A few years ago I began to understand that most of the books I consumed were written by white people, usually about white people’s experiences. I began to seek out authors of color and narratives that centered around people of different ethnicities from me. I’m not perfect at this, but I found once I started intentionally adding in black authors and people of color, I was overwhelmed with choices and even discovered new genres that I hadn’t been exploring before.
I thought I would share some of my favorite books from the past couple of years in a few different genres. This is no way an exhaustive list, it’s really just a starting point. There are so many wonderful books out there, my hope is that by searching for one of these books you find at least 5 more that you want to read!
All of these links go to a black owned bookstore so I think you should definitely click through, browse, purchase, and support these businesses! They are not affiliate links.
Fantasy This is a new to me genre and I have really been enjoying it lately. Earlier this year I read Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi which was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and feels incredibly timely. If you have a young person in your life that loves fantasy I would highly recommend reading it with them! I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series soon.
Memoir Another genre I’ve been dipping my toe in lately. When done well, I have discovered I love memoirs! How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones had me feeling all the emotions. Jones’ writing is incredibly powerful and I hope he writes many more books in the years to come.
Romance I admit this isn’t my favorite genre, but I know some of y’all love it! The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is beloved by so many that read this genre and I know this has become a series that many people look forward to. I found this one fun and it would be a perfect one to get lost in this summer.
Literary Fiction This is the genre I read the most so I could honestly recommend a lot of great ones here, but these two stuck with me through the years and I think about them often. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I was able to listen to the author speak at the DMA and I loved everything she had to say. She is honest about her writing process and just incredibly charming and funny. Read this book and then look her up! You will love it and her.
The Mothers by Brit Bennet stayed with me a long time and I think back on these characters often. This is a debut novel and I’ve preordered Bennet’s next book and can’t wait for it to get here!
Sci Fi Another genre I’m sinking my teeth into and loving. And damn. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler scared the hell out of me. It’s absolutely fantastic, there’s a reason Butler is a legend in this genre. She turns the time travel narrative on its head and I no longer look at this type of story the same way.
Young Adult I have been trying to read more of this and middle grade because my daughter has become a reader with a capital R and I know soon I will not be able to keep up with her! The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was a good one and I think it’s been made into a movie as well. It has bigger themes of loss and race and I loved the main characters.
Sweeping Family Drama Ok, this isn’t really a genre on its own probably, but man I love a story that covers a family over time. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi was so, so good. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started it and I remember not being able to put it down. This would be a great one if you want to get lost in a book this summer.
Short Stories I love short stories and Difficult Women by Roxane Gay is so good, it will knock you down. Like, I gasped as I read a few of them. Gay is a master and this collection is worth reading just to see someone dominate their craft.
Historical Fiction I used to read so much historical fiction, but now I don’t as much. Not sure why! But I recently listened to Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson and I think it qualifies for this genre. Woodson goes back and forth between time and characters and I think captures points in recent history so well. It’s a short book and I was kind of amazed at how rich the scenes were, I felt like I was there.
I used Shoppe Black to find a list of black bookstores. If you are looking for black owned businesses to support, I suggest starting with that site!
I know I’ve talked about this website before, she does great round ups and this Modern Mrs. Darcy Booklist is all black authors grouped by genres. So if you liked my short list, you will probably love hers.
Another great place to look for books is Goodreads. I searched their black authors list and there are enough titles there to keep you reading for years to come!