I think Henrietta Lacks’ story is so important. I was blown away learning about Henrietta Lacks. If you’ve ever taken a science class where they reference or use “HeLa” cells– they’re from Henrietta Lacks. The contribution of her cells were incredibly helpful for advances in science… however, major ethical concerns were overlooked because Henrietta was a Black woman.
I read this last summer and simply could not put it down. While a novel, it reads like non-fiction and it’s in fact based on a true story of a reform school for boys in Florida. Warning: it is heartbreaking… but such a well-told story.
Jacqueline Woodson is a gifted storyteller. Red at the Bone is a quick read, but you’ll want to read it a second time to go back and read it again to make sure you didn’t miss any details. It tackles family, class, motherhood. Teenage pregnancy, unfulfilled dreams and hopes for a better future, life & death.
This is an excellent contemporary fictional novel. The book opens with a 25 year old Black babysitter getting questioned by a security guard in a grocery store because her charge is white. At first it seems like that is going to be the story, but it’s more than that. The book covers both the perspective of Emira and Alix (her boss) as they both navigate their own lives. Emira is in that mid-twenty haze of finding herself (I related to her feelings of being young but also not that young and watching her friends succeed while she felt stuck) and Alix is trying to find her footing in her career again after leaving her beloved city of New York and having two children. It’s a GREAT story that made me think quite a lot without being “heavy.” I found myself laughing out loud at some of the awkward and hilarious and cringeworthy moments.