Happy Black History Month! To celebrate this important month, I compiled a list of potential books to read both for education and enjoyment! This is nowhere close to an exhaustive list, so please check out these additional lists of potential books to read to support Black authors now and during the rest of the year.
Let’s get started!
one | Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone takes place in a fictional land that used to be ripe with magic but was purged of it when the king became scared of the power the Magi held. Zélie must go on a dangerous quest with her brother and the princess of Orïsha to restore magic to the land. It sounds pretty run of the mill fantasy, but I promise it’s anything but ordinary.
two | Beloved by Toni Morrison
Sethe may have escaped Sweet Home with her daughter, but can she ever escape her past? After 18 years of living in a free state, Sethe is still haunted by the memories of the plantation she grew up on. One day, a mysterious girl appears who claims to be called “Beloved.” With the sudden appearance of this girl, Sethe’s secrets begin to unfurl. Beloved tells the tale of what it was truly like to escape to a free state and how your past can always follow you.
three | The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
The Nickel Boys is based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children. It features Elwood Curtis, a boy who was abandoned by his parents but raised well by his grandmother. Elwood makes one mistake, and he’s sentenced to the Nickel Academy, a juvenile reformatory school whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.” The school turns out to be a vicious environment that pushes Elwood to the brink of his good nature. Elwood makes a friend, Turner, but the two have very different ideas about how to make it out of Nickel alive.
four | The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she grew up and the rich prep school she attends during the week. Her life is forever changed on the night she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil’s death sparks protests and national headlines. Everyone wants to know the truth of what happened that night, and Starr is the only one who can tell it. But what she does or doesn’t say could put her life in danger.
five | My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Korede is called in time and time again to save her sister from herself. Korede’s sister keeps killing her boyfriends. Korede struggles with turning her sister in to the Nigerian police, but ultimately, she decides family is more important than anything else. That is, until Korede’s sister starts dating the doctor Korede has been madly in love with for some time. Korede must choose between saving the man she loves from the inevitable or protecting her sister.
one | Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F Saad
This book was born from a viral Instagram challenge where Saad encouraged people to open up and share their own racist behaviors. Saad took that challenge and made it into a 28-day journey focused on helping readers dismantle their own privilege. Awareness leads to action, and action leads to change.
two | Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson chronicles his years as a young lawyer working to get children and innocent victims off of death row in his moving book, “Just Mercy.” He tells impactful stories of the corruption in the justice system, the clients he has helped find a better life, and what we can do to help fix the system. One of his first cases was Walter McMillian’s, a young man sentenced to die for a crime he insisted he did not commit. This singular case transformed Stevenson’s understanding of justice forever.
three | Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo
Picking Cotton is the story of an unlikely friendship that formed between a falsely accused rapist and his accuser. Jennifer was raped in 1984 in Burlington, North Carolina. After escaping with her life, she was able to (wrongly) identify her rapist as Ronald Cotton. After serving 10 years in prison, DNA testing technology was developed, and Cotton was able to prove his innocence. Two years later, the pair formed the strangest friendship and still work together today to spread information about wrongful convictions.
four | Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Rhimes chronicled her “year” of saying yes to things. What started as a challenge to accept more appearance opportunities, turned into saying yes to saying no, saying yes to healthier choices, and ultimately, saying yes to happiness no matter what form it comes in.
five | Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime is about a boy growing into a man finding his way in a world he wasn’t ever supposed to be a part of. Noah is the product of his Swiss father and Xhosa mother during a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Noah spent much of his childhood hidden away indoors, but once South Africa was liberated from tyrannical rule, Noah and his mother set out on many an adventure. Noah’s life was anything by ordinary, and it’s an amazing life to hear about.
Books I Plan to Read this Month
Here are two books from Black authors I plan to read this month to celebrate along with you.
one | How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist, promises to weave together ethics, history, law, and science to share a story about how to make this world more just and equitable. Kendi shares his own personal awakening to antiracism while reshaping the conversation around justice in America.
two | Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Queenie Jenkins is living in London searching for herself after a particularly messy breakup that leaves her dating the wrong guys for quite some time. Queenie finds herself wondering what she is doing, why she is doing it, and asking herself who she wants to be. This coming-of-age story isn’t just about Queenie being torn between her roots and her surroundings, but also about what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.