In honour of Black History Month, or African Heritage Month as we call it where I live, I’ve compiled a list of some great books I’ve read by black authors. As this list is only of eight books, it is clearly by no means exhaustive! These ones, however, I have read and really enjoyed so I wanted to share them with you. If you are looking to further diversify your reading (we should all want to), add these to your TBR 🙂 Here are eight awesome books by black authors!
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Paperback, 320 pages12
Published August 5th 2014 by Harper Perennial
Okay, okay, I’m going to start with a bit of a cheat, BUT, I know this one will be a favorite. I’m halfway through it and I’m absolutely in love. Even if somehow the rest of it totally sucked, I would still love it based on the first half. Each essay I have devoured has been so smart and on point. Gay has a knack of verbalizing things I’ve felt but didn’t have the language for. She also deftly challenges perceptions of feminism and what it means to be a feminist. I’m. In. Love.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published February 28th 2017 by Balzer + Bray
This book is amazing. I think we all know that by now! It’s a #1 NYT bestseller, it’s being made into a movie, and it’s been at the top of so many best-of lists. When I read this one, I couldn’t put it down. Starr is such an amazing character and what she goes through is both absolutely heartbreaking, and uplifting. She’s such a strong character, and this book shines a light on the important Black Lives Matter movement. If you haven’t read this book yet, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. I also had the pleasure of attending a Q&A and signing Angie Thomas was part of and just, heart eyes. All the heart eyes.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Algonquin Books
This was the first book I read this year, and I already know it’s going to be on my best of 2018 list. Compelling, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking, this book is complex and amazing read that deals with the realities of race and the justice system. However, it doesn’t do this in the usual ways. Instead, it explores this through relationships and lives that are upended, and the quiet consequences therein. I’ve written a full review if you want to check it out!
The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
Paperback, 468 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Orbit
This award-winning start to an award-winning series deserves any and all hype it gets. I devoured all three books in a row and I almost never do that with series. Diverse and moving, this book tackles what it means to be human, and it does so combined with amazing world-building. It was one of the best books I read in 2017!
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Audible Audio, Unabridged
Published December 8th 2016 by Audible Studios
I listened to the audiobook for this one and I highly recommend it! Trevor Noah is hilarious and is great to listen to, especially when he does impressions of his mother. Noah may be a comedian (and you can tell), but his stories here are also touching and harrowing. As he recounts his time growing up in South Africa under apartheid, and then in the post-apartheid aftermath, we see his family as a microcosm of this reality. His very life was illegal as the son of a white man and a black woman. We see the strength and the love of a woman for her son, and how that love, coupled with growing up in that culture, made Trevor Noah the man he is today.
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Hardcover, 63 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Knopf Publishing Group
This book is a short one, coming in at under 70 pages, and I read it in one sitting. It, however, is a hard hitter. As I read it, I cried, I highlighted passages, I paused for reflection. Everything Adichie says in here I wish someone had told me as a child, as a young woman. At the very least, I had someone saying it to me now. A beautiful, beautiful book and a must-read.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Riverhead Books
The Mothers is a beautiful and poignant story set in a close-knit community in California. Bennett peoples her story with nuanced characters as they come of age, keep secrets, and deal with grief. Through the theme of motherhood, she shows us a mother lost, a would-be mother who didn’t want to be a mother, a protective mother, a chorus of church-lady mothers. We see the effect of these different types of mothers as they play out in a complex yet somehow simple narrative, imbued with humanity and social politics.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Delacorte Press
A cute and compelling young adult story that explores first love and the realities of living as an immigrant in the US–documented or otherwise. Set over twelve hours, Natasha and Daniel meet, connect, and try to decide if fate exists.
What are your favourite books by black authors? Which ones should I put at the top of my TBR?
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.