The Best Books by Black Authors to Add to Your Bookshelf Rig

2021-09-26 16:54:09 [db:来源]

best books by black authorsSanchi Oberoi

This is not an anti-racist reading list. This is a list of excellent books written by Black authors. Because like many things in American society, the cultural contributions of Black people often get overlooked—or worse, appropriated—in favor of the works of white people.

Maybe you've never even taken into account an author's race when choosing a book. Maybe your mode is more nonchalantly perusing a book store on a Saturday afternoon or scrolling through Amazon's bestseller's list until you find a title that piques your interest. But perhaps you glanced over at your bookshelf and realized that you haven't read a single thing from the Black perspective recently. It's not hard to change that, so let's get started.

Whether you gravitate towards a murder-y thriller (consider Oyinkan Braithwaite's "My Sister, the Serial Killer") or you're more in a self-help kind of mood (check out Elaine Welteroth's "More Than Enough"), a great read by a Black writer is here for you. As I write this, I'm still thinking about the phenomenal book I last read: Kiley's Reid's "Such a Fun Age." And I have Brit Bennett's "The Vanishing Half" and Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist" sitting in a pile by my bed. Some of the books on this list will teach you about Black history, while others will just make you laugh out loud. As Nic Stone, author of the best-selling young adult novel Dear Martin, wrote in an opinion piece for Cosmo, "We must also read books about Black people—especially Black children—just…living." So if you're looking to add a few titles to your reading list, keep scrolling to find the best books by Black authors.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below1'The Turner House' by Angela FlournoyMariner BooksNow 27% off SHOP

If you thought your home was busy, let me introduce you to the Turner house. Thirteen Turner children grew up here, left, experienced the death of their father here, and eventually brought their own children here, too. But when their mother gets sick, the Turners are called home once again to figure out the future of the house, as well as deal with the ways the house has shaped them—both good and bad—into the people they are today.

2'Indigo' by Beverly JenkinsCreatespace Independent Publishing Platform $17 AT AMAZON

No one can write a high-stakes romance novel quite like Beverly Jenkins. In Indigo, Hester Wyatt escaped slavery as a child and has now become a bad ass member of Michigan's Underground railroad. When she's brought an injured man for her to hide, she very quickly regrets her decision to take him in because he's just so dang rude. But as he heals and they get to know each other more, they may just find a new kind of freedom in true love.

3'Kindred' by Octavia E. ButlerBeacon PressNow 34% off $10 AT AMAZON

Sci-fi fans will LOVE this book from Octavia Butler. Part memoir, part fantasy, and part historical fiction, you won't be able to stop reading from the first page to the last. Dana, a 26-year-old in 1970s L.A., finds herself abruptly taken back in time to a plantation in the pre-Civil War South where she has been summoned to save the drowning son of a white plantation owner. She keeps getting pulled back in time to the plantation, and with her stays getting longer and longer each time, Dana gets intimately involved in the community there. It's an important look at the experience of slavery from the perspective of a modern woman.

4'The Nickel Boys' by Colson WhiteheadAnchorNow 31% off $11 AT AMAZON

If fictional stories based on true events are your thing, then The Nickel Boys is calling your name. Based on a very real and very horrifying reform school that operated in Tallahassee for 111 years, this book tells the story of Elwood Curtis, a young boy who was unfairly sentenced to the juvenile reformatory. Elwood's only joy there is his friendship with another young boy, Turner, whose hardened belief that the world is crooked has a profound effect on Elwood.

5'How We Fight for Our Lives' by Saeed JonesSimon & SchusterNow 27% off $12 AT AMAZON

This heart-wrenching memoir from poet Saeed Jones gives you a  look at what it was like growing up as a gay, Black man in the South. He goes through all of his formative experiences and how he figured out his place in his family and in the world. The story, as well as how beautifully its written, will have you wanting to soak up every last word.

6'The Truths We Hold: An American Journey' by Kamala HarrisPenguin BooksNow 71% off $5 AT AMAZON

Excuse me, everyone, our future VP is speaking. In her memoir, Kamala Harris goes through her life from growing up in Oakland as the daughter of immigrants whose activism played a big role in her life, to becoming the "smart on crime" District Attorney for San Francisco, to becoming the future first female Vice President. If you're looking for some nuggets of wisdom on leadership and problem solving, Kamala's gotchu!

