Book Recs: Books by Black Authors

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The month of February is Black History Month.

In New Zealand, we don’t observe Black History Month, so when I first learned about Black History Month and its historical and current significance, it was through watching American television. Black History Month may not be a part of my country’s history, but it is important to so many of you, so I wanted to take the time to highlight this important and absolutely necessary month.

So, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate black authors and their incredible work. I also want to take this opportunity to raise the issue of anti-blackness and how this is a global issue that we must work hard to address, fight against, and to end. To my non-black-PoC friends (especially my non-black Asian friends), I highly encourage you all to [read this article]. Listen, learn, reflect, unlearn, repeat.

For today’s Book Recs, I want to highlight four amazing books by Black authors. To me, they are champions and have made incredible contributions to literature – today, I want to acknowledge, highlight, and celebrate those contributions.

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kindred

KINDRED BY OCTAVIA BUTLER

Kindred is such a monumental and pivotal contribution to black literature and an absolutely stunning book – the kind I wish I had read sooner.

  • Blends historical fiction with time travel, and explores the atrocities of slavery and the white slaveowners, racism, and violence on every level.
  • Explores how history can be a part of identity, as Dana, the protagonist, is torn from 1976 California by a strange phenomenon and finds herself in 19th century Maryland.
  • Butler’s prose is stellar; the writing in Kindred is emotional, action-packed, and utterly compelling.
  • The story breaks down the emotional distance we develop when reading history, has complex relationships and characterizations, and explores the how we can acclimatized to such terrible things.

Find Kindred in Goodreads or read my review

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binti

BINTI BY NNEDI OKORAFOR

This was my first Afrofuturism book, and if Binti is any indicator, it will not be my last.

  • A stunning science-fiction that blends themes of culture, family, futurism, and conflict. (Also features non-humanoid extraterrestrials!)
  • Despite its length, the worldbuilding is amazing; it is imaginative, immense, and spellbinding. I cannot wait to read more of this series to see the other, incredible worlds.
  • The eponymous protagonist is fantastic – I loved her narrative, and I connected with her struggles, uncertainties, dreams, and aspirations.

Find Binti in Goodreads

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browngirldreaming

BROWN GIRL DREAMING BY JACQUELINE WOODSON

When I read Main Street from the anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories and fell in love with Woodson’s writing, I knew I had to read Brown Girl Dreaming. And wow, did I make a fantastic decision.

  • It’s about growing up between South Carolina and New York, in a time of the Civil Rights movement and remnants of the Jim Crow still permeated across society.
  • Also explores growing up African-American, in a religious household, family, friendship, and finding your voice and the medium that we use to express it.
  • Beautifully written in verse, but each poem was powerful, meaningful, and rich with emotion and imagery.

Find Brown Girl Dreaming in Goodreads 

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promise-of-shadows

PROMISE OF SHADOWS BY JUSTINA IRELAND

I really look up to Justina and what she does for the community, so I absolutely had to support her and read Promise of Shadows!

  • Exciting and refreshing take on Greek mythology featuring familiar favourites like Hades, Hermes, and Hera. Also has harpies and other mythical beings!
  • Has a wonderful cast with a diversity of characters, especially the black protagonist (with blue hair!!) who is flawed, but was also brave and tried to do the right thing. Oh, and she is a Harpy. 💜
  • Such an enjoyable and fun read – the go-to book that has plenty of action and drama as well as thoughtful relationships and introspection.

Find Promise of Shadows on Goodreads

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A few months into my endeavour to read more diversely, I identified a gap when it came to books by black authors. I will strive to continue reading more and more books by black authors. Books I hope to read in the future are:

So friends, tell me:

  • What are you reading for Black History Month?
  • What does Black History Month to you?
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38 thoughts on “Book Recs: Books by Black Authors

  1. I’ve been reading a ton – my favourites so far are Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord and Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson. I’ve also been reading some Buchi Emecheta and plan on reading The Famished Road by Ben Okri along with more of Karen Lords novels as I really enjoyed her.

    • Hi Sarah!

      Oooh I remember you telling me about Lagoon, but I haven’t heard of the other two! Thanks for the recommendations – I’ll add them to my TBR! :D

      And I haven’t read any of Karen Lords’s work, but I shall endeavour to change that asap!

  2. LOVED Brown Girl Dreaming too, which has made me interested in Jacqueline Woodson’s other work, and Kindred sounds amazing. I have a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird sings, really need to read it sooooon…

    • Hi Wendy!
      Yes yes BGD was pure magic. ❤ I read her short story in the Flying Lessons anthology and fell in love with her writing. So emotionally charged and beautiful.

      Kindred is so good! Apparently there’s a graphic novel for it too, so I’m interested to read that one as well!

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    • Hi Lili!

      Haha yay! I hope you enjoy them if you get around to reading them.
      Kindred is amazing!! Have you read the graphic novel? Apparently that one is awesome too!

      Oooh that’s so cool! I’ll be sure to look out for it! :D

  4. Such fantastic books! For black history month I’m also reading some Octavia Butler, as well as Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie and The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. So exciting!

    Now I just need to find a book that celebrates black history month AND LGBT+ history month! The dream <3

    • Hi Wendy!

      Ah yay! I want to read more of her works, but goodness, it is so hard to find them. T_T Kindred was accessible but I’m hoping to find Parable of the Sower.
      Oooh I’ve never heard of those but thanks for telling me about them! I’ll check them out!

      Oooh yes yes! I’ve already planned by LGBTQIA+ book recs month – it shall be glorious. ❤

      • A lot of them are on Kindle, if you’re that way inclined. I just read Bloodchild which was only a 30 page story. Not as good as Kindred tho. :/

        Yay!!! I think I’ve scheduled too many posts for the rest of February to do a LGBT+ history month post. Oops!

  5. I definitely have Homegoing on my pile. Was even thinking of starting it, but had to move it around since this other book is getting published soon and I got an ARC of it! (oops) My most recent read is by Zadie Smith — Swing Time — which has gorgeous prose as well.

  6. Another fantastic post! I also read Brown Girl Dreaming this month and absolutely loved it as well. I tend to shy away from poetry, but I am so glad I gave it a go.

    Homegoing and The Hate U Give are also on my TBR. Homegoing has been sitting on my shelf begging to be read and I pre-ordered The Hate U Give. Cannot wait to pick them up!

    There were a few books featured in this post that I had not heard of before. I will definitely check them out on Goodreads!

    • Hi Amanda!
      I’m glad you enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming like I did. I’m not a poetry person either, but loved Woodson’s writing. It was enchanting.

      Ah, I’m exciting for those books too! I’ve put a hold of THUG in my library, but I think it’s going to take me awhile to get it… I’m the 33rd person in line!!

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  8. Thank you for the recs! I’m so excited to read The Hate U Give (if my copy would ever arrive to my house haha). I also really want to pick up Kindred, especially after your review!

    • Hi Jananee!
      I can’t wait to read THUG too! I can’t afford to buy my own copy atm, so I’m #33 on the library hold list. T_T My turn will come… one day!!

      And ahhh yes, Kindred is SO SO good! I cannot recommend it enough, and Butler’s writing is phenomenal.

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  12. I recently read You In Five Acts, which has a black Ballerina MC and some others (hispanic, etc.), I also recently read Wing Jones, which has a biracial black-chinese MC

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