Books

80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Take a long, hard look at your bookshelves. Does your collection properly represent the diversity of our world today? Specifically, how many books by black authors do you own?

If you’re anything like me, the answer is, very few. It’s an unfortunate reality and one we need to actively change.

We should be asking ourselves, why are more authors of color not mainstream? Why are best-sellers lists filled with white authors? What can I, as a reader and consumer, do to help change that?

It’s time we start supporting authors of color and giving them the recognition they deserve, not only during times of protest, but every. single. day. And as you continue to read, I encourage you to start being more mindful of the authors you buy. This is just a small part that you can do to work toward creating a more equal community.

So to get you started on your journey to diversifying your shelves and supporting authors of color, below you’ll find tons of amazing, highly-rated books by black authors from almost every genre. Enjoy!

*Please note, this blog contains affiliate links so I will earn a small commission for anything that you purchase. However, all of my earnings made through this blog will be donated to Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). NAZ strives to end generational poverty and build a culture of achievement in Minneapolis for all low-income children of color.

Contemporary Fiction By Black Authors

This section offers a wide variety of books from the contemporary and literary fiction genres. These stories tell the tales of love, racial disparities, coming-of-age experiences, marital woes, and so much more.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Stunning . . .  The debut novel examines the complicated, strange proximity of love, grief, and loss, and how this manifests in the body . . . Clemmons skillfully draws on the humor that stems from the duality of conflicting cultures. Her prose is funny, fragile, and unflinchingly candid. Her characters are as flawed as they are honest, confronting their own fragmented relationships and identities.” – BOMB

Shop What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons here >>


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Such a Fun Age keeps it real on race, wealth, and class….Subtly illustrat[es] the systemic racism in America and the ways that we’re routinely perpetuating it or being subjected to it on a daily basis. The question that will sit with readers for days after finishing the book: What role do I play?” – Marie Claire 

Shop Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid here >>


I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“The reader finds herself torn between gritting her teeth at how right McMillan gets the relationships between best friends, ex-spouses, ex-lovers, parents and children and putting the book down to laugh out loud. Run, don’t walk and pick up this exuberant summer read.” – BookPage

Shop I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan here >>


Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“[Red at the Bone] subtly explores the ways in which desire can reconfigure our best-laid plans, and its expansive outlook suggests how easily, in African-American life, hard-won privileges can be dissolved.” – The New Yorker

Shop Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson here >>


What is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

What is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Flirting with the speculative, Oyeyemi weaves stories about living puppets and their puppet masters, old diaries not meant to be opened, ancient libraries, and secret gardens. It’s hands-down my favorite book of the year thus far.” – The Chicago Review of Books

Shop What is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi here >>


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Tayari Jones’s wise and compassionate new novel, An American Marriage is a clear vision of the quiet devastation of a family. It is beautifully written, with many allusions to black music and culture — including the everyday poetry of the African-American community that begs to be heard.” The New York Times Book Review

Shop An American Marriage by Tayari Jones here >>


Loving Day by Mat Johnson

Loving Day by Mat Johnson | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Loving Day is wonderful satire, sharp and funny about so many contemporary themes and anxieties, including race, money, family, sex, and love. Mat Johnson has a deep comic gift, and his laughs always come with real thought and feeling.” – Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask and The Fun Parts

Shop Loving Day by Mat Johnson here >>


Salvage The Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Salvage The Bones by Jesmyn Ward | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Salvage the Bones expands our understanding of Katrina’s devastation, beyond the pictures of choked rooftops in New Orleans and toward the washed-out, feral landscapes elsewhere along the coast.” – New Yorker

Shop Salvage The Bones by Jesmyn Ward here >>


Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Allen writes in a sharp, lively voice that is full of warmth and humor…Touching on issues of professional womanhood, race, and family, the author crafts a novel that is both timely and enjoyable.” – Kirkus Reviews

Shop Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen here >>


Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse.” – The Washington Post

Shop Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue here >>


We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Set in the post-post-racial South, We Cast a Shadow tells the story of a man…desperate to pay for his biracial son to undergo demelanization. It is this desperation that haunts this novel and, in this desperation, we see just how pernicious racism is, how irrevocably it can alter how a man sees the world, himself, and those he loves. It is a chilling, unforgettable cautionary tale, and one we should all read and heed.”—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist

