There’s really no place I can begin other than to say that Black Lives Matter.
It’s only been in the last decade that I’ve given much thought to who wrote the books I was reading. I used to walk into a bookstore, or browse the covers online, and pick at random based on what ‘looked interesting.’ Or I’d have received a recommendation from someone. Or, for many years, I was reading for school, and then fell into a long period of re-reading favorites from before college and not venturing out to see what was outside of my bubble.
When I began to read more works written by women, I began to read more diversely overall.
Reading diversely is hugely important. We are accustomed to our narrow pocket of existence, but reading diversely opens up our minds so that we’re able to think more critically, think bigger thoughts, and to question ourselves, others, society…everything.
Reading diversely takes us outside of ourselves, but it can also make us turn around and look take a hard look at who we are and who we want to be.
I’ve seen in the last week or so lists of upcoming releases by black authors, which is hugely exciting me because I’m always on the prowl for more books, despite having far too many I want to read already. But I’ve also seen messages from people who don’t know where to begin on reading outside of their comfort zone. I’ll admit, I still struggle with this too. I saw a tweet this week (I wish I could remember the source) suggesting that white people can start by reading books written by black authors for white readers, and then read books written by black authors for black readers. This tweet gave me pause. I went over my list of ‘read’ books and realized most of them were probably in that first category. And this realizations gave me a hunger to dig deeper and find books that would expand my understanding (and bonus, imagination) even further.
But again, I know some people are in the same boat I was in a decade ago, not even aware of what’s out there. So, I’ve gone through and pulled 15 books that I’ve probably already blogged about, as I’ve already read them, and then I examined my to-be-read list and pulled 40 titles by black authors.
I still have a ton of work to do on myself, and the next step I’m taking is to seek out more titles on racism and white privilege to add (and read) so that I can educate myself properly.
If you are looking for a way to support the Black Lives Matter movement right now, there are several articles out there with suggestions. Like this one for supporting protesters. Or this Harper’s BAZAAR article. Or blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#org.
But seeing as we’re here, discussing books, I urge you to take a look at this list of black-owned independent bookstores and make your purchases from their shops.
15 Books From My “Read” Stack
I haven’t written blurbs to go with these. I will do, as I’ve done in the past year, posts for each quarter highlighting favorite books read, or books I’m excited about. But for now, this is just a list. The links will take you to more information on the books themselves.
Speculative Fiction (Fantasy/Sci-Fi)
- A Blade So Black – L. L. McKinney YA Fantasy
- The Ballad of Black Tom – Victor LaValle Adult Fantasy Novella
- Binti : The Complete Trilogy – Nnedi Okorafor Adult Fantasy/Science Fiction
- Children of Blood & Bone – Tomi Adeyemi YA Fantasy
- Dawn – Octavia Butler Adult Science Fiction
- Dread Nation / Deathless Divide – Justina Ireland YA Fantasy
- When you finish the first, you’ll want the second
- Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett Adult Science Fiction
- The Fifth Season – N. K. Jemisin Adult Fantasy
- How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? – N. K. Jemisin Adult Fantasy Short Stories
- M.F.K. – Nilah Magruder Graphic Novel
- The Murders of Molly Southbourne – Tade Thompson Adult Speculative Fiction/Horror
- Becoming – Michelle Obama
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah
25 Books From My To-Read List
- By Any Means Necessary – Candice Montgomery
- From the Desk of Zoe Washington -Janae Marks
- I Wanna Be Where You Are – Kristina Forest
- Let Me Hear a Rhyme – Tiffany D. Jackson
- Slay – Brittney Morris
- The Summer of Everything – Julian Winters
- Washington Black – Esi Edugyan
Speculative Fiction (Sci-Fi/Fantasy)
- The City We Became – N. K. Jemisin
- Fledgling – Octavia Bulter
- The Forgotten Girl – India Hill Brown
- Ikenga – Nnedi Okorafor
- The Jumbies – Tracey Baptiste
- King and the Dragonflies -Kacen Callender
- Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron
- Legendborn – Tracy Deonn
- Maya & the Rising Dark – Rena Barron
- People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers – Victor LaValle (editor)
- Pet -Akwaeke Emezi
- Queen of the Conquered – Kacen Callender
- The Year of the Witching – Alexis Henderson
- Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights – Mikki Kendall (Author) A D’Amico (Illustrator)
- Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
- How to be an Antiracist – Ibram X Kendi
- Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture – Emma Dabiri
- Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender