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Books By Black Authors That Everyone Should Read

5 minutes read

- Written by Yubo Team

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Celebrate Black voices this Black History Month (and every other month) by reading words written, stories told, and history explained by Black authors. Here is a list of books by Black authors to help you learn, understand, and celebrate both Black history and Black excellence

If you’re interested in buying any of the books listed below, please check out Racial Justice Bookshelf to help guide you to Black-Owned Bookstores to purchase them from!

Books to Learn

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness  by Michelle Alexander

Alexander points out the racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and argues that mass incarceration has become a new form of oppression for Black Americans in the post-civil rights era. 

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois

W.E.B Du Bois explores the experiences of black Americans in the aftermath of slavery in terms of race, identity, and the struggle for equality. Read free here.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. 

Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history. 

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass

The autobiography of Frederick Douglass, a former slave who escaped and became a leading abolitionist. Read free here.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Three young people set out on a perilous journey out of the Jim Crow South to the North and West in search of what novelist Richard Wright called “the warmth of other suns.”

Books to Understand

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Urban Fiction) 

A sixteen-year-old girl was the only witness to a fatal shooting of her best friend at the hands of a police officer. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Biography) 

Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis by writing this novel as a letter to his adolescent son. 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Historical Fiction) 

Gyasi illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed – and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

Sin, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Thriller) 

When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Historical Fiction) 

A stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. 

Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Domestic Fiction) 

Red At the Bone is about love, and family, and the Tulsa Race Massacre, and Brooklyn, and getting pregnant young, and falling in love for the first time, and heartbreak, and motherhood, and daughterhood – the list goes on and on. 

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Domestic Fiction) 

A gripping page-turner with serious things to say about racism, class, gender, parenting, and privilege in modern America. 

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Historical & Fantasy Fiction) 

An unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virigna’s proud plantations to desperate guerilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fiction) 

A powerful, tender story of race and identity. Two young lovers depart for the west, one landing in America, and the other entering a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria and reignite their passion – for each other and for their homeland. 

Books to Inspire

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. 

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly 

Hidden Figures recovers the history of these pioneering women and situates it in the intersection of the deining movements of the American century: the Cold War, the Spae Race, and the Civil Rights movement and the quest for gender equality. 

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (Fiction) 

A nameless narrator describes growing up in a Black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he was expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”. 

Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires by Shomari Wills

Between the years of 1830 and 1927, as the last generation of Blacks born into slavery was reaching maturity, a small group of industrious, tenacious, and daring men and women broke new ground to attain the highest levels of financial success. 

Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by Kimberly Brown Pellum

Celebrates the incredible Black women in STEM who have used their brains, bravery and ambition to beat the odds. Features 15 powerful stories of fearless female scientists.

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