15 Books By Black Authors You Won't Be Able To Put Down

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PHOTO: @THEEGGISYOU AND @BECAJHALL / INSTAGRAM

Note: Vocally might make a little money if you buy anything on this list. All items were in stock at the time of publication. Happy shopping!

I love exploring the collective black experience through literature, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite reads that are especially relevant in our current socio-political climate. 

From sci-fi classics such as Lilith's Brood  to modern poetry collections like From the Dust We Rose, these 15 titles written by black authors shed light on the reality in which black folks live.

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston

I fell in love with this book as a kid. It was one of the first books whose characters spoke in a way that I knew and heard from people within my own community. Hurston's gift of storytelling encompasses the pain and beauty of how deeply a black woman loves within the racial tensions of the Jim Crow South in the 1930s. 

Buy it here.

"The Heart of a Woman" by Maya Angelou

"The Heart of a Woman" by Maya Angelou

In this inspirational autobiography, Angelou works her way through a chapter in her life that involves getting married, traveling to Egypt, and getting involved in the civil rights movement — all while raising her son. "The Heart of a Woman" holds a special place in my heart, as I first read it at a point in my life where I was embracing motherhood of a black son. 

Buy it here.

"Ruby" by Cynthia Bond

"Ruby" by Cynthia Bond

"Ruby" chronicles the life of its (fictional) titular character, a black sex worker and sexual abuse survivor living in the early 1900s who's tormented by the demons of her past and finds love in an unlikely form. Bond amazed me with her artistic prose and graceful capture of the nuanced relationship black female survivors have with the rest of their community. 

Buy it here.

"Lilith's Brood" by Octavia Butler

"Lilith's Brood" by Octavia Butler

Butler, an ace at the afrofuturistic genre, artfully tackles themes like race, gender, and sexuality in this collection of three stories about the titular character's life in a post-apocalyptic world alongside an alien race.

Buy it here.

"Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds" by Adrienne Maree Brown
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"Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds" by Adrienne Maree Brown

Inspired by Butler's work, Brown — one of my favorite people and authors — fills the pages of this self-help book with musings about her desire for an Earth being cared for by humans. 

Buy it here.

"From The Dust We Rose" by Ociele Hawkins

"From The Dust We Rose" by Ociele Hawkins

Hawkins' self-published collection of poetry about coming to grips with race relations as a black millennial is, in a word, phenomenal. 

Buy it here.

"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine

"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine

"Citizen" is a collection of essays, poems, photography, and art addressing race in the new millennium that holds up a mirror to America's current socio-political climate. I was gifted this book two years ago and still refer back to it to this day. 

Buy it here.

"The Warmth Of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson

"The Warmth Of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson

Wilkerson pays homage to the thousands of black people and families who made their quiet escape from the racism of the Jim Crow South without shying away from harsh (and often graphic) truths.

Buy it here.

"Brother, I’m Dying" by Edwidge Danticat
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"Brother, I’m Dying" by Edwidge Danticat

In her somber autographical novel, Danticat gives the reader a glimpse into the life of a Haitian immigrant watching her home country suffer from afar as the result of both natural disaster and its own politics.

Buy it here.

"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie uses literature to address an oft-forgotten (but important) topic: the African diaspora. In "Americanah," she uses wit to detail a fictional story of love, race, and mental health.

Buy it here.

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