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15 Must Read Books by Black Authors

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Are you looking to read more books by black authors in 2020? Let’s get started!

Since getting older, I’ve started to really dig into literature by black authors. These books span all genres and generations, but this February I want to share my favorite books from black contemporary authors as well as some on my want to read list. 

I’ve found myself really absorbed in memoirs lately, and have found so many parallels to my own experiences in a couple of books mentioned below. While this list does not begin to cover the breadth of new books by black authors, these have been some of my favorite reads over the last couple of years and ones I recommend.

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In this post:

+ Favorite books by black authors
+ To-read books by black authors

Books I’ve Read and Loved

(in no particular order)

It was hard deciding on only a few books by black authors, but by narrowing it down to books written in the last few years, here are the ones I’ve read that have really stood out to me! 

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth //
This is a memoir by journalist Elaine Welteroth, sharing her growth and journey that led her to becoming editor in chief at Teen Vogue. In her book she uses her own stories to provide many life lessons, especially overcoming challenges while going for your goals. This book really resonated with me in so many ways- from not fitting in during my childhood to trying to figure out my career path. I loved her honesty throughout the book and could easily read it again.

Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Edeyemi //
If you love fantasy novels, then Children of Blood & Bone is for you. This is the first book in a fantasy series, set in the fictional land of Orïsha.  Orïsha was a land that once held magic in it, and in one night it disappeared completely. This book follows the main character, Zélie, on her adventure to bring magic back to the people of her world. This book was full of adventure, drama, and action. I had a fun time reading this book and was sad when it was over!

The second book was just released in January, so you have time to catch up!

Becoming by Michelle Obama //
I absolutely loved reading Michelle Obama’s memoir about her life, growing up, and becoming the First Lady. Throughout her memoir she shares about everything that has helped shape her into who she is today. The part that resonated with me the most was how normal she is and how we share so many thoughts, fears, and doubts about our paths. She is so honest and open about her experiences, and I will definitely re-read this one. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook as well; she reads it herself!

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi //
This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Homegoing is a book that spans 250 years, from Africa to America. It follows two sisters and their families’ stories over generations. The structure of the book is very interesting as each chapter follows a descendent of each of the sisters. The most captivating part of the book for me was the storytelling, the experience of each person in the book, and the impact slavery has across each of the storylines.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones //
This story follows a newlywed couple and their life after Celeste’s husband, Roy, is sentenced to prison for 12 years. After his arrest, what follows is a story of love, loyalty, justice, and circumstances beyond control. It is told from the perspective of the main characters and has very deep character development. This book was a very thought provoking read for me and left me with a lot of different feelings! 

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin //
This is the memoir of Anthony Ray Hinton, a man wrongfully convicted of murder in 1985, placed in solitary confinement for 30 year, and sentenced to the death penalty. In his memoir he shares his story and how he coped with his experience. This is one of the hardest books I’ve ever read, but one that I 100% recommend. It is difficult to put my feelings into words about this memoir. I was extremely sad and angry at the end of it, but also was inspired by Anthony’s hopefulness and kindness throughout his horrible experience.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas //
The Hate U Give has become a popular YA (young adult) novel and was also adapted into a movie. This book focuses on a high school student, Starr, as she navigates living two lives- in her poorer neighborhood and also attending a prep school. Her world is turned upside down when she is witness to one of her childhood friends being shot and killed by a cop. After this happens, the book follows how her life unfolds and what she chooses to do. I read this book extremely quickly and think it should definitely be on the required reading lists for everyone. I believe this story is told very well, and is extremely relevant for the time we live in.

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BOOKS ON MY TO READ LIST

My to read list is also quite long, but these are the books that I’m super excited to read. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Well Read Black Girl by Glory Edim

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry

What has been your favorite book by a black author? Drop it below in the comments so I can add it to my ever-growing reading list!

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