Reading Recs

30+ Books by Black Authors to Check Out

This was a list too long to post on social media, so here you go! I mainly read SFF and romance, so gaps in genres reflect that. I’ve mentioned a bunch of these before, but I’m adding mini book reviews so they’re all in one place. I’m absolutely confident there’s something in here that you’ll love!

Adult SFF

  • The Broken Earth Series by N. K. Jemisin (F) – This series deserves all the awards it received. It takes place on a geologically unstable world where people have fractured into stratified societies where magic users are are treated like tools instead of people. I had a hard time getting through it, but it’s also a master class on craft. Just… damn. The first book features two points of view that interweave – I won’t spoil how. If you’re a writer, you shouldn’t miss it. All her books are great! So don’t stop there.
  • Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (SF) – African futurism. Set in post-apocalyptic Sudan, its a revenge story featuring a rape survivor. It is heavy, angry, and if you’re looking for something lighter, I recommend the Binti novellas where a genius Himba girl goes to space and befriends squid-like aliens.
  • The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden (SF) – Near future South Africa plus gods, magic, and technology. It’s full of chaotic energy, action, and awesome. I think it would make an incredible movie. I really need to catch up on her newer books!
  • Trail of Lightning Series by Rebecca Roanhorse (F) – Supernatural x Navajo mythology. It’s a gritty future world, featuring a tough as nails monster hunter with no fucks left to give and a gorgeous healer with secrets.
  • Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (F) by Kai Ashante Wilson – This is one that I think needs to be read aloud or listened to on audiobook. It’s dark and brutal story about mercenaries escorting a caravan through a monstrous jungle to a famous city.
  • MEM by Britanny C Morrow – This one defies categories. It’s a novelette set in an alternate 1920’s where people make clones of themselves to store painful memories. It’s unsettling, strange, and leaves you thinking about what it means to be human.
  • Witchmark by C.L. Polk – A queer Edwardian murder mystery, set in an alternative world where magic exists but is outlawed.
  • The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (SF) – It feels like she predicted the social unrest in the world we’re living in. All of her books are worth checking out.

YA SFF

  • River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (First in a F series) – Two sisters must battle each other for the throne, but Eva has a dark magic that hasn’t manifested. Eva goes up against unfavorable odds and love for a sister she’s supposed to kill. There are different kinds of magical creatures, monsters, and peoples in this book.
  • Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron (First in a F series) – West African inspired fantasy where a girl is born without magic in a world where everyone else has it, and a demon king has returned. This one gets dark, and I’m not sure if the MC is a hero or an anti-hero – which is a cool dynamic.
  • Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (SF) – This book is an ode to music and books. In a world where the arts are banned a rebel librarian and a music loving alien go on a road trip and end up saving the world.
  • A Blade So Black (3 books F) – Alice in Wonderland x Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thick with romantic tension, trouble with strict parents, living a double life, and MONSTERS. Lots and lots of monsters and unfortunately ruined clothes.
  • The Belles (2 books F – though I’ve heard rumors of book 3?!) by Dhionelle Clayton – A world where beauty is currency and some girls are born with the magic to cosmetically alter people. It’s fantastically pretty and sinister at the same time. One of the most original series I’ve ever read.
  • Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (2 books) – These books are so richly detailed, and OMG they made me hungry. Original world building and characters you root for. I’m really looking forward to reading War Girls and Riot Baby.
  • Dread Nation (2 books) – ZOMBIES + girls kicking butt during the civil war. FUN but also history.
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – Currently being made into a movie. It’s an African inspired heroes quest for a magic artifact. Also, falling in love with the enemy.

YA Contemporary

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – It’s a movie and on the best seller’s list forever for a reason. It’s a story of police brutality, yet ends with a hopeful note. Powerful. You should check out On the Come Up too.
  • The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon – A romance that takes place in the span of one day, with a black immigrant MC about to be deported and a Korean-American love interest. It’s got music, sweetness, and the end punched me in the gut.
  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi – A retelling of Pride and Prejudice about families on a block in Brooklyn. I’ve mentioned it here before, but it’s one of my faves.
  • Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann – A romance featuring an asexual protagonist. The first ace romance I’ve read, and I could relate to a lot of it. Happy ending, of course!
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – It’s a book of narrative poetry, that tells the story of a girl finding her voice and going for her passion. One of the most original books I’ve ever read.

Middle Grade

  • The Tristan Strong books by Kwame Alexander (F) – These are packed with SO much attitude and humor, I snorted in laughter so many times. A fun, fast paced set of books infused with American folk tales.
  • The Jumbies books by Tracey Baptiste (F) – A series of creepy things happen when a stranger comes to Corinne’s town. It’s a story steeped in Carribean folklore, magic, and the kind of monsters that snatch kids in the dark.

Adult Contemporary

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – It’s not just a book about history, but a masterclass in narrative craft. It left me wrecked, and thinking for a long time about the legacies of slavery.

Thriller/Mystery

Hollywood Homicide Series by Kellye Garrett – A former actress turns detective. It’s funny, fashionable, and very LA.

Non-Fiction

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – Her essays are smart and poignant. Many of these were published online previously, but it’s nice to see them in one collection.

Romance

These authors are PROLIFIC. I can’t even rec individual books, just everything by them, because they’re that good.

  • Alyssa Cole – Her princess books are nerdy fun, and her historical fiction handles the complexities of the past with a deft hand. Read it all!
  • Alexa Martin – I’m not a fan of sports, but her books are so much fun and I have a new appreciation for both athletes and their partners.
  • Kennedy Ryan – I picked up Queen Move on sale, and now I’m going through the back list on one click order. If you like messy, complicated drama in relationships, and soulmates, you’ll like these.
  • Jasmine Guillory – Funny and sweet. Good if you want something lighthearted to make you smile.
  • Rebekah Weatherspoon– Very explicit, but also character focused, and full of sweetness and heart. I’m a particular fan of the FIT books, and the Loose Ends books.
  • Melissa Blue – You want sexy Scottsmen? Melissa’s got a series of them. Also explicit.
  • Beverly Jenkins – The QUEEN. She’s written 60+ books? I haven’t had time to count the actual number, and she’s still going!

Of course, I hope you either continue to, or begin to, read books by Black authors all the time, and not just now. My personal goal is to add more non-fiction to my reading list this year.

What are your favorites or what are you looking forward to reading next?

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News, Reading Recs

Because Twitter moves fast, here’s a permanent link of recommendations.

Note: These links are mainly book and writing focused, because that is the community this blog connects to.

The Basics

Non-Fiction Reading:

  • “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeomo Oluo
  • “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
  • “Hood Feminism: Notes From The Women That The Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall
  • “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Reading For Kids:

Support Black Writers and Bookshops:

For Writers:

More:

If you have any other links you think I should add, please let me know in the comments or through the contact form. I will keep this list updated.

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