Though it may seem strange as reading is typically a solitary activity, books are how I relate to the world. They allow me to place myself in someone else’s perspective in a way that I can’t do from simple conversation alone. To me, books are one of the best empathetic tools available.
In the past few weeks, I have found myself seeking more and more stories to help me process the events happening in the U.S. I have looked at many reading lists recommending books for white people to read to better understand systemic racism. Many of these are books I’ve read or are already on my reading lists. I find these to be great resources and a great starting point.
I saw a great post, though, by Tatiana Mac about making systemic change to yourself. Reading one or two books about race in your book club for the next three months is a current change. But we – white allies – need to also think about what we’re doing in the future. As Tatiana says systemic change is “build[ing] Black authors into your life, fiction, non-race-based non-fiction.”
I love this suggestion because it’s a reminder that we should be celebrating authors of all genres, not just reading the “anti-racist lesson” books. Since I’ve been trying to build authors of color and trans* authors into my bookshelf for a while, I thought now would be a great time to share some of the books by Black authors that I’ve found and hopefully start a conversation in the comments about additional ones to add to my list!
Books I’ve read
Note, I’m a fan of memoirs/autobiographies, so the list does skew towards them.
- Becoming by Michelle Obama: If you’re a fan of Michelle (or really even if you aren’t), this is a fantastic book. She’s a wonderful storyteller, and as a bonus it will give readers insight into growing up Black in Chicago.
- Sign My Name to Freedom by Betty Reid Soskin: How many lives has Betty lived? She is amazing and it’s no wonder she’s referred to as a “national treasure.”
- A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: A heartbreaking story of a child soldier
- Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince: Micheaela is a ballet dancer, but how she got there is no simple matter.
- Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee: I found hope by reading Leymah’s life story because she has it event after a war that ravaged her country.
- Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes: Even if you’re not a fan of her hit TV shows, Shonda’s Year of Yes is a funny and brilliant wakeup call. She touches on being a busy working mom, weight loss, being successful as a black woman, and stepping into power as an introvert.
- The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae: Issa’s deprecating voice is a humorous way to approach some serious topics including love, friendship, and cybersexing
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandella: Especially poignant right now, this memoir tells a lot about fighting when it seems like you have no hope.
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly: I love this movie and this is the book behind it. Shetterly shares more stories than just the three featured in the movie.
- How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana: Similar to Leymah, Sandra lived through violence that brought heartbreak.
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory: This was an adorable romance and I’m looking forward to reading the sequels!
Plan to Read
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
- We Should All be Feminist by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- This Child Will Be Great by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
- Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper
- When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
- Hunger by Roxane Gay
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
- The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
- Rest of The Wedding Date series by Jasmine Guillory
- I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
- More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth