Good morning, my darlings! Today’s blog post is unusual in that is largely written by YOU.
Last week, in honor of Juneteenth, I started a conversation on my Instagram about books by Black authors. One of the ways I’m trying to fight racism in my own life is by making a conscious effort to seek out books by Black authors, so I sent out a call asking you to tell me what great books YOU’VE been reading by Black Authors.
The response absolutely blew me away. I received floods, avalanches, cascades of book recommendations! I re-shared all the recs in my Instagram story, but the final list was so good that I felt I absolutely had to collect and share these incredible titles by Black authors.
This list is different from the previous edition of my Books to Binge Read series because I’m including books that I haven’t personally read. Many of these recommendations came directly from you through my Instagram story and DMs, others are recs I’ve heard through the grapevine or encountered on the bookish internet.
121 books by Black authors
Many of the recent book lists I’ve encountered have focused on educational antiracist nonfiction. This is an extremely important category that I will also be including here, but I also felt that it was vital to include literary fiction and genre fiction by Black authors too. Joyful Black art deserves as much attention as serious Black art. I want to educate myself but I also want to make a conscious effort to include Black voices in the books that I read every day (and I really do read every day).
We’re going to start with Fiction, then Sci-Fi/Fantasy, then Romance, then Nonfiction.
Fiction by Black Authors
- The Vanishing Half By Brit Bennett. So many of you recommended this one! Supposed to be enthralling, heartbreaking, and beautiful.
- The Mothers By Brit Bennett. Bennett’s earlier novel, also supposed to be fantastic. Explores the concept of motherhood in its many guises.
- Queenie By Candice Carty-Williams. A vivid story of one young Black woman’s life. Another book that got rave reviews from so many of you that I bought it on the spot.
- Homegoing By Yaa Gyasi. Described by one of you as “heartbreaking and utterly gorgeous.”
- The Count of Monte Cristo By Alexandre Dumas. Did you know Dumas was Black? I only learned this recently.
Real Life By Brandon Taylor. Lots of you have been reading this one and I hear it’s fantastic.
- Salvage the Bones By Jesmyn Ward. A National Book Award winner, this novel focuses on a family in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.
- Sing, Unburied, Sing By Jesmyn Ward. Another award-winner from Ward, this novel is anchored in time by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
- Where the Line Bleeds By Jesmyn Ward. Ward’s first novel, described as “a timeless Southern fable of brotherly love and familial conflict.”
- Black Enough; Stories of Being Young & Black in America by ByIbi Zoboi, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, Rita Williams-Garcia. A short story compilation with an incredible author list.
- The Hate U Give By Angie Thomas. A modern YA classic about a young Black girl whose friend is killed by the police. This is also now a movie.
- On the Come Up By Angie Thomas. Thomas’ second book centers a young Black girl who dreams of becoming a rapper.
- The Fire This Time By Jesmyn Ward. A collection of poems and essays about race.
- The Bluest Eye By Toni Morrison. Several of you have been reading and loving this lately! It’s hard to go wrong with Toni Morrison.
- Song of Solomon By Toni Morrison. An iconic coming of age story by Toni Morrison.
- Beloved By Toni Morrison. This book was my first encounter with the utterly haunting beauty of Toni Morrison’s writing. Unforgettable.
- Sula By Toni Morrison. Another legendary Toni Morrison classic.
- An American Marriage By Tayari Jones. A love story about a young Black couple whose lives are turned upside down by a wrongful arrest. An award-winner and bestseller that many of you raved about.
- An Untamed State By Roxane Gay. Described as “a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty.”
- Difficult Women By Roxane Gay. A short story collection from Roxane Gay.
- Americanah By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A bestseller about two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, addressing questions of race, home, and belonging.
- The Thing Around Your Neck By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In this short story collection, the award-winning Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.
- Half of a Yellow Sun By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A story of love and war set in Nigeria in the 1960s.
- Oreo By Fran Ross. A pioneering, dazzling satire about a biracial black girl from Philadelphia searching for her Jewish father in New York City.
- Brown Girl Dreaming By Jacqueline Woodson. A National Book award winner, this book of poetry is supposed to be absolutely beautiful.
- Everything Good Will Come By Sefi Atta. A coming of age story, tracing the friendship of two African girls into their adult lives.
