We all love to believe that we’re well-read and have a wall lined with notable literature that credit our intelligence and awareness. But the truth to being well-read is not how many classics lie on your bookshelf or how many bestsellers live on your reading list, but instead how diverse the stories and authors are that you consume. From fiction to nonfiction, thrillers, and memoirs, we’ve made a list of seven reads by Black authors that we find worthy of adding to the stack of books on your nightstand. No matter which genre you gravitate toward, you’re bound to find a book that will spark your interests.
7 Books by Black Authors to Add to Your Reading List
The best reads to shop this Black History Month
‘We Cast a Shadow’ by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Coined as “One of the Best Books of the Year” by Washington Post and NPR, We Cast a Shadow is a horror-com story by Maurice Carlos Ruffin about a father who goes to great and insane lengths to protect his son. In this futuristic novel, a procedure that involves de-ethnicizing Black patients, with hopes to give them a better life and fair chance, becomes the focus of a father who wants to see his son succeed just as much as his white peers. While this chilling story falls under fiction, the questions and narratives presented in the text are very much real issues Black people face in modern-day America.
‘Black Man in a White Coat’ by Damon Tweedy
A New York Times bestseller, a Time Magazine “Top 10 Nonfiction Book of the Year”, and a Library Journal “Best Book Selection”, Black Man in a White Coat is the memoir of Damon Tweedy, a Black doctor who becomes highly aware of the discrimination and disproportionate health-related issues in the medical field. Met with doubt, racism, and his own health scare, Dr. Tweedy reflects on his journey from medical student to practicing practitioner, in a white-dominated industry.
‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones
A New York Times Bestseller and 2018 Oprah’s Book Club selection, An American Marriage is a fiction novel that explores the downfall of a once very successful and fulfilling marriage. After one character is sentenced to serve jail time, the couple struggles with remaining in the deep love formed before the conviction. This book by Tayari Jones highlights the very real problems that can develop in a romantic relationship when unexpected turns occur. Among its accomplishments, the novel is also rated a “Notable Book” by The Washington Post, a winner of the 2019 Aspen Words Literary Prize, and winner of the 2019 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction.
‘Lead Me Not Into Temptation, I Can Find It On My Own’ by Robert Holt
The first novel by ex-Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Holt, tells the story of a troubled husband and father who is condemned to hell. The character struggles with his known fate and is granted a second chance to turn his life around with the possibility of entrance into heaven. This twisted and dark fiction story involves thrill and chaos, yet explores a very real narrative that many religious people struggle with: obeying the golden rules and living a sin-free life. If you’re looking for a story with an unexpected yet stimulating spin, this cozy thriller might be for you.
‘Hunger’ by Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist, returns to the book self with Hunger, a memoir about her relationship with food and self-image. Gay explores the troubles that led to her food addiction and the steps she took to overcome it and enter a place of self-love. No matter how you identify, this honest and vulnerable novel is super relevant during a time where body image is highly discussed and critiqued because of social media and the wellness movement is more popular than ever.
'No Ashes in the Fire' by Darnell L. Moore
In this memoir, by journalist and activist Darnell L. Moore, readers get an inside look at the bullying and homophobic discrimination that led Moore to become the leading advocate he is today. Recognized as Lambda Literary Award “Gay Memoir/Biography” winner in 2019 and a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year” in 2018, this real and exposed reflection defines what it means to be free.
‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’ by Charles M. Blow
Praised as a New York Times “Notable Book,” Lambda Literary award winner and PEN Open Book Award long-lister, Fire Shut Up in My Bones is the chilling and honest memoir of journalist Charles M. Blow. Growing up in a broken home and experiencing abuse at a young age, Blow reflects on his daunting past and the endurance it gave him to attain a different life. If you’re looking for a story that evokes emotion and depth, this memoir will make a great addition to your reading log.