We’re being mindful moving forward through this year. It’s one thing to be aware, but it’s another to be intentional about our choices. Part of our mission to be ACTIVELY anti-racist is adding Black voices to our libraries.
Books By Black Authors We Personally Recommend
In that spirit, we’ve compiled a list of some of our current favorite reads and/or what we’re reading now — all by Black authors — to share with ya’ll. If you have a suggestion for us to add to our Next Reads List, feel free to shout it out in the comments!
Shana’s Book Recommendation
Such a Fun Age – This is my next read! Author Kiley Reid is Philadelphia-based(!!) and has written a book that Trevor Noah described as, “funny, engaging, and wonderfully awkward.” The basic premise is that the main character, Emira, gets racially profiled while babysitting the child of a wealthy white woman. As they try to move forward from this point…things get awkward. I highly recommend watching Trevor Noah’s interview with the author to find out more. (Suffice to say that Kiley Reid is my new girl crush.)
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Bookshop.org
Hair Love – I bought this picture book for Scotti’s daughter, Greenlea, and it’s SO good. It has the same pull as watching a good makeover…but without the “before” shame. It’s just a bunch of seriously delightful hairstyles and how they make the little girl feel (as well as a really sweet father-daughter relationship).
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry + Vashti Harrison: Bookshop.org
Cam’s Book Recommendation
An American Marriage – My sister loaned me this book (from her well-curated home library. I seriously want to borrow all of her books). This is an incredible novel about the marriage of a middle-class African-American couple, Roy and Celestial, who live in Atlanta and whose lives are torn apart when Roy is wrongfully convicted of a rape he did not commit. Tayari’s style of writing is incredibly powerful — raw, intentional and engaging.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: Good Books | Amazon
Scotti’s Book Recommendations
I Am Enough is one of my favorite books to read to Greenlea. She loves the pictures (they depict a diverse group of girls) and always joins me in the last phrase: “I am enough!” I love the rhyming scheme and general message of love and acceptance. “. . . And in the end, we are right here to live a life of love, not fear . . . ”
I Am Enough by Grace Byers + Keturah A. Bobo: Multicultural Bookstore + Gifts | Amazon
Children of Blood and Bone is an awesome young adult fantasy novel–but the author’s note at the end puts it in context of what’s happening reality. She says it “was written during a time where I kept turning on the news and seeing stories of unarmed black men, women, and children being shot by the police. I felt afraid and angry and helpless but this book was the one thing that made me feel like I could do something about it . . . if just one person could read it and have their hearts or minds changed, then I would’ve done something meaningful against a problem that often feels so much bigger than myself.” (The sequel is out as well!)
Children of Blood + Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: Racial Justice Bookshelf | Amazon
Laura’s Book Recommendations
The Water Dancer is next up on my list to read (I’m currently finishing up the first Children of Blood and Bone book Scotti recommended above!) My SIL said it was a book she could not put down, incredibly written and engaging. If you haven’t heard of this one, it’s been a #1 New York Times bestseller, an Oprah’s Book Club selection, and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Rolling Stone said:
“Ta-Nehisi Coates is the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race with his 2015 memoir, Between the World and Me. So naturally his debut novel comes with slightly unrealistic expectations—and then proceeds to exceed them. The Water Dancer . . . is a work of both staggering imagination and rich historical significance. . . . What’s most powerful is the way Coates enlists his notions of the fantastic, as well as his fluid prose, to probe a wound that never seems to heal. . . . Timeless and instantly canon-worthy.”
The Water Dancer by Ta-nehisi Coates: Ashay By the Bay bookstore | Amazon
Creative Quest is a book I’ve been enjoying for the past few months off and on (how I tend to read all books, but this one is worth referring back to and already has dog-eared pages galore). It’s an incredible dive into the world and mind of musician/artist/creator Questlove. I’m so tempted to get the audiobook version, too, because I mean, Questlove. I highly recommend it for anyone in a creative field or intrigued by how inspiration and the creative process works. One of my favorite bits so far is when Questlove is talking about his mentor, manager, and creative influence, Richard Nichols, who was with The Roots from the early years:
“He also liked sometimes to talk in riddles. He had that kind of Zen master ability, like he was training ninjas, and in a way he was–ninjas of the mind. He once said something to me about how you always have to be in the position of both knowing everything and knowing nothing. I know exactly what he meant, and I don’t know what he meant at all.”
