One of the most unique ways Black culture is conveyed is through books. Within the stories Black writers tell, you find our experiences, our ideas, our desires, fears and unmatched imagination. Whether it’s a fantasy adventure or factual memoir, our stories give the world a view into the realities they may not have seen before.
Below are five of my favorite books by Black authors that are definitely worth your time.
‘The Skin I’m In’ by Sharon G. Flake (Fiction)
This book follows Maleeka Madison, a girl who was always teased about how dark her skin was. As she enters the seventh grade, she gets tired of how much she’s teased and begins to develop a tougher attitude, something many people do in order to hide the pain they feel. But then a teacher enters her life, who has a skin disease, which puts Maleeka on the journey to loving the skin she’s in.
We hear a lot about colorism, skin bleaching and racism, and this book offers a firsthand account into the life of a girl who struggles with her dark skin. Even though it’s fiction, it’s based on a broader view of the millions of dark-skinned girls around the world who have this same struggle.
‘Mom & Me & Mom’ by Maya Angelou (Non-Fiction)
This will FOREVER be one of my favorite books because Maya Angelou is one of the best writers ever in life.
Just like in many of her other books, Maya Angelou recounts her journey as a Black woman who’s following her passions, dealing with the difficulties of life, trying new things and building relationships. This book, as you can probably tell by the title, focuses on her relationship with her mother.
Maya’s mom sent her and her brother to live with her grandmother when she was only three years old. A decade later, she’s reunited with her mother, which begins the decades-long journey of building their unique relationship. Maya recounts this relationship all the way till her mother’s last days, which was honestly pretty emotional.
This book is worth reading because, one, Maya Angelou wrote it, and two, it gives a deeper look into her most personal story, her struggles with abandonment, and a historical perspective on what it was like as she lived her life.
‘Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adayemi (Fiction)
I will forever toot this book’s horn. Children of Blood and Bone was the first Young Adult fantasy novel that I read with all Black protagonists. We previously wrote a review on this book, so I’ll be brief here.
The author has built such a complex and unique world based on facets of African culture. Although it’s a fantasy novel, many of the circumstances and societal issues in the book stem from the real world. It’s interesting to follow, and you fall in love with the characters, who are very different and have unique paths of their own.
‘Hughes: Poems’ Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series (Poetry)
I’m not an avid poetry reader, but I was always touched by Langston Hughes’ poems when I read them in college. His background and involvement with the Harlem Renaissance is fascinating to me, but I didn’t truly appreciate his work until I read a poem called ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers.’ To me, this poem goes through this history of Black people in just a few sentences. And when I first read it, it moved me for reasons I can’t entirely explain.
This book is a collection of Langston Hughes poems, which gives insight into the period in which he lived, his experiences, what life was like during that time for him, his family and Black people as a whole.
‘The Mothers’ by Brit Bennett (Fiction)
This is one of my all-time favorite novels because it deals with real topics, and addresses them through lyrical and poetic writing.
The story follows three characters, Nadia, Luke and Aubrey, whose lives are all tied together by a high school secret. Nadia and Luke had a little fling, which resulted in a pregnancy, then a cover-up. They kept this secret for a long time, but they didn’t know it would impact their community, and relationship with Aubrey, for years to come.
One of my favorite things about this book is the writing. Bennett is such an amazing writer, I can’t get over it. You won’t be able to put this book down once you pick it up.