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Books by and about African Americans

by Becky C | Feb 12, 2018
#ReadingBlackout is trending on social media this month -- join the conversation! To celebrate Black History Month, many readers are looking for books by and about African Americans.  You can always start with some classics, of course -- there's a reason we're still talking about  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, and Black Boy by Richard Wright.  But maybe you've read those and are looking for something new?  Here's a quick look at a few recent-ish books in our collection that reviewers have loved.

The MothersThe Mothers by Brit Bennett.  Nadia Turner is a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty.  Luke Sheppard is a twenty-one year-old former football star whose injury has left him waiting tables at a diner. The pregnancy that results from their brief romance--and the subsequent cover-up--will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including her best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are adults still living in debt to the choices they made that one summer.  All three are haunted by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently?

Ghost SummerGhost Summer
by Tananarive Due. 
In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghosts.  She shows us future scenarios that seem all too real and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Ghost Summer features an award-winning novella and fifteen stories.

PleasantvillePleasantville by Attica Locke.  If you're a fan of FOX's Empire, you're already familiar with the writing of Attica Locke.  She brings back her protagonist from Black Water Rising and plunges him into a shadowy world of ambitious enemies and treacherous allies armed with money, lies, and secrets.  This case will put him and his client, and an entire political process, on trial.

EverfairEverfair by Nisi Shawl.  Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn a human rights disaster into an exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. An inspiring story that will give readers new insight into an often ignored period of history.

Dear MartinDear Martin by Nic Stone.  Written as a mixture of dialogues, third-person narrative, and letters to Martin Luther King Jr., the novel explores an African American teen's confrontations with racism and his search for identity.  There's a lot of buzz about this recent debut.

The South Side

The South Side by Natalie Moore. Chicago native Natalie Moore shines a light on contemporary segregation in the city's South Side; her reported essays showcase the lives of these communities through the stories of her family and the people who reside there. The South Side highlights the impact of Chicago's historic segregation - and the ongoing policies that keep the system intact. 

If you like this list and would like some additional recommendations, send an email to us at -- we'd love to connect you with your next great read!  And please, share your must-read titles in the comments below.

Becky CBecky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her favorite books are The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman..
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