I’m loving that in the past week book Twitter and Bookstagram have been full of book recommendations by Black authors and anti-racism educational texts. My phone is full of screenshots so I can add them to my Goodreads TBR. But, we have to make an effort to actually read all these books and support BIPOC authors year round. Not just during their respected history months or when a tragedy occurs. As book bloggers we have the opportunity to talk about these books and share them with others. This is something I need to work on myself.
In the past year or so I’ve been doing better at reading books by BIPOC. I still have a long way to go, but here are some of my favorite books by Black authors that I highly recommend you add to your TBRs and actually pick up. There is a mix of genres and are not in any particular order. Also, if you decide to purchase any of these titles, please try your best to support a Black owned bookstore! Here is a list. If you financially cannot afford that right now, request them at your library!
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett – Young Adult; Contemporary
I loved this one! Read my full review here. I lay it out in my review, but this book is so much fun while still discussing important and serious issues. The main character, Simone, is HIV positive and this novel explores what it means to be a teenager in 2019 that is HIV positive. She starts dating a super cute guy (who sets a high bar for YA love interests), but then starts receiving anonymous notes threatening to tell everyone she has HIV. There is also tons of LGBTQ+ representation so it would be a perfect read for this year’s pride month!
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson – Young Adult; Supernatural, Humor
Bree has a mini review for this one here if you want to read her thoughts. This novel follows Mila Flores a practicing Wiccan, whose best friend has just died (apparently) by suicide. Mila knows there is no way Riley killed herself and decides to cast a spell to bring her back. Unfortunately, it does not go as planned and she also brings back two of the school’s mean girls. What stood out to me with this book is the dark, sarcastic sense of humor. I was LOLing at everything. The plot was not my favorite and the ending was meh, but the strength of the story lies in the female friendships and the discussion of bully culture.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds – Young Adult; Poetry; Contemporary
Look folks, if you have not read Jason Reynolds you are missing out. His lyrical and impactful prose always makes me think and I savor every word on the page. This a novel told in verse that follows a young Black boy who is on an elevator and has to decide if he is going to avenge his brother’s murder. While he is in the elevator ghosts of his past come in the elevator and give him some insight about his past and his brother’s life. It is powerful, raw, and gorgeous. I can’t wait to reread this one via the audiobook. As a note, I do recommend reading the physical book because some of the poems are in non traditional format & make shapes.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone – Young Adult; Contemporary
This is probably my favorite book on this list. It is short, but tells such an impactful story. I recently listened to the audiobook as a reread and loved it even more. The audiobook is phenomenal. The author, Nic Stone, has also been doing a series of Instagram lives that have also been great. We follow Justyce, a Black teen who gets stopped by cops unfairly. After this altercation he starts writing letters to Dr. King to discuss his feelings. Honestly, just read this book.
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole – Romance; Historical Fiction (Civil War)
Alyssa Cole writes some of the best romances out there. I love her books and this series is phenomenal. Even if you don’t *love* romance books I would recommend you try this one out, especially if you like historical fiction. I talk about books one and two in my romance mini reviews, but honestly just read these books. In book one we follow Elle Burns, a spy for the union who is undercover as a mute slave girl in the south. She meets Malcolm McCall who is also undercover. Of course they meet and it’s glorious. This book is full of frank discussions about race and power and features an excellent romance all set with the background of the Civil War. I will say that typically I am not the biggest historical romance fan, but this series is the exception! They are so good. I need to get book three from my library, but also do not want the series to be over…
A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole – Romance; Contemporary
Another Alyssa Cole romance because her books are fab. This one follows Portia as she goes to be an apprentice to a Scottish man. AKA she is going to learn sword making in a castle, what else do you need in a romance novel? Anyways, her boss is super grumpy, but also super hot so y’all already know what happens. He is also half Chilean which was nice to see because I am also half Chilean. This is a three book series with two novellas that are all great, but this one (book two) is my favorite.
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson – Historical Fiction (barely it’s the 1990’s)
Steph has died under mysterious circumstances. His sister wants to figure out why and his two best friends want him and his music to be remembered. The three of them team up and start sharing Steph’s music with people and people are listening. The scheme slowly starts growing out of control because no one knows that Steph is dead. How long can these friends keep up the facade? Meanwhile, all three main characters are dealing with their own circumstances and their own grief. I loved all three of our protagonists, they all get their own POVs too. I cannot wait to read more from Jackson because her writing is gorgeous.
