25 Books by Black Authors

black author books

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Many of us do not choose our books by author. Of course, we all have our favorites. But in general, we are looking for the genres that we like, the intrigue that appeals to us or (let’s face it, admit it) covers that seem intriguing. That said, publishing has a serious diversity problem. According to the most recent benchmark study on diversity carried out in 2019, 79% of respondents identified themselves as white, 78% as women, 88% as heterosexual and 92% as non-disabled. This is a problem because the people who work in publishing serve as gatekeepers who decide which voices are amplified, which stories are told, and which experiences the readers see reflected. And it is important, both for marginalized populations to make their voices heard and for those of us who come from a privileged place to discover experiences that are not ours.

Reading broadens our perspectives. He leaves other voices in our heads and gives credit to these stories. We can overcome this lack of diversity by supporting black, POC and otherwise marginalized authors. Even the most eccentric fantasies come from someone’s lived experience, and it is time to make sure that our shelves are as diverse as our world. To this end, we have put together a list of some of our favorite black authors. There’s a new favorite here for everyone, guaranteed.

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1

The Water Dancer

Ta-Nehisi Coates
bookshop.org

$ 40.50

Hiram Walker was born into slavery, but after his mother sold himself, he lost his memory of her but received in return a mysterious power. When this same power prevents him from drowning years later, he is encouraged to escape and save his family. Then begins a painful journey.

RELATED: Anti-racism books for education

2

The Nickel Boys

Colson whitehead
bookshop.org

$ 24.30

This hot story-based book takes readers to The Nickel Academy, a reform school for boys who commit devastating atrocities against boys of color. When resident Elwood Curtis meets Turner, his new friend questions his ideals of how the world should work, with repercussions that spill over the ages.

3

How we fight for our lives: a brief

Saeed Jones
bookshop.org

$ 23.40

Cataloging his life growing up as a gay black man in the South, this memory of his transition to adulthood will open your heart. It’s the story of an individual journey, but it’s also a broader examination of love and power, queerness and identity, and what it means to carve out a place in the world.

RELATED: Books on race and racism for children

4

Such a fun age

Kiley Reid
bookshop.org

$ 23.40

Emira Tucker is a cash-strapped babysitter who helps her client Alix Chamberlain when she takes her daughter to a grocery store in the middle of the night. But when Emira is racially profiled by a security guard and the interaction is leaked to the press, she and Alix must both figure out how to handle it.

5

We should all be feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
bookshop.org

$ 15.59

Based on a TEDx conference of the same name, this book presents a new concept of what feminism means in the 21st century. It draws on the author’s own experiences to illustrate why our feminism must be inclusive and intersectional. Try to read it without igniting yourself.

6

Recover bones

Jesmyn Ward
bookshop.org

$ 15.64

With the simmering tension that accompanies the anticipation of a storm, this National Book Award winner takes place in the days before a devastating hurricane in Mississippi. Esh is 14 and pregnant, and her alcoholic father doesn’t help much because she and her brothers are struggling to survive and prepare, despite almost no resources and a running clock.

7

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison
bookshop.org

$ 14.72

In this seminal work of American fiction, an unnamed narrator grew up in a black community in the South, was expelled from a black college and moved to Harlem to become the voice of a black nationalist movement. It is a portrait of our history that extends to the present day.

8

Black leopard, red wolf

Marlon james
bookshop.org

$ 28.80

Calling all fantasy fans: this captivating epic has been called “African Game of Thrones”, in the way it honors African mythology with the same sense of adventure and mystery as the popular series. This is part of a planned trilogy and has already been opted for the rights to the film, so read it before it hits the big screen.

9

Grand Union: Stories

Zadie Smith
bookshop.org

$ 24.30

In this collection of poignant stories, Smith explores what life in the modern world looks like in all its complexity, ironic spirit and sorrow. Moving through time and place, genre and perspective, it’s like an 11-course meal in written form.

ten

Red to the bone

Jacqueline Woodson
bookshop.org

$ 27.00

Moving back and forth in time, this exploration of class, race and family ties introduces us to Melody in teenage girls on the eve of her ceremony at the age of 0. As the story unfolds, we learn about the prices paid by Melody’s family members to bring them to this moment, as well as how the story reaches across generations.

11

Beloved

Toni Morrison
bookshop.org

$ 14.72

You can’t go wrong with Toni Morrison, and this suspenseful story of Sethe, an escaped slave who can’t shake the chains of his memories, is one of his best known. It is a heartbreaking story of love, loss and the long arm of trauma that each of us must hear.

