Tag Archives: black authors

8 Black Authors to Read This Month

February is Black History Month, and in recent years, I’ve been trying to intentionally share some Black authors that I have enjoyed. Last year, I mentioned a lot of these authors throughout the year, but here is a consolidated list for those looking for new authors to try this month.

Jemar Tisby – The Color of Compromise

The reason I loved this book so much was the way Tisby intertwined Black history in America with the American Christian Church. It was heartbreaking and frustrating at times, but fascinating to see fear seep into the pews of any denomination causing a more fertile ground for racism. It really helped me understand today’s issues with more context. (He also has another book that just came out in January that furthers this conversation, though I haven’t read it yet).

Ibram X. Kendi – How to Be An Antiracist

The journey that Kendi goes through in this book is both vulnerable and courageous. It teaches just how insidious and involved racism can be. It also is an encouraging reminder to give ourselves grace while still being vigilant within our own lives in seeking out the systemic and inherent racism that affects us all.

Tomi Adeyemi – Children of Blood and Bone

This YA book and her follow up book Children of Virtue and Vengeance are absolutely beautiful. Influenced by African mythology, the book follows Zelie as she tries to bring back the magic that was torn from her land, while Tzain, the son of the king, is bent on stopping her at any cost. This is an enemies to lovers story that doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending yet. I have heard that this series is being turned into a movie by Disney . The second book also indicates a third book should be coming out as well.

Angie Thomas – The Hate You Give

A contemporary YA that follows the aftermath of a shooting. Starr lives in two worlds, the private, predominantly white, school and her mostly black neighborhood. After she witnesses her best friend get shot by police, the tension of her two worlds come to a breaking point and she has hard decisions to make. This was also made into a movie in 2018.

Bernadine Ernesto – Blonde Roots

This book answers the question, what if it were black people who enslaved white people? It highlights all the ways that black people have been dehumanized both in small microaggressions like changing their name or defining beauty to bigger things like tearing them from their homes and raping them. It is eye-opening in such a unique way.

Octavia Butler – The Parable of the Sower

I read this book at the beginning of 2020, so it was more of a horror book for me than a simple science fiction. The world is collapsing, and Lauren Oya Olamina loses what little security she has when her gated neighborhood is attacked, forcing her to leave in search of a new home, if there is even a possibility for one. It is a heart-breaking look at how selfish a society can be, but also shows a glimmer of hope in how community can make all the difference.

Austin Channing Brown – I’m Still Here

I read this book in 2019. Brown’s memoir of growing up and living in America is beautiful, strong, honest, heartbreaking and encouraging. She talks about issues of race, racism, white supremacy, white fragility, and white guilt, as well as the beauty and power of Black women and Blackness as a whole. I was uncomfortable reading this book as a white woman because it felt like I was listening in on a conversation not meant for me, but one I really needed to hear.

Jacqueline Woodson – If You Come Softly

This is a timely, well-written novel. The story is about a white Jewish girl and a black boy who go to the same private school and fall in love. It’s about racial stereotypes, interracial couple stereotypes, family relationships, and how we become who we are. It was originally published in 1998 but manages to stay current. Beautiful, beautiful book.

What are some of your favorite books or series by Black authors? Are there any books you are looking forward to reading this month?

The Color of Compromise : A Review

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t always like history. All those dates and lists that I had to memorize. But as I get older, I find history fascinating. How the choices of a few, or the many, affected so much of how our world is today.

Going into this book, I knew the basics of the evolution of the church. From the Catholic church to Martin Luther to King Henry and the church of England. From the Pilgrims to the Restoration Movement. But I didn’t realize how much the church impacted so many social and government decisions throughout history.

This book reads similar to a history book, though with much more narrative. It includes both significant American events as well as the evolution of both white and black churches, racism, and slavery before the Civil War. It touches on that particular war, but continues to name the complicity of both the North and South in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Each chapter’s introduction includes a purpose for what it will try to explain in that chapter, and the chapter’s conclusion recalls that purpose and how it was met in the chapter. While this was a little repetitive, it served as an ebb and flow to the narrative. The book ends with a chapter challenging the church and culture to take action in a variety of ways.

The author doesn’t use profanity in the book. Sexual content includes descriptions of rape used in example situations and the sexualization of black people. Violent content includes lynchings and massacres as they happened throughout our history.

I really enjoyed this broad look at our nation’s and church’s history here in America. It was eye-opening to see the connections that were made. But I really liked the fact that the book ends with hope and actionable ideas to challenge the church, to encourage us to a better future for all.

An American Marriage: A Review

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a contemporary fiction that was pretty popular a couple of years ago.  I believe it was an Oprah book club pick.  It is set in the south, mostly between a town called Eloe in Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia.

The story starts with Roy being convicted of something he didn’t do.  While visiting his parents, he and his newlywedded wife, Celestial, are staying at a motel where an assault happens.  The victim pins the crime on Roy, and he is convicted, sentenced to 12 years in jail.  This conviction knocks Roy off the path he thought he was headed on – the good job, the house, starting a family. 

During this time, Celestial is now the wife of a convict.  She has to navigate the stigmas as well as find some path through the next 12 years.  Their relationship suffers, and she turns to a friend, Andre, to lean on, which develops into something more.

I really didn’t like Andre’s character.  I didn’t agree with a lot of the choices that were made in this book.  They made me feel uncomfortable.  Although, I also don’t know what it’s like to be falsely accused of a crime and have my whole life turned upside down.  And having to make my relationship choices through that lens.

But I don’t know if the relationships were really the focus, but more so being true to who you are.  Celestial, at the beginning, kind of just flows with whatever everyone wants her to be, and this story really follows her transformation.  Roy also transforms through the time he was in jail.  The story was very real and raw.

There is a lot of profanity.  Sexual content includes abortions, descriptions of naked bodies, talk of rape, implications of sex, with one detailed sex scene.  The violent content includes a fight scene, implications of suicides that happen in prison, as well as the assault/rape at the beginning of the book.

Overall, it’s about two people who faced an unjust justice system.  But it was also about people who were growing up, figuring it out, and letting go to find their settled good.  My favorite part of the story was Roy and his mother’s relationship, as well as the relationships of the older generation.  Interesting read.

Still Listening

Due to the climate in our country, I don’t feel like I can do what I normally do on the first Wednesday of the month and talk about what I read last month. I will move that blog post to next week. There are so many really great resources being shared right now that help describe and explain that Black experience in America, white supremacy, and systemic racism. One link that was passed around on Facebook and other social media sites was this list of various articles, books, and documentaries which is a great start.

Last year, I read two of the books that are being suggested (one of which is on the above list). I’ve already shared my thoughts on these books, so I will link those reviews here.

The first is I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown.

The second book I read last year was White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. I didn’t write a review for this book on my blog because I was taking a break at the time. I did, however, write a review on GoodReads which I will link here.

Both of these books are excellent. There are also some really good Black Fiction writers that I would recommend if nonfiction isn’t your genre. Tomi Adeyemi has written two books in her series, the first being Children of Blood and Bone which is based on African mythology. There is also The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and her second book (not a series but set in the same world), On The Come Up. And finally, If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, which I read with the Life’s Library book club. It’s not her most recent or most famous piece, but it is really good. Her backlist is definitely on my TBR list.

Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy a fresh perspective on the world. Diversity brings creativity and beauty to the written word. It can help us grow in empathy and understanding, prodding us on to action.