7'We Love You, Charlie Freeman' by Kaitlyn GreenidgeAlgonquin BooksNow 41% off $10 AT AMAZON

When the Freeman family (Charles, Laurel, and their two daughters, Charlotte and Callie) are invited to the Toneybee Institute to participate in a research experiment, they learn that they'll have to live in an apartment on the institute's campus with Charlie, a young chimpanzee. They are supposed to teach sign language (which they all speak) to Charlie and to treat him as a member of their family. But Charlotte soon makes a very shocking discovery about Toneybe's history of, er, questionable studies.

8'Homegoing' by Yaa GyasiVintageNow 48% off $9 AT AMAZON

Homegoing will have you feeling all the feels as it takes you through the journey of two sisters and eight generations of their descendants. From Ghana, to the plantations of Mississippi, to the Civil War, to the Jazz Age in New York City, this novel dives into the issues of slavery both for those who were taken and those who were left behind.

9'Year of Yes' by Shonda RhimesSimon & SchusterNow 46% off $10 AT AMAZON

Shonda Rhimes isn't only cranking out bingeable shows that you can't stop rewatching (hello, Bridgerton) but she also spent an entire year saying "YES!" to everything that scared her and wrote all about it. She also weaves in some stories from her childhood and adolescence so you can see what exactly made her the successful writer she is today.

10'Black Leopard, Red Wolf' Marlon JamesRiverhead BooksNow 18% off $15 AT AMAZON

Raise your hand if you miss Game of Thrones and need a new fantasy series to get into! 'Cause let me tell you, this is it.Tracker is known for his unmatched hunting skills, and when he starts using them to hunt down a mysterious boy who's been missing for three years, the usually solitary Tracker finds himself working as part of a rag-tag team full of interesting characters, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. Oh, and it's the first book in a trilogy, so once you're done with this one, there are two more you can read.

11'Such a Fun Age' by Kiley Reid$24 AT BOOKSHOP

Prepare to be blown away by Kiley Reid's debut novel. What starts with a 20-something being wrongfully accused of kidnapping the child she babysits quickly evolves into a story of class, race, and how good intentions don't always lead to good outcomes. You won't be able to put this one down. Seriously. 

12'Bad Feminist' by Roxane Gay $16 AT BOOKSHOP

This might be the most "duh" statement of the century, but women face a lot of judgement in the world. Being a feminist means advocating for equality, of course, but it's  more nuanced than that.  Roxane Gay doesn't shy away from the sometimes uncomfortable reality of loving things that might be considered "unfeminist." 

13"The Vanishing Half" by Brit BennettRiverhead BooksNow 35% off $17 AT AMAZON

Imagine having an identical twin sister. Now, imagine your sister being able to pass as a member of a completely different race. Meet the Vignes sisters. The plot of Brit Bennett's second novel is enough to grab anyone's interest, but you'll become enraptured as you learn more about the history of Black people passing as white. 

14"An American Marriage" by Tayari JonesAlgonquin BooksNow 24% off $13 AT AMAZON

What does it mean to be husband and wife? Can marriage overcome the most unthinkable circumstances? These are the questions that author Tayari Jones seeks to answer in her moving novel about newlyweds Celestial and Roy. After Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit, Celestial seeks comfort in Roy's friend (and the best man at their wedding). When Roy is released, the three former lovers/former friends are forced to figure out how to move forward. Complicated! BTW, Barack Obama is a fan of this book, so you know it's good.

15"More Than Enough" by Elaine WelterothPenguin BooksNow 13% off $15 AT AMAZON

Elaine Welteroth became the youngest Editor-in-Chief in Condé Nast's 107-year-old history and the second Black person to ever hold the title after being promoted to EIC of Teen Vogue. That means she definitely knows a thing or two about rising through the career ranks. If you've ever wondered if you deserve to take up space (and honestly, who hasn't?), then turn to her memoir for advice.