Shop We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin here >>


Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Another Brooklyn is a breathtaking account of growing up female and black in a time of conflicting pressures and crushing assumptions, and in doing so creating a lifetime of memories.” – Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review

Shop Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson here >>


The Mothers by Brit Bennet

The Mothers by Brit Bennet | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“As much as The Mothers is steeped in black culture, it’s also pointedly, poignantly universal in its depiction of young love and friendship and hard choices.” – Entertainment Weekly

Shop The Mothers by Brit Bennet here >>


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A gripping and brilliant novel based on a true story about a boys’ reformatory school in Florida in the 1960s. Whitehead is one of the most daring and gifted authors writing these days, and I will never miss one of his books.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls

Shop The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead here >>


Contemporary Romance by Black Authors

If you enjoy fun, flirty stories of love, you’ll adore these contemporary romances written by authors of color.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“What a charming, warm, sexy gem of a novel. I couldn’t put The Wedding Date down. I love a good romance and this delivered from the first page to the last.” – Roxane Gay, author of Hunger

Shop The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory here >>


The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A prime example of how complex and insightful romances can be. Farrah Rochon deftly explores what it means to go viral, the unique joys of strong female friendships, and the particular struggles of Black women in the workplace, all within a great love story.” – Jasmine Guillory, author of The Wedding Date

Shop The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon here >>


Get A Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get A Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Absolutely charming… a flawless balance of humor, heat, sweetness, and depth, and I loved every page.” – Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test

Shop Get A Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert here >>


The Best Worst Man by Mia Sosa

The Best Worst Man by Mia Sosa | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“The plot is classic “enemies to lovers” and is executed perfectly…slow-burn romance done perfectly right…A captivating love story about two people who bring out the best in each other both professionally and personally.” – Kirkus Review

Shop The Best Worst Man by Mia Sosa here >>


Young Adult (YA) Books by Black Authors

From fantasy to romance, this section has a wide variety of stunning YA books by black authors that all YA-lovers need in their collection.

Everything, Everything Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything Nicola Yoon

“This heartwarming story transcends the ordinary by exploring the hopes, dreams, and inherent risks of love in all of its forms.” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Shop Everything Everything Nicola Yoon here >>


With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Acevedo compassionately challenges her readers with a wide variety of topics, including cultural and personal identity and the needs and desires of older women, something that is so often forgotten…This sophomore novel is simply stunning.” – Booklist (starred review)

Shop With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo here >>


The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

The Girl with the Louding Voice is a beautifully rendered, achingly real portrait of Adunni, a young woman finding her strength and shaping her destiny in modern day Nigeria….Brava to Daré for bringing this compelling character out of the shadows and into our lives.” – Tara Conklin, author of The House Girl and The Last Romantics

Shop The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare here >>


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“… Adeyemi keeps it fresh with an all-black cast of characters, a meaningful emphasis on fighting for justice, a complex heroine saving her own people, and a brand of magic made more powerful by the strength of heritage and ancestry.” – Booklist, Starred Review

Shop Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi here >>


A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Set in a world of ancient magic, Brown spins a fantastical tale that is full of heart, adventure, and intrigue. Readers will delight in the lush details of a world and characters so vividly drawn that they leap off the page.” – Rena Barron, author of Kingdom of Souls

Shop A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown here >>


The Stars and the Blackness Between Them By Junauda Petrus

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them By Junauda Petrus | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“The most gorgeous, profound, spiritually uplifting, queer Black Afro-futuristic-magical, ancestral love oracle/book I’ve ever read in my whole life.” – Gabby Rivera, author of Juliet Takes a Breath and America

Shop The Stars and the Blackness Between Them By Junauda Petrus here >>


Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Magnetic and addictive, Kingdom of Souls turns ambition into sacrifice and blood into power. Magic is always worth the price—and the pain—and this book is black girl magic at its finest.” – Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles

Shop Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron here >>


On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“While acknowledging that society is quick to slap labels onto black teens, the author allows her heroine to stumble and fall before finding her footing and her voice…a compelling coming-of-age story for all teens.” – School Library Journal

Shop On The Come Up by Angie Thomas here >>


Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Exceptional storytelling, well-crafted, true-to-life dialogue, and the richly drawn Brooklyn landscape will draw readers into this fast-paced blend of mystery, budding romance, and social commentary.” – Kirkus Reviews

Shop Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson here >>


The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“The start of a bold and immersive West African-inspired, feminist fantasy series for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther. In this world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice.” – Amazon

Shop The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna here >>


A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Morrow masterfully blends the real lives of Black girls in contemporary Portland with a mythic world of sirens, gargoyles and other supernatural creatures to create a compelling coming-of-age story in which two sisters, bound by love and fate, find their voices and their power.” – Rebecca Roanhorse, author of Trail of Lightning and Star Wars: Resistance Reborn

Shop A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow here >>


Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard

Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

A fun tale about a half-mortal girl whose older siblings, the ancient Greek gods, are disguised as humans living in Portland. She must keep their identities secret, while still navigating the trials of being a teenager such as new friends, cute boys, and issues at Mount Olympus.

Shop Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard here >>


Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Relationships take a central role in this passionate novel, as Reynolds delves into the emotional experience of Jack’s inner circle, giving them and their interpersonal connections depth. It’s an intense ride and readers are likely going to want to stick with Jack to the (real) end.” – Shelf Awareness

Shop Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds here >>


The Voice In My Head by Dana L. Davis

The Voice In My Head by Dana L. Davis | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“An endearing and compelling coming-of-age story. Dana L. Davis captures the messy, complicated love of family in a road trip novel that redefines what it means to truly live.” – Nancy Richardson Fischer, author of When Elephants Fly

Shop The Voice In My Head by Dana L. Davis here >


Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A really special book with much to say about black female identity, sexual politics, group chats, emotional becoming in a way that feels totally unforced. Filthy, funny, and profound.” – Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti

Shop Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams here >>


Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

The stories, all worth savoring, share a celebratory outlook on black teenagers fully and courageously embracing life.” – Publishers Weekly

Shop Black Enough by Ibi Zoboi here >>


Daughters of Nri by Reni K Amayo

Daughters of Nri by Reni K Amayo | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

When a gruesome war results in the Gods departing Earth, the only remnants of their existence lie in two twins who were separated at birth, who grow up believing they are human. This fantasy novel explores an epic journey to self-discovery as these sisters find their way back to one another.

Shop Daughters of Nri by Reni K Amayo here >>


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“As we continue to fight the battle against police brutality and systemic racism in America, THE HATE U GIVE serves as a much needed literary ramrod. Absolutely riveting!” Jason Reynolds, coauthor of ALL AMERICAN BOYS

Shop The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas here >>


Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Alaine’s adventures in Haiti were so intense and engaging, I could almost feel the dirt beneath my fingernails, could almost smell the peanuts and plantains. But I think my favorite part was ultimately the female empowerment that permeated every part of this tale, past and present. – Alethea Kontis, NPR

Shop Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite here >>


Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A highly needed work for the #MeToo movement. . . . Watson and Hagan do not disappoint in this powerful story of two girls who take a stand against injustice while learning how to navigate a world that seeks to silence them.” ― School Library Journal

Shop Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan here >>


Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“This debut coming-of-age novel showcases the complex relationship between family, spirituality, and self. On her journey to discovering herself, Taja learns the importance of recognizing self-worth and feeling like you truly belong.” – Brightly

Shop Calling My Name by Liara Tamani here >>


Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin by Nic Stone | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A powerful, wrenching, and compulsively readable story that lays bare the history, and the present, of racism in America.” – John Green, author of Turtles All the Way Down

Shop Dear Martin by Nic Stone here >>


What Momma Left Me by Renée Watson

What Momma Left Me by Renée Watson | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Serenity Evans is a strong African-American character who will resonate with girls who are facing transitions of their own, large or small.” ― School Library Journal

Shop What Momma Left Me by Renée Watson here >>


The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Colbert’s latest novel brilliantly delves into first loves, forbidden romance, rebellion, and family expectations-all of which teens will strongly relate to.”―Booklist, starred review

Shop The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert here >>


The Sun Is Also A Star Nicola Yoon

The Sun Is Also A Star Nicola Yoon

“An exhilarating, hopeful novel exploring identity, family, the love of science and the science of love, dark matter and interconnectedness–is about seeing and being seen and the possibility of love… and it shines.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review 

Shop The Sun Is Also A Star Nicola Yoon here >>


Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“This is a story about friendships, finding first loves, and continuing to discover yourself even after you thought you had all the answers… It’s going to change lives.” – Mason Deaver, author of I Wish You All the Best

Shop Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender here >>


Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles

Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Not So Pure and Simple manages to put real issues in the spotlight, like toxic masculinity and societal pressures on youth while still being a funny, heartfelt, and wildly charming read!” – Jay Coles, author of Tyler Johnson Was Here

Shop Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles here >>


Thriller & Mystery Books by Black Authors

For all of you thriller lovers, it’s time to add some of these must-have books by black authors to your list!