Creative Quest by Questlove: Third Eye Books in Portland | Amazon
Julieta’s Book Recommendations
Tell Somebody holds a special place in our library. Aleesha was molested by her maternal grandfather when she was a child and has since now created the Tell Somebody organization to give strength to survivors and avoid more kids having to go through this. This book teaches children how to protect themselves, and to always speak up and tell somebody. We read it many times when it first came out, and now I reach for it at least once a month. It has the words I don’t to explain this kind of thing to my kids. Also available in Spanish. I have it in both.
Tell Somebody by Aleesha Barlow: Amazon l Spanish Version
End Silenced Abuse: Tell Somebody While looking for the link to the book above, I noticed she also has this book about her story. In Oprah’s words, “Aleesha Barlow is the perfect role model for turning pain into power!”
End Silenced Abuse by Aleesha Barlow: The Lit Bar: Bookstores and Chill | Amazon
Black Heroes Got it for my kids, but guess who’s learning more? Me! Stories about heroes from ancient Africa to the modern-day USA. It’s fantastic.
Black Heroes by Arlisha Norwood: The Lit Bar: Bookstores and Chill l Amazon
Linzi’s Book Recommendation
I first read Native Stranger by Eddy Harris, when I was in college (MANY years ago), but it remains a favorite. A journey through the continent of Africa through Harris’ Black American eyes. It’s one of the first books that completely expanded my view of culture, ancestry, skin color, human interaction and the gift of travel.
Native Stranger by Eddy Harris: Amazon | Thriftbooks | Ebay
Kat’s Book Recommendation
I recently bought More Than Enough, and from what I have read so far, I am hooked! I love a good book about a powerful boss babe and this one gives me all those vibes. What I find most relatable is that Elaine talks about navigating as a leader in all-white spaces, which has been my experience as a professional. She gives advice, and reading about her experiences as a young VP working at Conde Nast is both inspiring and challenging all at the same time. Her book talks about the successes she faced as well as the many setbacks and mistreatment she experienced.
More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth: Amazon | BookShop
Jess’ Book Recommendations
Brown Girl Dreaming and Red at the Bone – In what seems like a different lifetime, I was an elementary teacher, and it was in graduate school where I was introduced to the prolific author Jacqueline Woodson, renowned as one of the best authors of this generation. One of the amazing things about her books is that she has the ability to write stunning adult novels, as well as beautiful books for kids, like Brown Girl Dreaming, a National Book Award winner and Newbery Honor Book. I highly recommend you remember her name and download any of her books. Right now I am just starting her bestseller: Red at the Bone.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: Amazon | Thriftbooks | eBay
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: Amazon | Thriftbooks | eBay
Have any favorites to share? Leave us a comment!
– Team TME
I love book recommendations – thanks!
Add anything written by Jason Reynolds to your list. He is amazing.
Blacktop Wasteland. Stunning novel.
Contemporary novel: Raven Leilani’s Luster. Hilarious, dirty as hell, brilliantly written.
Older novel: Gwendolyn Brooks’s Maud Martha. Few realize she also wrote fiction. An incredible coming-of-age-and-beyond story.
Kids’ book: Few people remember that the heroine of the beloved picture book Corduroy (about the stuffed bear who finds a home) is a little Black girl. Fantastic book and ahead of its time.
I’ll second the plug for “Red at the Bone”. Heartbreakingly good.
This summer one of my favorites was “The Yellow House” by Sarah Broom. It is the sweeping story of a family forever shaped and changed by the city of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. I just recently found out that Tulane made it the required summer reading for incoming first year students.
Immaculee Ilibagiza survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide by hiding in a tiny bathroom with several other women for 3 months. This is her true story of survival, how she deepened her faith through this experience, and forgave those who slaughtered her family. She has other books too on the apparations of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus in Kibeho, Rwanda in the 1980s, when she was a girl.
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust https://www.amazon.com/dp/1401944329/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_5dGxFbYK0S9F6
I recently read Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward and it has left a lasting impression on me. Then I recently came across an article she wrote in Vanity Fair as well. She is a beautiful writer.
Currently listening to the audible audiobook and it is AMAZE: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americanah
“Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay“ by Phoebe Robinson (from 2 Dope Queens) is HILARIOUS. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is excellent (movie was good too).
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Any book by Samantha Irby… I just read, “Wow, No Thank You” and learned it’s her 3rd book and I have to go back and get the others. Hilarious essays. Just absolutely hilarious… I was laughing in the waiting room while getting my car serviced and people were staring at me. Worth it!
If you want something light and fun (and rated R), Jasmine Guillory’s romance novels are great. I also highly recommend “The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Dare and “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett.
The Very First Time by Emunah Y’srael