This was a series I was planning on starting later on in the year but due to recent events, I’ve boosted it up to now. Despite making it my mission to read more diversely this year, I have still fallen short on reading too many books by Black authors but I am determined for that to change. Below I have chosen some books by Black authors that I have read and loved and also some that I want to read fairly soon. This series will become a regular feature on the blog and I hope you all make it your mission also to read and support these authors.
by Brittney Morris
If you have followed our blog for a while then you’ll know this was one of my favourite reads of 2019. Combining my love of books and video games was a sure way to grab my attention, not to mention an amazing Black protagonist who has developed her own online role-playing card game for fellow Black people around the world, known as SLAY. The whole premise behind the creation of the game was a place for Black people like our protagonist, Kiera to feel safe and welcomed in a video game community and Brittney created an in-book game that is just so amazing. This story also has beautiful familial relationships and a friendship at the heart of it. Even if you’re not a gamer, I’d still recommend it and you can read my full review here.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown
by Talia Hibbert
A few months ago I went through a huge romance phase and when I tell you this one stood out, I am not lying. We follow the story of Chloe who lives with a chronic illness she feels has always held her back so that is why she’s determined to ‘get a life.’ This means making a list including everything from riding a motorcycle to meaningless sex. But being a stickler for the rules, this is no easy task so that is when her apartment’s handyman comes in the form of Redford. What follows is both a beautiful, and hot story about what it means to push your boundaries. The sequel is also out now titled Take a Hint, Dani Brown and this follows Chloe’s sister so I am very excited to get a copy of that too.
by Akwaeke Emezi
I only recently read this book and it made a huge impression on me, especially because of its main character, Jam. She is a Black trans girl and is selectively verbal, using sign language to communicate frequently. Not only that but the entire cast of characters are Black and this book really drills family values home. The book deals with the topic of monsters and the idea that just because we cannot see monsters, it does not mean they no longer exist. Despite being only three when Jam first discovers her identity, she is welcomed with open arms and is supported through her transition. Such an incredible read with so many important topics.
The Black Flamingo
by Dean Atta
This collection of poetry follows the story of mixed-race gay teen, Michael as we follow him from early childhood to the start of adulthood. Struggling with his identity over the years, Michael feels like he doesn’t truly fit anywhere. Being Jamaican and Greek-Cypriot, we see him struggling with feeling like he doesn’t truly identify with his Cypriot identity and it really delves into the feelings mixed-race children can have. We also see him targeted by his dark skin by people assuming he’s a criminal. This poetry touches on so many topics up until Michael soon discovers the world of drag and embraces himself fully.
On the Come Up
by Angie Thomas
I bought this book on its release day after falling in love with The Hate U Give, however I feel like this one is very underrated in comparison even though it’s just as incredible. In this YA contemporary, we follow the story of Bri who wants to be a great rapper and not just because her late father was one too. But when Bri’s anger over the discrimination and worries in her life get turned into a song, it isn’t long before it goes viral and is faced with a lot of controversy. But Bri isn’t about to let this stop her dreams, even when the odds are stacked against her. This book also tackles police brutality and discrimination so I’d be aware of that before reading.
by Yaa Gyasi
I first read this book what feels like a long long time ago but it has always stayed with me and you see me recommend it at least five times a year. Spanning over the course of 300 years and starting in Ghana, we follow the story of sisters, Effia and Esi. Effia is married off to an Englishman and therefore lives a life of luxury. However, Esi is sold into the slave trade and so are her children and grandchildren. We follow multiple characters over the course of these centuries all the way from Africa to America and how the tales of their ancestors have plagued them throughout time. It’s a very hard-hitting book and I wouldn’t suggest reading it until you’re in the right headspace but it’s one that never truly leaves you.
by Rivers Solomon
My first experience with this sci-fi novella was seeing the cover one day and immediately thinking to myself ‘I need it now.’ And I was not disappointed. This story follows the stories of the African slave women who after being thrown overboard have managed to build their own underground society. Our main character, Yetu holds the tragic memories of her people and as the historian it is her job to document them but when the job gets too much, she flees to the surface. This story has stayed with me, especially as it is such a heartbreaking and interesting take on the tragedies of the African slaves who were lost at sea. Despite it being short, it packs a punch and is a novella I’d recommend to everyone and anyone.
Want To Read
by Camryn Garrett
This is going to be my next read after hearing so many amazing things about it on Twitter. We follow Simone Garcia-Hampton as she is about to embark on a journey of new friends, making a name for herself and summoning the courage to talk to her crush, Miles. However, Simon is HIV-positive and doesn’t want the knowledge coming out like it did in her last school. But when her and Miles get closer, Simone must make the decision between sharing her diagnosis or keeping it secret. I hear this book really explores the world of HIV, especially for a young teenager and is very sex-positive. Not only that but Simone has a beautiful relationship with her two dads and a friendship group that is integral to the story.
