Many people have been asking for book recommendations by black authors since the terrible deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others.
Before we get into the post I would like to highlight a site where you can support Black Lives Matter by signing petitions, donating or learning some more about the movement: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co.
Here are the 9 books that I would recommend:
1. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
This is a historical fiction and follows slave-born George Washington Black (Wash), who knows nothing about his past. He introduces himself to the reader at the age of 11 while working at “Faith”, a sugar plantation in Barbados.
Titch, the brother of the man who runs the plantation, takes Wash under his wing to help him create his “cloud-cutter”, a hot air balloon to travel the world in. At the start, Titch is seen as a source of hope for Wash to live a life he could never have fathomed.
The story is filled with a lot of emotion as Wash tries to deal with the guilt of his freedom and the fear and hate he will always face around the world because of the colour of his skin.
This is one of my all-time favourite novels.
Read my full review here.
2. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Queenie is an impressive debut novel that should be read by all. It’s funny and heart-wrenching at the same time.
The protagonist, Queenie, is devastated when Tom breaks her heart. She faces many toxic relationships and she’s fed up of her Jamaican British family not understanding her.
What I liked about this book is that it showed self-love is important. It was also great to see the narrator come to terms with her struggles and mental health issues too.
This is described as the new Bridget Jones but it is so much more than that. I highly recommend everyone reads it. Candice Carty-Williams talks about the Black Lives Matter movement and many other struggles black people face on a daily basis.
A short review can be read here.
3. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
This book has started to get a lot of hype recently because of the TV show and rightly so!
It is the first instalment in a young adult series focusing on the racial divide in the world. But there’s a difference. African people are the ones who have colonised the Europeans, thus making the Europeans their slaves.
Sephy has privilege because she is a Cross but Callum doesn’t because he is a Nought. Even though Sephy gets to experience everything that Callum could only dream of, she doesn’t like the injustices in the world.
They are friends but nothing romantically would ever be allowed so they decide to take a stand.
I fell in love with this series as a teenager but I still need to read the next instalment. It’s definitely an enlightening and gripping read.
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama
For this one I would 100 per cent recommend the audiobook. Michelle Obama narrates it so you get to hear her talk to you for 19 hours and three minutes. She even sings a small sentence too. Can you think of anything better?
In this autobiography she discusses the hardships of growing up as a black woman and her marriage to Barack and the struggles they faced in their marriage as his job got busier and busier.
His time in office, the worry she had as a mother about the pressures their children faced and so much more is discussed in this book. I loved hearing about her childhood and the strong bond she has with her brother. You’ll finish it wanting more.
5. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
This is non-fiction and a great place to start learning about white privilege and the racial injustices that is going on in the world.
Eddo-Lodge looks at how the system and structures of our societies have led black people to be worse off and get very little in comparison to white people.
The book shows a lot of brutal examples of racism in our history and in the present day. The author talks about the fact that black people shouldn’t have to educate white people all the time on their wrongdoings because they are the ones that created the injustices and racist structures everyone lives in.
This is a really good starting point for anyone wanting to try harder and help change these racial inequalities.
6. Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch
This is another non-fiction book that’s really thought provoking and a must read for those wanting to help and understand what our societies have become.
Hirsch looks at the history of racism and how it has evolved. There are lots of discussions about how non white people are seen, including how they can be followed around a shop because of their appearance.
She shows that even in Britain people don’t see the hurt or worry about something unless it is happening to them, even though there are a lot of prejudices and microaggresions existing.
This is a really important book that shows racism doesn’t only exist in America like many have tried to convince themselves into believing.
7. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
This is one of the most beautifully written books I have read. The verse-novel is a coming out story about Michael, a mixed raced gay teenager.
Each section of the book follows him from childhood, into secondary school and then to university. As readers we see how his friendships and romantic relationships evolve.
The author also gives an insight into Michael’s family life. As a young child it’s clear he didn’t come from money by the way he describes his presents and his mother reacting to him losing a coat he didn’t like. I really liked how she and his sister have always been a strong support system for Michael, even though his father was barely present in his upbringing.
I love that this book teaches the importance of believing in yourself, not caring what others think and being true to who you are. It’s the best book I have read this year.
This is perfect for fans of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.
8. Darling by Rachel Edwards
If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller then look no further than Darling. There are so many unexpected twists and turns you won’t be disappointed.
Xenophobia and racism are huge aspects of this book as it follows a family in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum in Britain.
Darling is a Black woman working as a nurse. After a quick marriage she moves in with her new husband Thomas, who is a white English man, and his daughter Lola. Lola doesn’t like Darling, one of the reasons for this is because of the colour of her skin, so there’s an instant divide.
Both women are the protagonists, with the chapters flipping from their different perspectives.
This book has a significant message for its readers but is a really fast and engrossing read. It touches on the fact that British societies brush the term racist away when the reality is right in their faces.
9. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Everyone by now has probably already read The Hate U Give but why are you waiting to read this one? It is really good.
The author tackles issues surrounding poverty, race and discrimination in this novel by giving an insight into the life of 16-year-old Bri.
The main character lives with her mother and older brother, Trey, who try their best on a daily basis to put food on the table. As Bri wants the best for her family, she wants to make money by doing what she knows best – rapping.
Angie Thomas gives an insight into how the rap industry can have a negative impact on an artist’s image in this novel. One of the main storylines focuses on how Bri’s lyrics get misinterpreted and how she deals with the consequences. One of the quotes that really stuck with me is, “There’s only so much you can take being described as somebody you’re not.”
Read my full review here.
If you have more recommendations for me please let me know. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram – @bookwormgirl_24