16"Queenie" by Candice Carty-WilliamsGallery/Scout PressNow 46% off $9 AT AMAZON

After a brutal breakup, Queenie, a 25-year-old Jamaican-British woman, finds herself playing the comparison game. She goes from guy to guy looking for meaning, but ends up getting hurt time and time again. Totally relatable to anyone trying to find themselves in their 20s, this book will make you feel less alone.

17"We Should All Be Feminists" by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieAnchor BooksNow 11% off $8 AT AMAZON

If you're like me, then you know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's name because of Beyoncé. Don't pretend like you don't know what song I'm talking about. Hearing her voice in "***Flawless" always makes me feel like a badass. The thing is, the speech you hear in that song is actually from this book. "We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are," she writes, "Feminist: The person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes." 

18"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya AngelouSaizo $7 AT BOOKSHOP

How many times have you heard someone say, "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst?" More than twice, I bet. We have Maya Angelou's autobiographical account of her childhood to thank for that piece of wisdom. Poetic, powerful, and highly quotable, this book is well worth a read. 

19"The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander$17 AT BOOKSHOP

Here, Michelle Alexander argues that our country's racist Jim Crow laws are far from over—they've just been redesigned in more subtle, insidious ways. An especially relevant read in this moment of the Black Lives Matter movement.

20"My Sister, the Serial Killer" by Oyinkan Braithwaite$14 AT BOOKSHOP

Beautiful, the favorite, and possibly sociopathic—that's how to describe Korede’s sister, Ayoola. After Ayoola's third boyfriend winds up dead, Korede is forced to figure out exactly how far she's willing to go to protect her sister. And you thought your family was complicated.

21"The Hate U Give" by Angie ThomasBALZER BRAYNow 32% off $13 AT AMAZON

To better understand what it's like to be directly affected by police brutality, read "The Hate U Give." (And then watch the movie starring Amandla Stenberg.) Starr finds herself torn between using her voice or staying silent when her friend is murdered by a cop. As the only witness to the crime, it's up to her to fight for justice. 

22"Beloved" by Toni Morrison$15 AT BOOKSHOP

Fair warning, the late Toni Morrison's novel is the opposite of a light read. But that doesn't mean you should't crack it open. Sethe's story will break your heart. She was born into slavery and eventually escaped to Ohio, but not before her unnamed baby died. Now she's haunted by her child as she tries to forget the traumatic experiences in her past.

23"Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison$15 AT BOOKSHOP

Like a few other titles on this list, Ralph Ellison's book (which was originally credited to an unknown author) is about overcoming prejudice in the South. A nameless narrator lives in a southern Black community, attends college, later gets expelled, and ultimately moves to New York City. Despite the gravity of the subjects, the witty narration makes this book a joy to read. 

24"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker$16 AT BOOKSHOP

How to even quantify "The Color Purple's" impact? Alice Walker's modern classic follows the lives of Black sisters Celie and Nettie during twentieth-century Georgia. After they're separated as children, they communicate through letters spanning 20 years. The powerful story sheds light on horrific domestic and sexual abuse, but shows that growth can spring from pain.

25"I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness" by Austin Channing BrownConvergent BooksNow 54% off $12 AT AMAZON

When did you first learn about race, and that the construct of race is used to ensure that people in our society have very different experiences? Austin Channing Brown was seven. After discovering that her parents named her Austin so white employers would think that she's a white man, she embarks on a journey to find out what it means to be Black in America. Especially timely, this book is a master class in the highly personal experience of race and racism. 

26"From Scratch" by Tembi LockeSimon & SchusterNow 28% off $12 AT AMAZON

Love at first sight is just the beginning of the (true) story for Tembi and Saro. After meeting in France, they're forced to face Saro's disapproving Italian family. Bringing home a Black American woman just isn't up to their, uh, super racist standards.  Fast-forward several years and Tembi and Saro are living in Los Angeles with their adopted daughter. When Saro gets sick, they have to move to Italy and navigate life with his estranged family. 

27"Becoming" by Michelle ObamaCrown Publishing Group (NY)Now 63% off $12 AT AMAZON

Does Michelle Obama's bestselling book even need a review? No, but I'll indulge you anyway. Being the First Lady for eight years is bound to come with its fair share of knock-your-socks-off stories. Sure, MO's memoir delivers on juicy political anecdotes, but more importantly, it's an inspiring look at her journey from the South Side of Chicago to the White House. 