Felix Ever After
by Kacen Callender
I featured this book in my LGBTQ+ 2020 releases series and since then I have been so excited to read it, especially now as so many amazing reviews are popping up on my social medias. This YA contemporary follows Felix Love who despite his name, has never been in love. Being Black, queer, and transgender, Felix fears he’s one too many marginalizations away from ever getting a happy-ever-after. However, when he starts receiving transphobic messages, Felix knows he must get revenge but what he wasn’t prepared for was a love triangle at the same time. Not only that but seeing a book featuring top surgery scars on the cover just blew me away. I’m ready to have my heart broken by this one.
Black Girl Unlimited
by Echo Brown
This YA fantasy with elements of magic realism follows the story of Echo Brown, a wizard living on the East Side. Despite living in a bad area, Echo knows that there is magic everywhere and when a portal appears, she begins traveling between the two worlds but soon realises there are dangers to leaving behind the places that made you. A heavily autobiographical book featuring the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism all in a coming-of-age tale definitely makes this a priority for me to read this month.
by Tochi Onyebuchi
This fantasy/sci-fi novel explores the ideas of structural racism and brutality by following the story of brother and sister, Ella and Kev – both of which are blessed with extraordinary powers. However, their childhoods are shapes with discrimination meaning their futures might alter the world. When Kev is arrested for the simple reason of being a young black man in America, it is up to Ella to begin a revolution. A short but powerful read exploring the idea of cycles of violence and racism and the young black children who are forever affected by it.
The Sound of Stars
by Alechia Dow
This is another book that’s been on my radar since including it in my LGBTQ+ series and is one I definitely want to read soon. This is a sci-fi novel that takes place after an alien invasion and we follow a Black, demisexual teenage protagonist known as Janelle “Ellie” Baker who has a love for books. After the alien invasion, all forms of art become prohibited and Ellie decides to fight back against them by running a secret library and it isn’t long before she meets an alien who despite being raised to be emotionless, has a deep love for music. With their shared love of the arts, the two join together and begin a road-trip to ultimately save the world. Being demisexual myself, I was so excited to hear Ellie herself was too so this book sounds like everything I want in fiction.
All Boys Aren’t Blue
by George M. Johnson
Despite being the only non-fiction in this list, I just had to include it. This memoir is a series of personal essays from journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist, George M. Johnson. We hear about his childhood and adolescence up until his college years. We hear everything from his experiences being bullied and his fond memories of visiting flea markets with his grandmother. Overall, it is the exploration of both the tragedies and triumphs experienced by Black queer boys and explores topics such as toxic masculinity, gender identity, consent, Black joy and much more. It is a staple for anybody’s bookshelf and I can’t wait to finally get my hands on a copy.
You Should See Me in a Crown
by Leah Johnson
This much-talked about YA contemporary follows the story of Liz Lighty who has always believed she’s too Black and too poor to fit into her prom-obsessed Midwestern town. Desperate to get out of there, Liz has a plan that includes attending the elite Pennington College and make something of herself. However, when she realises she doesn’t have the funds for this dream, she remembers the scholarship awarded to prom king or queen. So despite this being Liz’s worst nightmare, she’s doing whatever it takes to achieve her dreams and the only thing making the ordeal bearable is new girl, Mack who just happens to be her competition…
A Song Below Water
by Bethany C. Morrow
This YA fantasy is not only blessed by the most beautiful cover but it is also the story of a Black siren living in Portland. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. Tavia is forced to keep her siren identity secret in a town with very few Black people and even less people with magical abilities. However, she has her best friend Effie and together the pair can face everything from highschool drama to family secrets. However, when a siren-murder trial rocks the nation, the girl’s secrets are no longer safe, especially when an Internet fashion icon reveals she is a siren herself. Faced with demons from their past, the girl’s lives start unravelling until nothing feels safe anymore.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
by Junauda Petrus
This book popped onto my radar thanks to this amazing video by Fadwa over on her Booktube channel. It’s a YA contemporary that follows the story of two Black girls from very different worlds finding love and happiness even when they feel like the world is up against them. Audre is heartbroken when she finds out she’ll soon be moving from Trinidad to Minneapolis after getting caught with her girlfriend by her strictly religious mum. Now in America, Audre is invited to dinner and it is there she meets Mabel who is currently confused about her feelings for her ex vs the moments she had with a girl in the woods. Together the two girls get to know each other and fall deeply for each other but their happiness is threatened when Mabel falls ill. A debut novel that sounds extremely powerful.
Lots of Love,