The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith

The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“With a masterful hand, Ian Smith has written a novel that immerses us in the dark intrigue of one of the country’s oldest secret societies. The Ancient Nine is thrilling, exciting, and shocking from beginning to end.” ― Michael Eric Dyson, author of Tears We Cannot Stop

Shop The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith here >>


American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“An expertly written spy thriller . . . that tackles issues of politics, race and gender . . . Like the best of John le Carré, it’s extremely tough to put down. It marks the debut of an immensely talented writer who’s refreshingly unafraid to take risks, and has the skills to make those risks pay off.” – NPR

Shop American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson here >>


Down the River Unto The Sea by Walter Mosley

Down the River Unto The Sea by Walter Mosley | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A wild ride that delivers hard-boiled satisfaction while toying with our prejudices and preconceptions . . . The darker and uglier the story gets, the more Joe King Oliver comes alive. . . . The journey is fun and joyful. . . . A fitting work for a world riddled with dark contradiction.”― Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times

Shop Down the River Unto The Sea by Walter Mosley here >>


Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey

Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Must-read romance…A cerebral, sometimes sensual, sometimes suspenseful, and quite a memorable ride.”—USA Today

Shop Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey here >>


Fantasy Books by Black Authors

There isn’t a strong presence of authors of color in the adult fantasy genre, but the ones below have been very highly-rated and are certainly worth the read!

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1) by Evan Winter

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1) by Evan Winter | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

The Rage of Dragons takes the best parts of epic fantasy and sets them in a refreshing and inventive new world, a gripping tale that makes clear the true cost of war and colonialism with one of the most enthralling hero’s journeys I’ve read.”― S. A. Chakraborty, author of City of Brass

Shop The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter here >>


Black Leopard by Marlon James

Black Leopard by Marlon James | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“He’s produced a sprawling fantasy novel set in a dark-age Africa of witches, spirits, dazzling imperial citadels and impenetrable forests. In a genre dominated by imagery derived from the European middle ages, Black Leopard, Red Wolf feels new and exciting.” — Wall Street Journal

Shop Black Leopard by Marlon James here >>


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“The heart of Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing is story — the yearning for a narrative to help us understand ourselves, the pain of the gaps we’ll never fill, the truths that are failed by words and must be translated through ritual and song …. Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love, and this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it.” — Buzzfeed

Shop Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward here >>



War Girls (War Girls, #1) by Tochi Onyebuchi

War Girls (War Girls, #1) by Tochi Onyebuchi | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Set amid the horrors of war in a world ravaged by climate change and nuclear disaster, this heart-wrenching and complex page-turner, drawn from the 1960s Nigerian civil war, will leave readers stunned and awaiting the second installment.”- Publishers Weekly, starred review 

Shop War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi here >>


Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Callender’s first adult novel draws race relations, conquest, magic, and politics into an imaginative, layered story that will keep readers twisting until the end. The author’s personal experience growing up in St. Thomas lends to the rich setting and postcolonial themes.”― Library Journal (starred review)

Shop Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender here >>


Historical Fiction by Black Authors

Historical fiction is a predominantly white genre, but there are some amazing options from authors of color. Check out the following and add them to your shelves!

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Secrets, heartache, and healing fill this story spanning two generations of women living in the South before and after the Civil War. Atakora’s writing grips you from the first page of this soon-to-be-published novel. It’s no surprise that she is being hailed as a successor to Toni Morrison.”The Week

Shop Conjure Women by Afia Atakora here >>


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Thanks to Ms. Gyasi’s instinctive storytelling gifts, the book leaves the reader with a visceral understanding of both the savage realities of slavery and the emotional damage that is handed down, over the centuries. . . . By its conclusion, the characters’ tales of loss and resilience have acquired an inexorable and cumulative emotional weight.” —The New York Times

Shop Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi here >>


A Brief History Of Seven Killings by Marlon James

A Brief History Of Seven Killings by Marlon James | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A prismatic story of gang violence and Cold War politics in a turbulent post-independence Jamaica.” — The New Yorker