12

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas
bookshop.org

$ 17.46

Starr Carter is caught between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and her predominantly white preparatory school. When she witnesses the lethal shooting of her unarmed friend at the hands of the police, she must make an impossible choice between her own safety and speaking up. This story seems particularly familiar at the moment, and it is a must read for teenagers and adults.

13

Their eyes looked at God

Zora Neale Hurston
bookshop.org

$ 16.55

Originally published in 1937, this story follows Janie Crawford as she attempts to assert her independence through three marriages. It’s a classic for a reason, so if you haven’t read it yet, there is no time like this.

14

Bad feminist

Roxane Gay
bookshop.org

$ 39.99

This collection of essays covers politics, culture and feminism in a series that is sometimes funny, sometimes touching and totally absorbing. He examines the author’s own journey using cultural touchstones Sweet valley high at Ugly and so many others, calling us to do better as a society and as individuals.

15

The worst man

Mia Sosa
bookshop.org

$ 14.71

Fans of Jasmine Guillory, Sally Thorne and Helen Hoang, do we have a game for you. A wedding planner has been left at the altar (I know, right?) And when she has offered a career opportunity, she has to jump on it. One problem: she has to work with the best man of her ex-fiancée. Is revenge a better served dish at work? You will have to read to find out.

16

Notes of an Aboriginal son

James Baldwin
bookshop.org

$ 25.16

Written in the 1940s and 1950s, these essays provide valuable insight into the civil rights movement in Harlem, the role of the protest novel, and what it means to be a black man in America and abroad. Baldwin’s sharp criticism and social comments seem just as relevant today – perhaps more than ever.

17

Deacon King Kong

James McBride
bookshop.org

$ 40.50

After a grumpy Brooklyn deacon shot at close range on a local drug dealer, this funny and moving novel reveals the consequences of his actions for the victim, witnesses, case cops, his church and the neighborhood as a whole. This shows us how the characters’ stories are interconnected, the importance of compassion, and how secrets can live and grow if they are hidden.

18

The city that we have become

N. K. Jemisin
bookshop.org

$ 35.10

In this disturbing dystopian fantasy, an infection is raging in New York which seeks to destroy it. But the city itself is made up of five beating hearts, which must unite to fight against fanaticism, racism and the forces that would divide us. It strikes very close to us these days, but will renew your confidence in the resilience and humanity of the city as a whole.

19

It’s not all downhill from here

Terry McMillan
bookshop.org

$ 25.20

At 68, Loretha Curry has it all: a husband who always runs his engine, a successful business and a group of overlapping friends. But when the tragedy happens to her and Loretha’s inner strength begins to weaken, these same friends must step in to show Loretha just how much her support system really means.

20

Thick: and other tests

Tressie McMillan Cottom
bookshop.org

$ 14.99

In eight analyzes of beauty, the media, money, default whiteness and other aspects of society in which we all participate, Cottom takes a critical lens through the lens of personal experience.

21

Queenie

Candice Carty-Williams
bookshop.org

$ 39.99

Queenie Jenkins is a Jamaican woman living in London looking for love in all the wrong places. This book which delves into identity politics, relationships and the search for belonging to a woman will resonate with all those who are struggling with their own place in the world.

22

Half gone

Brit Bennett
bookshop.org

$ 26.10

Twin sisters run away from the small town where they grew up. We decide to live our life by passing like a white woman. Another returns, bringing her daughter home to a city that looks at her for the color of her skin. Weaving several generations and their stories, this fascinating book explores how our origins follow us, no matter how far we try to go.

23

Hidden figures: the American dream and the untold story of the black mathematicians who helped win the space race

Margot Lee Shetterly
bookshop.org

$ 16.55

Did you know that three black mathematicians did the calculations that helped launch NASA astronauts into space? Otherwise, you are far from alone. Read about these women and their incredible contributions from the Second World War throughout the Cold War and the space race, while addressing segregation and racism along the way.

24

The girl with the strong voice

Abi Daré
bookshop.org

$ 25.20

All a 14-year-old Nigerian girl named Adunni wants is an education, the only way for her mother to say that she can have a “strong voice” or a say in her own future. Instead, her father sells her to be the third wife of a local man. Adunni fled to town, but found himself serving a wealthy family to survive. Through it all, his voice will not remain silent. She finds a way to speak and her struggle is a powerful inspiration for girls around the world.

25

The sun is also a star

Nicola Yoon
bookshop.org

$ 20.99

Now a major film, this beautiful story follows two people who meet at the worst time. One is only a few hours from the deportation of his family to Jamaica, the other is the golden child who never steps on the line. But when they start to fall in love, everything else falls – or becomes sharper.


Writer
Lizz Schumer is an editor for Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day and Prevention, covering pets, culture, lifestyle, books and entertainment.

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