We don't know about you, but after a few months of quarantine and reading through our books at home, we’re looking for some new book recommendations!
We want to make recommending our favorite reads a regular occurrence on our blog, and we decided to start with a list of books written by fabulous Black female authors for all of us to explore.
If you choose to order physical copies, we suggest checking out a few of the Black-owned bookstores we listed in this post! Now let's get reading!
We're starting the list with the winner of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book has been around for several years and continues to be a highly loved and recommended piece of fictional literature with its exploration into the life of a young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who moves to the US.
The description: "Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be Black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland."
Red at the Bone
Our second title, Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson is the story of two families whose lives become interlinked. The fictional novel follows multiple characters back and forward in time to weave a story filled with heart, depth, hurt, and compassion.
The description: “As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own ceremony-- a celebration that ultimately never took place. Unfurling the history of Melody's parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they've paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history”
The Fifth Season
Another addition to this list is the science fantasy novel The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row, for each of the books in the trilogy! This first novel of the series follows narratives of three women living on a post-apocalyptic planet where frequent seismic activity leads to near-extinction events called “Fifth Seasons”.
The description: "This is the way the world ends. Again. Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.”
The Confessions of Frannie Langton
Published in May of 2019, The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins has been quick to rise to the top of reading lists around the world. The gothic novel examines race, class, and oppression following the story of a servant and former slave accused of a murder she can't remember.
The description: "A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London--a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests."
Girl, Woman, Other
Another recently published fictional work of art is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, following the interconnected stories of 12 women, the majority of whom are Black British women over several decades. This ambitious book illustrates Britain's past, present, and future.
The description: "Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, Black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends, and lovers, across the country and through the years."
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper is an essay collection that dives into personal and political topics centering on the perspective of a Black feminist, and where an eloquent rage is necessary and a powerful force for change.
The description: "Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams such a powerful tennis player. It’s what makes Beyoncé’s girl power anthems resonate so hard. It’s what makes Michelle Obama an icon.”
Kindred is a novel by Octavia E. Butler is one of the first pieces of science fiction written by a Black woman. The story follows Dana, an African-American woman, as she inexplicably travels back and forth in time, meeting her ancestors and becoming responsible for her own fate.
The description: “This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given…”
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth is a memoir that follows the former Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief through her self-discovery in her personal and professional life as a Black woman who sits on many intersections. Empowering and motivating, this book follows her journey while revealing gems of knowledge along the way.
The description: “Welteroth moves beyond the headlines and highlight reels to share the profound lessons and struggles of being a barrier-breaker across so many intersections. As a young boss and often the only Black woman in the room, she’s had enough of the world telling her—and all women—they’re not enough. As she learns to rely on herself by looking both inward and upward, we’re ultimately reminded that we’re more than enough.”