Books by Black Authors

I am trying to actively read more books by Black authors as I think I learn much from hearing from different voices. I recommend buying books directly from Black bookstores, and not amazon which only gives the author a small fraction of the sale price. The first three books are Reese Witherspoon 2020 bookclub selections. I tend to read just about anything she picks as I find that even though the jacket of the book may not appeal to me, after I've read the book I see why it's such a great pick and am glad she broadened my horizon. 

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her Black babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix's efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged. The theme of the book is white saviors and white privilege. The book is a quick light read. 

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Austin Channing Brown is a Black woman with a white man's name and this is her memoir; born in the 1980s and growing up in a predominately white world. She talks about her childhood and church, her family, her experiences in college and the work world, and throughout all of this, embracing being Black. Also her experience walking into rooms/interviews when they expect a white man because of her name and how the expression on their face changes when she introduces herself.

Everything Inside 
by Edwidge Danticat
The book is set in Miami and is a collection of 8 short stories of Haiti-Americans. It's a beautiful book filled with powerful emotions. Loss and reconciliation is a common theme with these heartbreaking stories. I don't normally read short stories, but this really opened me up to another world of life experiences. This was a Reese Witherspoon bookclub pick.

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Based on the true story of a Black FBI agent in 1986 who is given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention. This was on President Obama's 2019 summer reading list. 

Homegoing by  Yaa 
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. The book is a horrific look at history, colonialism and slavery in Ghana and America, across 250 years. It gives imagines of life in Ghana at that time, and as we move forward through time, from one generation to the next, we see what slavery becomes in the US, and how it changes Ghana. It is a multi-generational saga that follows the descendants of the two half sisters.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority.  This is a valuable book that delves into Nigerian culture, religion, and politics. Chimamanda writes of abuse and violence through Kambili's father and the military regime, of the effects of colonialism and the erasure of traditional beliefs and systems and the conflicts that exist because of it. The story itself was very interesting and moving as it showed the lives of a very religious and rich family in Nigeria from the viewpoint of the young daughter, who seemed a lot younger than she actually was. During the course of the story we understand why that is and we also look behind the religious and good facade of the father. This book was a coming of age story that also included the historical and political context into the personal life of the family.

The Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon 
Published in April 2020, Andre has spent his 50 year career working in the fashion magazine industry. His last position was editor-at-large for Vogue. He played himself on an episode of Sex and the City. Now he has a radio show on Sirius XM. He also has a documentary on Hulu called The Gospel According to AndrĂ©. He has worked with all the top high end fashion lines and dressed the likes of Michelle Obama. The book talks about his relationship with Anna Wintor who staged a intervention for him to lose weight. He is aware of the lack of diversity in the fashion industry and is not afraid to speak about it.

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Starr may only be sixteen, but she has already witnessed two murders in her life: the first of a young black girl in a drive-by shooting and the second of a young black boy shot multiple times by a cop. This was such a heartbreaking honest account of what is happening in America right now. You're reading someone's decision against silence. The book was made into a movie in 2018 starring Issa Rae, Regina Hall, and Common.

I also want to add Little Fires Everywhere to this list which I reviewed in this post.

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