28"The Girl with the Louding Voice" by Abi Daré$24 AT BOOKSHOP

Being a teenager isn't easy. Just saying the words braces, acne, and puberty are enough to make me—a fully grown woman—shudder. For Adunni, her main priority growing up in Nigeria is to get an education, against all odds. This powerful story of a girl intent on creating a better life for herself is enough to give you hope. Yes, even this year. 

29"Hunger" by Roxane GayHarper Perennial $11 AT AMAZON

This is the second Roxane Gay book on this list, but I'm given her more real estate for good reason. This brutally candid memoir, which focuses on body image, weight, food, and sexual violence, will at times makes you cringe. But it'll also make you think differently about what it's like to move through the world in a body that isn't considered "acceptable."

30"Ordinary Light" by Tracy K. SmithVintageNow 18% off $14 AT AMAZON

This unique coming-of-age story is all about the intersection of race, faith, and family. Smith, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, reflects on her relationship with her mother, who was a devout Baptist, in a way that will make you question how you understand the world around you...and yourself.

31"You Can't Touch My Hair" by Phoebe RobinsonPlume BooksNow 40% off $10 AT AMAZON

The 2 Dope Queens podcast host's collection of essays is delightful for many, many reasons. Robinson uses her wit to tackle a bunch of complicated issues, from being called "the Black friend" to being accused of listening to white musicians. Meaningful and hilarious, you'll want to read this one more than once. 

32"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi CoatesOne WorldNow 50% off $13 AT AMAZON

It's not often you read a book that really sticks with you. I mean, a book that you can't get out of your head. "Between the World and Me" is one of those books. The truth is that America is built on the construct of "race," which, Coates explains, continues to harm all of us every single day.

33"The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" by Issa Rae37 INKNow 38% off $10 AT AMAZON

Is 👏🏾 sa 👏🏾 Rae 👏🏾. If you've ever stumbled on an episode of Insecure, then you know how brilliant Issa is. "Misadventures" is titled after her popular web series, and showcases why she's become a household name. If you're the least bit introverted, shy, or awkward, you'll devour this book.

34"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" as told to Alex HaleyBallantine BooksNow 13% off $7 AT AMAZON

In most intellectual circles, Malcolm X's autobiography is required reading. As a Muslim minister, human rights activist, and an important figure in the civil rights movement, he fought for rights that can easily be taken for granted today. We've come a long way since his assassination, but after reading his autobiography, you'll realize there's still so much work to be done.

35"God Help the Child" by Toni MorrisonVintage BooksNow 33% off $10 AT AMAZON

The late Toni Morrison, the author of "Beloved," wrote this beautiful story about how childhood shapes our adulthood—for better or for worse. A young woman, who calls herself Bride, is beautiful, but her mother rejects her partly because of her dark skin. In this modern-day fairytale, we witness her process of reconciling her relationship with her mother and learning to live with the scars from her past.

36"Monday's Not Coming" by Tiffany D. JacksonKatherine Tegen BooksNow 10% off $11 AT AMAZON

Monday Charles goes missing, and only her BFF Claudia seems to realize it. After all, they've been close since they were kids. When Monday's family is suspiciously unhelpful in Claudia's search for her friend, she's forced to confront the mystery all by herself. 

37"Survival of the Thickest" by MIchelle Buteau$25 AT BOOKSHOP

Known for her effortless delivery of laugh-out-loud stories, Michelle Buteau brings that same cheekiness and hilarity to her book. Warning, though, reading this may cause you to watch all of her comedy specials and every single movie and TV show she's ever been in in an alarmingly short period of time. 

38"Another Country" by James BaldwinVintageNow 12% off $15 AT AMAZON

2020 is a hot mess of a year, but compared to the 1960s, when it was considered wrong to write about interracial relationships, bisexuality, and infidelity, it's kind of a cake walk. Baldwin's passionate story was seen as taboo at the time he published it, but now he's praised—rightfully so—for his brilliant prose.



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