- On Beauty By Zadie Smith. Zadie Smith is another iconic, classic, legendary Black author known for her wildly gorgeous writing.
- Swing Time By Zadie Smith. This novel follows two young Black girls who dream of becoming dancers.
- NW By Zadie Smith. Described as “tragicomic,” this story follows four city dwellers who grow up in the same council estate.
- White Teeth By Zadie Smith. Zadie Smith’s famous debut novel. Find more Zadie Smith here.
- Such a Fun Age By Kiley Reid. Several of you have read and LOVED this and now that I’ve seen the description, I know I have to read it too.
- The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat By Edward Kelsey Moore. This title is almost a whole story on its own!
- The Nickel Boys By Colson Whitehead. This just won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
- The Underground Railroad By Colson Whitehead. This one won the Pulitizer in 2016. See more Colson Whitehead here.
Science Fiction/Fantasy by Black Authors
- A Song of Wraiths and Ruin By Roseanne A. Brown. The first in a YA fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore. I just bought this and I can’t wait to dive in!
- Pet By Akwaeke Emezi. Oh this book sounds SO GOOD. Gorgeous genre-defying YA with a Black trans protagonist.
- An Unkindness of Ghosts By Rivers Solomon. Science Fiction set on the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South.
- The Binti Trilogy By Nnedi Okorafor. The series kicked off with Binti, which won both a Hugo and a Nebula award! A talented young girl undertakes a dangerous space voyage for the chance to attend a prestigious university.
- Akata Witch By Nnedi Okorafor. This series has been described to me as “like the Nigerian Harry Potter, but even better” which was more than enough to get it on my “to read” list.
- Children of Blood and Bone By Tomi Adeyemi. This series is vivid and fierce and incredible and I can’t wait for the next one. YA Fantasy with a badass lady hero (my favorite).
- The Water Dancer By Ta-Nehisi Coates.
- The Broken Earth series By N. K. Jemisin. Starting with The Fifth Season, this was far and away the most recommended book from your IG DMs. I bought it earlier in the week and I’m absolutely loving it so far.
- The Dreamblood serise By N. K. Jemisin.
- The Great Cities Trilogy By N. K. Jemisin. I have a lot of N.K. Jemisin enthusiasts among my Instagram followers and it’s not hard to see why. This is her newest series, starting with The City We Became.
- How Long ’til Black Future Month? Stories By N. K. Jemisin. Short stories by N.K. Jemisin.
- The Inheritance Trilogy By N. K. Jemisin. As far as I can tell, everything N.K. Jemisin has ever written is supposed to be incredible. Based on how much I’m enjoying the beginning of The Fifth Season, and how great her Twitter is, these would all be worth a read.
- A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope By Patrice Caldwell (Editor). Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.
- Dread Nation By Justina Ireland. This is another series I recently bought for myself to read. I haven’t started yet, but it sounds incredible! Several of you have read this and loved it.
- The Haunting of Tram Car 015 By P. Djèlí Clark. The Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigates a possessed tram car.
- The Black God’s Drums By P. Djèlí Clark. A Sci-Fi/Fantasy take on an alternate New Orleans, featuring magic, airships, and adventure!
- A Blade So Black By L.L. McKinney. The first in a new fractured fairy tale YA fantasy epic series that has drawn comparisons to Alice in Wonderland and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, please.
- Kindred By Octavia E. Butler. Butler was a legendary Sci-Fi author, who won multiple Hugo & Nebula awards AND a MacArthur Fellowship for her writing. If you want to know your Black Science Fiction, you have to know Octavia Butler. This book is considered by many to be her masterpiece.
- Bloodchild and Other Stories By Octavia E. Butler. This book of short stories is a great place to start with Octavia Butler in a bite-sized format.
- The Xenogenesis series By Octavia E. Butler. This post-apocalyptic narrative deftly explores gender and race through the eyes of characters struggling to adapt during a pivotal time of crisis and change.
- Parable of the Sower By Octavia E. Butler. A post-apocalyptic series set in the early 2020’s (ha) in a world ravaged by climate change.
- Fledgling By Octavia E. Butler. Butler’s final work is a vampire story, adapting the familiar mythology to explore the biology of racial ideology. I’ve included a Butler sampling, but she had many more titles. See them here.
