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It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's Black History Month Which Means B&B is Keeping It All Black, All Month Long.

There are a lot of great books out there by a lot of authors that run the gambit of hues. But in a world that centers whiteness and its many narratives, it is important to actively seek out stories that fall into the margins of our society. Now I keep my reading blackity Black (and brown, and queer) all year long. However, my TBR List being what it is, a.k.a. neverending, Black History Month is the perfect time to prioritize books by Black authors. So I’ll be doing what I do every year, and keeping it all Black this fine February, and you can too with these five amazing books.


Now I think that authors should be able to write what they want, ie. I’m not in camp you should only write about your own race, gender, and sexuality. I actually think it's an important thought exercise to put yourself in someone else’s shoes especially if that person is marginalized. I have read some amazing books where the protagonist is Black, but the author is white. I’ve also read some eye-roll-inducing straight-up garbage that is someone who’s not Black sad attempt at imagining blackness. (No, I’m not telling you who for either example because in no particular order:

  1. the philosophy of this blog

  2. This post is about centering Black authors

  3. and the Streisand effect.

But more important is to read Black stories from Black voices. However talented an author is at imagination, it’s no substitute for lived experience.

Five Amazing Books by Black Authors

As I've mentioned I keep my reading colorful all year round, so this list is by no means exhaustive. Mostly this list is top of mind. There are so many amazing books by Black authors, and I have so many favorites that whittling it down to five was a task and a half. The other thing informing this list is the absence of anything published by HarperCollins. The union and the company are currently in mediation so fingers crossed, that soon the social media/blogging ban will be lifted.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies


In the Upper Country


Cool. Awkward. Black


The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw


This book absolutely blew me away. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but all of the stories can be read as standalone or the reader can imagine them as interconnecting narratives. The stories leave just enough to the imagination, that you can ponder the intricacies of their lives and the various weights of womanhood.



Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


So full disclosure, I haven’t quite finished this one (I’m about 75% of the way through) but it made the list because it hooked me from the start and has not let me go. This book is layer dealing with the complexity of trauma in an authentic way that takes the reader on an emotionally satisfying roller coaster



In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas


I talk about The Prophets by Robert Smith Jr. every three to five business days, as it's one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read. This book is in the same vein: interconnecting stories, multi-perspective, and generational reckoning of the effects of slavery. What was also so fascinating in this story is from the perspective of the free people who live in Canada, and I can't ever remember coming across a book from that point of view before.



Recitatif by Toni Morrison


Toni Morrison is one of the greatest authors of our time. Period. I have read everything she ever published, and while Tar Baby might be my favorite, this might be the best thing she ever wrote (in my humble opinion). This is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. It should be required reading for everyone. Nothing had me confront my biases the way Toni Morrison did with this book, and in less than a hundred pages to boot.



Cool. Awkward. Black Edited by Karen Strong.


I am a lover of anthologies and ensemble storytelling. This particular anthology not only has a couple of my faves but the author also the author of Blood Debts, which if you couldn’t tell by my review, I cannot stop raving over. But as a Black geek myself, works like this are so important to tell alternative Black youths (and adults alike) that we exist. We are seen. We are valid.



What's your favorite book by a Black author?