For Everyone by Jason Reynolds – Poetry
This is a poetry collection full of inspirational poems. I read this at the start of this year on a whim and already want to reread it and need to pick up my own copy. The poems are simple, but impactful. If you are feeling lost and need someone to tell you that it will all be okay, read this. As always, Jason Reynold’s talent shines on every page. I have two of his books on this list, but all of his books should be on here. I just finished Ghost and it was great. He does not disappoint.
The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré – Contemporary Fiction
This book follows Adunni, a 14 year old Nigerian girl, whose father forces her into an arranged marriage to settle a debt. Her mother wanted Adunni to receive an education, but when she died, Adunni was forced to take care of her family. This is a powerful novel. I honestly know very little about Nigeria and appreciated that the author included facts about the country. These facts were my favorite part of the novel and I need to pick up some nonfiction books about Nigeria. Adunni struggles the entire novel and moves from one bad situation to another. She is so naïve and so young that your heart breaks for her, but she never gives up on her dream. She never stops fighting. She won’t stop until she has a “louding voice” – the ability to speak for herself and chose her own future. (Please note there are serious triggers for his novel for rape and sexual/domestic violence)
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – Young Adult; Contemporary
Elizabeth Acevedo’s voice is so powerful. This novel is told in a traditional narrative, unlike her other two novels which are told in prose and also should be on this list, but her lyrical voice still shines. We follow Emoni a teen mom who wants to be a chef (you will get hungry reading this book!). Cooking allows her to live in the moment rather than focus on her and her daughter’s futures. I did not want to list out all of her books in this list, but y’all should also be reading The Poet X & Clap When You Land by her as well because Acevedo’s writing is phenomenal.
Becoming by Michelle Obama – Memoir
I adored this book. I waited months so I could listen to the audiobook from my library because Michelle herself narrates it and I’m so glad I waited. The audiobook make it feel like she is sitting right next to you telling you about her life. It is phenomenal. I also highly recommend the Netflix documentary about her book tour as well. Michelle Obama is a fabulous writer and I loved her stories about growing up in Chicago, being a Black Woman in America today, falling in love with President Obama, her daughters, and her dislike of politics. Basically, I loved every moment of this book and see myself rereading it. Shoutout to my friend who bought me a copy for Christmas.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander – Middle Grade; Contemporary, Written in Verse
I’m going to be honest, I do not remember much about this book except that I really enjoyed the audiobook and that it follows basketball. I’m clearly due for a reread, but here is what I wrote in my Goodreads review: wow that ending…This is an MG story about basketball told in verse. I listened to the audiobook and it was cool listening to the poetry, but I wish I had the book to follow along. I am such a huge basketball fan and it was interesting and cool to see the sport translated into poetry. But, the story is so much more than that. It deals with jealously and family dynamics beautifully.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates- Memoir
This is a fabulous book to start with your anti-racism education. I highly recommend the audiobook as it is read by the author. The novel is framed as a letter to his son which makes is all the more heartbreaking and emotional. Again I do not remember much about it (again should probably reread it), but here is part of my Goodreads review: This is the type of book that you want to underline and mark up. I listened to the audiobook (which was great since it was read by the author), but I would have loved to highlight and underline SO many of his words.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Young Adult; Contemporary
I adore this novel and how it is told. Daniel and Natasha have a chance meeting on a day that is very important for both of them. They interpret it entirely differently, Daniel thinks it is fate and Natasha is dismissive of the whole thing. But, Daniel thinks he can make Natasha fall in love with him in a day and she is trying hard enough to forget other parts of her life to go along with it. This book is told in such a fun and unique way. Both Natasha and Daniel have POVs, but we randomly get glimpses into the heads of people that Daniel and Natasha meet thought the day. It is weird, but so well done. I also need to see this movie asap.
Some on my TBR that I am hyped about & hope to read soon:
Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
Along for the Ride by Mimi Grace
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (Also, Jason Reynold’s remixed version)
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
All The Things we Never Knew by Liara Tamani
The Vanishing Half & The Mothers by Brit Bennett
& many, many more
I do recognize that I am lacking quite a few genres and would appreciate historical fiction, fantasy, poetry, and mystery recommendations by Black authors.
What are some of your favorite books by Black authors? Or ones that you have on your TBR?