February is such an awesome month! Being Black History Month means that I’m even more aware of how many awesome books are on my shelves penned by black authors. Diversity in publishing we desperately need and all these authors bring something great to the table. I’m so pumped to keep supporting black authors!
Which is why I’m making this my first post of February! Today I want to highlight some amazing books on my shelves I’m dying to read. They were all written by black authors (some are American and others are not) and all sound incredible… If you have any more suggestions, please leave me a comment!
I firmly, firmly believe that it’s super important to read diversely and widely all year round. So I’d like to preface this list by saying that you (and I and everyone) should read these books no matter the month! I feel like February is a great time to highlight these authors but trust me, I’ll shout about the ones I love all year-round. Yay, black fiction!
Also, I want to break down my recommendations by genre. If you have any more suggestions for me to add to my list, by all means, let me know!
(note: click the book cover to be directed to the book’s Goodreads page)
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray 🌼 This debut novel tells the story of three sisters whose relationship is put to trial when one of them is tried for a crime. I’ve seen it being described as a mix between The Mothers and An American Marriage, both books I’ve either read and loved or been dying to read. I love stories about families, and so I’m super excited to pick this one up!
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin 🌼 In this experimental fiction book, the narrator struggles to make a hard decision regarding his son: should he put him through an experimental surgery to turn him white? His son, a biracial young boy, will soon be put back in life if his black birthmark keeps growing at this rate. Honestly, this sounds like something Pau Beatty could write and, although I really did not like The Sellout, I have high expectations for this one.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins 🌼 It is 1826 and London is in a frenzy, as crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch Frannie Langton be tried for the murder of her masters. Proof is stacking up against Frannie, as accusations that she is a whore, a slave, and a seductress are thrown. Reading about black main characters who are slaves is sort of controversial at the moment, and the writer herself says she struggled whether or not to write this book, and so I’m definitely going to read it.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones 🌼 This novel seems to be an exploration of marriage and of Black masculinity and Black femininity in 21st-century America. Celeste and Roy are newlyweds but their marriage starts to fall apart when unforeseen circumstances come between them. Some of my favorite book reviewers have called this a Great American Novel and truly one not to be missed. Even if they hadn’t praised it so highly I know I would have wanted to pick it up! Broken families? Sign me up.
An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma 🌼 When I first heard that this book was coming out, I immediately added it to my list. It sounded so awesome! And now, I have learned that it is actually a modern twist on Homer’s Odyssey in the Igbo literary style. Say whaaaaat? This sounds way too good to pass up! In short, a young man travels to Cyprus to get his education so his girlfriend’s family will accept him. But once he gets there, he is taken by surprise at what he didn’t know before he started his journey.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith 🌼 I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest time. It sounds so promising! The blurb doesn’t give away much, but from what I can tell, the novel revolves around two WWII veterans and their families. I know there are Jamaican characters and Islam is also a focus of the novel, but I’m going in pretty much blind. Which is great, because I trust this novel everyone loves to hype up.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin 🌼 I’ve read one novel by Baldwin and absolutely loved it. This one, which has been made into a movie recently, intrigues me a lot. Set in New York City in the 1970s, two young black people are drawn to each other. When Fonny is incarcerated, his girlfriend Tish fights to get him back so they can raise their child together. I don’t know a lot about this novel, but it’s a Baldwin so…
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James 🌼 This is the odd one out on my list, but as soon as I heard it being described as an African Game of Thrones, I knew I had to pick it up. Tracker is known for his skills: being able to pick up a trail and find them. One day, he is hired to track a mystery boy who went missing three days before. But on the way, Tracker runs into several creatures also trying to find the boy and so starts to wonder, who is this boy? And why are so many people after him? It’s high fantasy, has a looong cast of characters, and sounds like it has African influences — I’m in.
Beloved by Toni Morrison 🌼 Set after the end of the Civil War, the spirit of a murdered child haunts the Ohio home of a former slave. Her disruptive presence stops Sethe and her family from living in peace at home. However, Sethe loves the child’s ghostly presence, as it reminds her of her unnamed dead child, Beloved. Morrison won a Nobel Prize and I’ve loved the excerpts of her work I’ve read, so I definitely want to read this masterpiece as soon as possible.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 🌼 I’ll admit that I own but still have not read his previous novel (The Underground Railroad) but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to pick up this one! It’s set in Florida during the Civil Rights movement and Elwood is the main character, a young black man about to enroll in a local black college. But for a black person, one small mistake has grave consequences — and so Elwood is sent to the Nickel Academy, a reformatory aimed at turning convicts into “honest” men.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge 🌼 Reni Eddo-Lodge started writing this book after posting a blog entry discussing her frustration with how race conversations in Britain were being led by people not affected by them. And honestly? I see so much of this even in my country. In this book, she discusses black history, whitewashed feminism, and how race and class intersect. I am ready to learn everything Reni has to teach me and couldn’t be more excited about it.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 🌼 Coates’s novel tries to explain to his own son what it is like to inhabit a black body, black history, and how it is possible for black people to rid themselves of their burdens. I have heard so many positive reviews from all kinds of reviewers, so I really want to pick it up. Memoir is one of my favorite genres, as are books about race and history — why wouldn’t I pick this up?
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates 🌼 This collection of essays discusses how America went from electing (and re-electing) a black president to electing “the first white president” in just eight years. In them, Coates brings up problems of racial problems, the country’s problematic history, and everything in between. You can tell Ta-Nehisi is one of the writes really up there on my list.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo 🌼 This entire collection of essays is dedicated to racial issues in the West today: from police brutality to systemic discrimination, Oluo discusses a bunch of very important topics from a personal and academic point of view. This is one of the books on my shelves that has the best overall Goodreads reviews, so I’m super excited to pick it up. I’m anticipating it to be a hard read, but those are the best in the long run.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay 🌼 Gay is one of my favorite writers ever. I just finished reading another book of hers and she keeps blowing my mind. So it’s no surprise I want to pick up her memoir. In this one, Roxane Gay writes about her relationship with her body as a fat woman and with food. She explores our anxieties related to health, wellbeing, and body image. I don’t have a good relationship with my body, and so I want to see what Gay has to say on this topic.