- Riot Baby By Tochi Onyebuchi. Description: “Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.”
- Beasts Made of Night By Tochi Onyebuchi. The first in a YA series inspired by Nigerian mythology.
- Song of Blood & Stone By L. Penelope. Description “In L. Penelope’s thrilling epic fantasy Earthsinger series, the orphan Jasminda possesses a magical ability feared by her own people. But when war threatens her homeland, Jasminda’s Earthsong may be the only thing that can prevent the bloodshed and heal the hearts of two nations.”
- The Gilded Ones By Namina Forna. The first in what’s described as “a bold and immersive West African-inspired, feminist fantasy series.”
- Cinderella Is Dead By Kalynn Bayron. You know I love a reimagining of a classic fairy tale.
- A Song Below Water By Bethany C. Morrow. Subtitle is “young, Black, and secretly magical” and it has mermaids on the cover. Yes, please.
Romance by Black Authors
- The Wedding Date By Jasmine Guillory. A LOVE this series and so do a lot of you, based on my DMs. It’s a contemporary romance series starring strong, clever, fascinating Black women as the protagonists. Strongly recommend.
- The Reluctant Royals series By Alyssa Cole. This contemporary romance series is a personal fave that I’ve reread in its entirety several times. Spam email princes that turn out to be real, newly-discovered swordsmithing dukes, strong women supporting each other, international group chats, etc. So much to love.
- The Loyal League By Alyssa Cole. I’ve only read a couple of books from Cole’s a Civil War era historical romance series, but they were both fantastic. The series follows the Loyal League, a spy organization working against the Confederate South. More serious in tone than her more playful contemporary romances, but utterly absorbing.
- How to Catch a Queen By Alyssa Cole. Apparently this book is a brand contemporary romance series from Alyssa Cole! Set to publish later in 2020. Put it on your wishlist now.
- Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology By Lena Hart, Piper Huguley, Kianna Alexande.
- Deliver Me by Farrah Rochon. This contemporary romance series follows the romantic adventures of the Holmes family.
- The Boyfriend Project By Farrah Rochon. The latest from Rochon! I haven’t read anything by this author yet but I have heard great things and I enjoy following her on Twitter! She has published a number of contemporary romances.
- Destiny’s Embrace By Beverly Jenkins. Beverley Jenkins is pretty much THE iconic, legendary Black romance novel author. She mostly writes historicals, like this series set in 19th century California. I’ve only read one of her books and I plan to remedy this as soon as possible.
- Rebel By Beverly Jenkins. A Northern woman makes her way in the deep South after the Civil War.
- Indigo By Beverly Jenkins. Description: “As a child Hester Wyatt escaped slavery, but now the dark skinned beauty is a dedicated member of Michigan’s Underground railroad, offering other runaways a chance at the freedom she has learned to love.” See more Beverly Jenkins here.
- Intercepted By Alexa Martin. I do not enjoy watching football but I DO enjoy this contemporary romance series about women who fall in love with professional football players. It’s a twist on the Millionaire trope, with a strong side of female friendships thrown in.
- A Taste of Honey By Kai Ashante Wilson. Fantasy romance by a Hugo award winner.
- Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience By Rebekah Weatherspoon. Contemporary romance. I love a good “marriage of convenience story.
- Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny By Rebekah Weatherspoon. Contemporary romance. This one describes itself!
- A Cowboy to Remember By Rebekah Weatherspoon. This author’s tagline on her website is “where the happily ever afters are always in color.” See more from this author. .
- The Worst Best Man By Mia Sosa. Described as “Fun, flirty, and moderately dirty.” Contemporary romance.
- The Left of Love by Love Belvin. This one gets an Amazon link because it’s free on Kindle Unlimited. Contemporary romance.
- Real Men Knit By Kwana Jackson. Contemporary romance about four brothers who unexpectedly inherit a knitting store.
- Love’s Serenade (Decades: A Journey of African American Romance) by Sheryl Lister. Harlem in the 1920’s!! Yes.
- A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby By Vanessa Riley. Historical romance about a West Indian heiress.
- Binding Shadows By Jasmine Silvera. Fantasy romance! A young witch in Prague, an enchanted book…sign me up.
- The Bewildered Bride by Vanessa Riley.
