Life·6 min read

7 Black Book Influencers on Their Favorite Reads by Black Authors

BHM Reads
Design: theSkimm
Feb 10, 2022

In honor of Black History Month and our love for all things reading, we DM’d with some of our fave Black bookstagrammers — and asked about their favorite books by Black authors. From recent novels to engaging classics, we can’t wait to add these to our ‘TBR’ pile. Give ’em a follow and check out their picks below…

“Legendborn” by Tracy Deonn

Recommended by: Nnenna from @scsreads and Alecia of @coffee.books.convo

Nnenna of @scsreads 

“I read this book over a year ago and I'm still not over how much I loved it,” she says. “You have Bree, a young Black girl, who’s the main character of this fantasy story and a reflection of real Black girls. That is so powerful — particularly since I loved reading fantasy as a kid, but rarely encountered Black characters in those stories. This book contains multitudes: We get a King Arthur reimagining, a bit of campus life, a secret society, some romance, death, grief, mother/daughter relationships, a quest for the truth, and more. It's an emotional story full of action and heart, which made it so much fun to read and very entertaining.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

Alecia of @coffee.books.convo

“Literally, [this is] Black Girl Magic. It’s a book that I’ll forever hold dear to my heart,” she says. “YA fantasy is my favorite genre to read. However, growing up none of the heroines of the story ever looked like me until I picked up this novel. It makes me feel seen, makes me feel powerful, reminds me of history, and is truly filled with Black Girl Magic. Never would I have thought that a girl who looks like me would be on the cover of a book about magic, demons, and knights. It was just such an overwhelming feeling of...being seen.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Pursuit of the Truth” by K.D. Richards

Recommended by: Bree from @bree.unabashedly

“It’s a fast-paced novel that had me on the edge of my seat from the very first page,” she says. “One of the opening scenes has our heroine, Nadia, being pushed in front of a taxi cab on a busy Manhattan street. It was the first time I'd read a romantic suspense novel with a heroine who looked like me. Not only was it intense and so realistically creepy, but it also had such a good romance, which can be hard to balance. Richards masterfully balanced danger and romance. She's an author I think everyone should have on their radar.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson

Recommended by: Keyona from @chocolatecoveredpages

After their mother’s passing, two siblings are left with a black cake in the freezer and an audio cassette,” she says. “These two items tell a story their mother couldn’t tell them in person. The secrets and the betrayals will keep you turning the pages, but it’s the love of family and lesson of forgiveness that will stay with you once the book is over.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Black Girl, Call Home” by Jasmine Mans

Recommended by: Renée from @book_girl_magic 

This collection of poetry spoke to my soul,” she says. “It was a welcomed memory of what it was like to grow up as a Black girl. “[It] just feels like home — it was so warm and familiar. And it should be read and experienced by all.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” by Deesha Philyaw

Recommended by: Glory, founder of @wellreadblackgirl and podcast host of Well-Read Read Black Girl with Glory Edim. Psst: We chatted with Glory for our Skimm Her Life series, where smart women share their downtime recs with us. Check it out here.

“[This] debut collection follows generations of Black women navigating love, sex, family, along with their complicated views on faith,” she says. “Each story is incredibly moving, and Philyaw's precision with dialogue will enthrall you. Whether you practice a religion or not, readers will connect with the familiar feeling of learning how to embrace and, when needed, redefine the meaning of love. You will find a glimpse of yourself in every character.”(Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler

Recommended by: Renée from @book_girl_magic 

“I read this book for the first time in 2021 and it blew my mind,” she says. “My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner. ‘Kindred’ is set in 1976 and explores the life of Dana, a young Black woman. Throughout the book, she’s transported from current day to 1800s Maryland in the midst of slavery. It’s written well before its time and one that absolutely captivated me." (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Passing” by Nella Larsen

Recommended by: Nnenna from @scsreads

“This is such an accessible classic,” she says. “Larsen writes about race, identity, and the methods that people utilize to survive and/or get ahead in this world. The relationship between the two main characters, Irene and Clare, is utterly fascinating and there is so much tension in this book. I loved the writing and the drama of this story. The ending is one that will definitely stick with me.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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“Beloved” by Toni Morrison

Recommended by: Enobong from @enobooks

“This book is harrowing, honest, and a prime example of why Toni Morrison was and always will be a literary queen,” she says. “It’s a great example of Morrison building worlds through exquisite writing. It also gives voice to a point of view that is not often seen in literature — the enslaved person who not only would, but does choose death over enslavement.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop

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“The Women of Brewster Place” by Gloria Naylor

Recommended by: Glory, founder of @wellreadblackgirl and podcast host of Well-Read Read Black Girl with Glory Edim, and Keyona from @chocolatecoveredpages

Glory of @wellreadblackgirl

“[This is] one of my favorite books of all time,” she says. “The novel is full of vulnerability, resilience, and unrelenting sisterhood. Naylor pulls together the unique stories of seven women living in Brewster Place; each character is audacious and represents the fullness of Black womanhood. My favorite voice is the beloved Mattie Michael, who is like a mother to everyone in the novel. It’s a literary classic and truly unforgettable read." (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

Keyona of @chocolatecoveredpages

“This book is composed of seven interconnected stories with each one following a different woman living in this dilapidated apartment building,” she says. “There’s so much pain and despair in these pages, yet there are glimmers of hope and community. Most of the women that have come to Brewster Place are in search of something. They’ve all ‘ended up’ there because maybe they lost their previous homes, they are looking for independence, or this is the only place they can be themselves. Even though it was published in 1982, the themes are very much still relevant today.” (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)

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Psst: These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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