February is Black History Month in the USA. Therefore, I wanted to share some books by black authors that are a must-read. It’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction to try and find something that would suit everyone.
This list is a mix of books I read and some that I did not, but that comes highly recommended. It’s a great base to educate ourselves on Black History, not only during this month but all year round.
Black History Month was officially recognised in 1976 by President Ford. But it’s true origins go back to 1915 when Woodson and Moorland founded an organization to study and promote the achievements of Black people and its descendants.
This year theme is Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity focusing on the diaspora of families across the United States. The choice of books in this article is not only focused on this theme. It has a more broaden reach.
Let’s dive in first with the non fiction books by black authors:
1.’Women, race and class’ by Angela Y. Davis. – From slavery to contemporary injustices, the political activists brings us through the history of race, gender and social inequality of women.
2.‘The girl who smiled beads’ by Clemantine Wamariya. – During the Rwandan Civil War two sisters escape the horror of it. As a result, they will experience the cruelty of humanity, until they will find refuge in America.
3.‘Well-read black girl’ by Glory Edim. – An anthology of essays by the best black women’s writers. In order to highlight the importance of finding ourselves in literature no matter our background.
4.‘Why I am no longer talking to white people about race’ by Reni-Eddo Lodge – To sump up, one of the best books I read last year. Focusing on race-related issues in today’s Britain.
5.‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama – In addition to being one of the most known women in the last few years, Michelle Obama defied every expectation. From her childhood to the White House, a powerful woman inspiring millions. (Check our review here)
6.‘The new Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander – One of the most important nonfiction books of the century. Written by a political activist and lawyer, it accounts the re birth of the social caste system in the USA.
7.‘I know why the caged bird sings’ by Dr Maya Angelou. – Autobiographical testament of one of the most talented black writers. Accounting for a life of resilience and discrimination.
8.‘Between the world and me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates. – A letter to his adolescent son to explain the current crisis in America. Through memories, reportages and histories and a transcendent vision way forward.
9.‘The fire next time’ by James Baldwin. – A plea to end the racial nightmare in America in the form of letters. Written by one greatest voice of his time, giving highlight to the emerging civil right movement.
10.’Notes of a native son’ by James Baldwin. – Collections of essays reminiscing the life in Harlem and personal experiences at the dawn of the civil right movements
11.‘The hate u give’ by Angie Thomas. – After watching he best friend die, Starr is looking for justice. She will risk everything she knows and she loves, in this powerful tale.
12.’Queenie’ by Candice Carty-Williams. – A young woman who after a break up finds herself looking for love and acceptance. A take on life, race and family.
13.‘The gilded ones’ by Namina Forna. – West African inspired fantasy series. Featuring Deka, a young woman that has to prove her purity. But, after bleeding gold, Deka has to face the consequences. An empowering tale with a fierce protagonist.
14.’Such a fun age’ by Kiley Reid. – After being accused of kidnapping, Emira warily accepts the help of Alix, mother of the child and fierce feminist. The two will embark in a messy journey of privilege and discovery.
15.‘The girl with the louding voice’ by Abi Daré. – Adunni dreams of an education and helping her family living a more comfortable life. However, her father sells her as a third wife, Adunni will face tragedies but refuses to let herself be silenced.
16.‘The underground railroad’ by Colson Whitehead. – Cora is a slave and an outcast among the other slaves. With a newly arrived Cesar, they escape the plantation through the underground railroad. Meanwhile being chased, the duo will realise the outside world is not as promising as they thought.
17.‘Legendborn’ by Tracy Deonn. – After her mother dies, Bree leaves everything behind for an early college program. After an accidental encounter with magic, she faces a new world. After discovering her powers and new truths about her mother’s, she joins the ranks of a secret society. In addition to battling the demonic forces and in the hope of finding justice. (Check out our review here)
18.‘Red at the bone’ by Jacqueline Woodson. – A recount of Melody’s family history. After an unexpected pregnancy that brought two families together as well as their hopes and disappointments to her daily life. Exploring sexual desire, class identity and life-altering decisions.
19.‘The colour purple’ by Alice Walker. – Depicting the life of African American women breaking the silence on abuse. Highlighting the bravery, resilience, love struggle and pain of these women in a compassionate tale.
20.‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones. – Despite being the embodiment of the American dream, Celestial and Roy are separated by an unjust conviction. Meanwhile, Celestial takes comfort in Andre until Roy’s conviction gets overturned. An insightful tale about injustice and forces behind the characters control.
Did you read any of these books by black authors? Have you got any favourites or some more to recommend? Let us know in the comments x