Shop A Brief History Of Seven Killings by Marlon James here >>


The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Enthralling. . . . One remarkably resilient woman is placed against the hopes and struggles of millions of African Americans who held this nation to its promise.” — The Washington Post

Shop The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis here >>


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Bennett’s gorgeously written second novel, an ambitious meditation on race and identity, considers the divergent fates of twin sisters, born in the Jim Crow South, after one decides to pass for white. Bennett balances the literary demands of dynamic characterization with the historical and social realities of her subject matter.” – The New York Times

Shop The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet here >>


Flygirl by Sherri Smith

Flygirl by Sherri Smith | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“This well-told, interesting story moves along at a good clip . . . A vibrant picture of WWII women and of Jim Crow as it was then.” – Kirkus Reviews

Shop Flygirl by Sherri Smith here >>


The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Coates balances the horrors of slavery against the fantastical. He extends the idea of the gifts of the disenfranchised to include a kind of superpower… In the end, it is a novel interested in the psychological effects of slavery, a grief that Coates is especially adept at parsing…” Esi Edugyan, The New York Times Book Review

Shop The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates here >>


Memoirs by Black Authors

These memoirs and heartbreaking, beautiful, and eye-opening. If you want to begin to educate yourself on cultural differences, racism, and the life-experiences of our black community, this is where you need to start.

Black Is The Body by Emily Bernard

Black Is The Body by Emily Bernard | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Black Is the Body is one of the most beautiful, elegant memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s about race, it’s about womanhood, it’s about friendship, it’s about a life of the mind, and also a life of the body. But more than anything, it’s about love. I can’t praise Emily Bernard enough for what she has created in these pages.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Shop Black Is The Body by Emily Bernard here >>


Ordinary Light by Tracy K Smith

Ordinary Light by Tracy K Smith | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Smith writes as a daughter who has lost her mother and is thinking of her own daughter. . . . She offers her painstaking reflections on what went into the making of her.” — The New York Times Book Review

Shop Ordinary Light by Tracy K Smith here >>


More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Throughout her career, author Elaine Welteroth has often been the only black woman in the room. Learn how she broke down barriers—across several different intersections—to succeed in the media and fashion industries and become one of her generation’s changemakers. . . . Welteroth’s words may be just what you need to take back your confidence and head down the path toward a new job.” — Forbes

Shop More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth here >>


You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Phoebe Robinson has a way of casually, candidly rough-housing with tough topics like race and sex and gender that makes you feel a little safer and a lot less alone. If something as wise and funny as You Can’t Touch My Hair exists in the world, we can’t all be doomed. Phoebe is my hero and this book is my wife.”— Lindy West, author of Shrill

Shop You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson here >>


How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Jones’ explosive and poetic memoir traces his coming-of-age as a black, queer, and Southern man in vignettes that heartbreakingly and rigorously explore the beauty of love, the weight of trauma, and the power of resilience.”Entertainment Weekly

Shop How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones here >>


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . In the end, Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Shop Born a Crime by Trevor Noah here >>


Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming by Michelle Obama | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

An intimate memoir from our former first lady. Michelle Obama chronicles the events that shaped her, from growing up in the South Side of Chicago to her adult years as a professional executive. It’s a deeply personal story that you won’t want to miss.

Shop Becoming by Michelle Obama here >>


Poetry & Essays by Black Authors

Open your eyes and heart to the life-experiences of these authors through their poems, verse, and essays.

Helium by Rudy Francisco

Helium by Rudy Francisco | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Rudy’s debut poetry collection blends personal and political topics such as self-reflection, cultural critiques, race, gender, and more into this masterpiece of poems.

Shop Helium by Rudy Francisco here >>


Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith

Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

Don’t Call Us Dead is poet Danez Smith’s ferocious second collection. With humanity and heart, Smith contemplates the assaults on a black, male body in America ― police brutality, violence, and AIDS, and the resulting culture of danger, suspicion, grief, psychological pain, and resistance.”― BuzzFeed

Shop Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith here >>


We Want Our Bodies Back by Jessica Care Moore

We Want Our Bodies Back by Jessica Care Moore | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Imbued with heartache, anger, celebration, and rejuvenation, the poems in We Want Our Bodies Back reflect the sui generis funktified flyness that jessica Care moore has exemplified as an independent artist, activist, publisher, and curator for nearly a quarter-century. . .” – Tony Bolden, author of Afro-Blue: Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture

Shop We Want Our Bodies Back by Jessica Care Moore here >>


Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim

Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Edim’s collection of brief, pithy, and original essays by twenty-one distinguished black women addresses the question, ‘When did you first see yourself in literature?’ . . . Speaking directly to black women readers, this book contains a journey from which anyone can derive enjoyment and benefit.”— Publishers Weekly

Shop Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim here >>


They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“With a voice that rings clear off the page, Abdurraqib is an accomplished wordsmith, whose reflections on pop culture are intensely personal, political and utterly compelling.” CBC (Canada)

Shop They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib here >>


Anti-Racist Education by Black Authors:

Regardless of how anti-racist you think you are, we all need to continue to learn about the racial disparities within our world. These books will help guide your understanding of racism, white privilege, colorblindness, and more.

*Update: As of June 2020, many of the below books are currently sold out, but you can still order them and they will ship immediately upon availability!

Between the World and Me by Meby Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me by Meby Ta-Nehisi Coates | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Written as a series of letters to his teenaged son, his new memoir, Between the World and Me, walks us through the course of his life, from the tough neighborhoods of Baltimore in his youth, to Howard University—which Coates dubs “The Mecca” for its revelatory community of black students and teachers—to the broader Meccas of New York and Paris. . .Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, and South Carolina are not bumps on the road of progress and harmony, but the results of a systemized, ubiquitous threat to “black bodies” in the form of slavery, police brutality, and mass incarceration. Coates is direct and, as usual, uncommonly insightful and original. There are no wasted words. This is a powerful and exceptional book.” – Jon Foro

Shop Between the World and Me by Meby Ta-Nehisi Coates here >>


So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Simply put: Ijeoma Oluo is a necessary voice and intellectual for these times, and any time, truth be told. Her ability to write so smartly and honestly with strokes of humor about race in America is heaven sent and demonstrates just how desperately we all need to be talking about race, and perhaps, more importantly, this insightful book shows those in power or privilege how they need to listen.”Phoebe Robinsonauthor of You Can’t Touch My Hair and Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay

Shop So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo here >>


Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi 

Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi  | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Kendi has done something that’s damn near impossible: write a book about racism that breaks new ground, while being written in a way that’s accessible to the nonacademic. If you’ve ever been interested in how racist ideas spread throughout the United States, this is the book to read.”― The Root

Shop Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi here >>


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

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“Alexander is absolutely right to fight for what she describes as a ‘much-needed conversation’ about the wide-ranging social costs and divisive racial impact of our criminal-justice policies.”— Ellis Cose, Newsweek

Shop The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander here >


Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

This book discusses the psychology of racism and is for anyone seeking to better understand the current racial dynamics in America.

Shop Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? here >>


The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole

The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“The sheer strength of this book arises from its insistent linking of policing, prisons, public education, migrant labour, impoverished neighbourhoods and the fates of refugees. The Skin We’re In is about the interlocking forces besieging Black life in Canada; and it is also about organizing resistance and imagining futures in bravely intimate terms.” — David Chariandy, author of Brother

Shop The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole here >>


White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

**I am very aware that this it not a black author and this is the only author I have made ad exception for because I truly did not feel that I could create a section on anti-racism without the inclusion of this book.**

“A vital, necessary, and beautiful book, a bracing call to white folk everywhere to see their whiteness for what it is and to seize the opportunity to make things better now.” — Michael Eric Dyson

Shop White Fragility by Robin Diangelo here >>


White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“An unflinching look at America’s long history of structural and institutionalized racism, White Rage is a timely and necessary examination of white anger and aggression towards black America . . . A compelling look at American history, White Rage has never seemed more relevant than it does today.” – Bustle

Shop White Rage by Carol Anderson here >>


How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi | 80+ Must-Have Books by Black Authors

“A boldly articulated, historically informed explanation of what exactly racist ideas and thinking are . . . [Kendi’s] prose is thoughtful, sincere, and polished. This powerful book will spark many conversations.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Shop How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi here >>

Share Your Favorites

Obviously, this is just a small collection, but hopefully it shows you how prevalent authors of color actually are in each genre! So as readers, it’s our job to give them the praise and support that they and their work deserves!

I would love to know, what are some of your favorite books by black authors? Leave a comment below and let me know so I can continue to expend upon this list!

3 Comments

RSS
Follow by Email
Twitter
Pinterest