- Not the Girl You Marry By Andie J. Christopher. Contemporary romance by a new-to-me Black author who I am very excited to read after Googling her books just now.
- Not That Kind of Guy By Andie J. Christopher. Another standalone by Andie J Christopher, for all of you who loved Not The Girl You Marry (which I heard about from many of you!).
- One Night in South Beach By Andie J. Christopher. This contemporary romance series by Andie J. Christopher is known for its sexy, dirty-talking heroes.
- Long Shot By Kennedy Ryan. A contemporary NBA player romance. I’m not super into sports myself but athlete-centered romances can be really fun.
- Forbidden Promises By Synithia Williams. India Robidoux goes back to her hometown to help her brother with his political campaign, but what she finds there is a man from her past.
- Get a Life, Chloe Brown By Talia Hibbert. “Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion.”
Nonfiction by Black Authors
- Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot By Mikki Kendall. There is no point in Feminism if Feminism doesn’t include Black and BIPOC women. Top of my nonfiction reading list.
- The Source of Self-Regard By Toni Morrison.
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration By Isabel Wilkerson. A multiple award-winner, this book traces the history of the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
- Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates. A multiple award winner that is supposed to be utterly incredible.
- Becoming By Michelle Obama.
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents By Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
- Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools By Monique W. Morris.
- The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates By Wes Moore. The story of two kids with the same name growing up two blocks apart and how different their experiences are.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness By Michelle Alexander.
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir By Patrisse Khan-Cullors, asha bandele. “A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free.”
- They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South By Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers.
- So You Want to Talk About Race By Ijeoma Oluo.
- You Can’t Touch My Hair And Other Things I Still Have to Explain By Phoebe Robinson.
- I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual By Luvvie Ajayi. Recommended by one of you! Supposed to be clever, brilliant, and funny.
- Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth By Dána-Ain Davis.
- Bad Feminist By Roxane Gay. Okay, I’m including a LOT of books about Feminism, but hey, it’s my list so I’ll do what I want.
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body By Roxane Gay.
- Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America By Stacey Abrams.
- The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America By Gerald Horne.
- We Should All Be Feminists By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Described on Indiebound as “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness.”
- Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century By Monique W. Morris.
- Sister Outsider; Essays and Speeches By Audre Lorde. Description: “the essential writings of Black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde.”
- We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood By Dani McClain.
- How to Be an Antiracist By Ibram X. Kendi. You’ve probably heard of this one recently, and for good reason.
- How Europe Underdeveloped Africa By Walter Rodney.
- Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes a letter to her childhood friend, a new mother who wanted to know how to raise her baby girl to be a feminist.
- The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America By Tamara Winfrey Harris.
- Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence (America in the Nineteenth Century) By Kellie Carter Jackson.
- Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century By Dorothy Roberts. This is about the biological side of the concept of race and it sounds fascinating.
- Black Ink: Literary Legends on the Peril, Power, and Pleasure of Reading and Writing By Stephanie Stokes Oliver.
- How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir By Saeed Jones. An intimate portrait of the writer growing up as a young, gay Black man.
- This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America By Morgan Jerkins.
Special shoutout to Mr. DitL who reads a lot more nonfiction than I do and was extremely helpful with suggestions for that section!
I am cutting myself off here, even this though this barely scratches the surface! For more books by Black authors, please see 45 Upcoming Books by Black Authors you can Preorder Right Now on Book Riot, 33 Books by Contemporary Black Authors from Penguin Random House, the entire website for Mahogany Books, 43 of the Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime and 30 Must-Read Black Romance Novels That You’ll Love from O Magazine, Black Romance Novels Matter Too on Shondaland, and An AntiRacist Reading List by Ibram X. Kendi for the NYT.
What do you think, my darlings? Have you read any of these highly acclaimed books by Black authors? Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!
The links in this post are affiliate links to Indiebound, because I’ve recently made the switch away from using Amazon. If you’re up for doing a little more legwork, I strongly recommend putting in the time and effort to buy these books from Black-owned independent bookstores. Here’s a list from Book Riot.
See the other lists from my Books to Binge Read series here. If you want more book recs, you can see my What I’m Reading archive here, my Best Books of the Year posts here, my master list of book recs here, and Books That Make Me Feel Better here.
Book photos via Unsplash. This post contains affiliate links.