7 Authors to Read for Black History Month

When I tackled my first Read Harder challenge a few years back, I realized my bookshelves and reading habits weren’t exactly what I’d call diverse. It wasn’t a choice I’d made, yet somehow the majority of authors I read were white Americans.

That reading challenge, and the ones to follow, pushed me out of the familiar and led me to discover works in translation, along with authors I never would have discovered otherwise.

I’ve read many more authors of color than the five mentioned here, but these are the ones who have stuck with me the most.

7 Authors to Read for Black History Month

1.Toni Morrison

I first read Morrison in college, so she’s not a recent discovery for me. However I will admit I haven’t read many of her novels simply because the subject matter can get pretty difficult for me. I know that’s exactly why I should read more of her.

Her novels are well known for containing epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters. Among her impressive list of honors and awards are the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for Beloved , and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

My recommendation: Songs of Solomon

2. Colson Whitehead

I’ve written about The Underground Railroad so many times you are probably sick of hearing about it (but seriously, if you haven’t read it yet, you need to.) Not only did Whitehead win the Pulitzer Prize for that novel, he won it for his next novel as well. He has authored eight novels so far and two works of non-fiction. His writing is rich and emotional.

My (Other) Recommendation:  The Nickel Boys

3. Octavia Butler

Butler is recognized as one of, if not the first, African-American women to write science fiction. She received multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, recognition in the genre, and was the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.

My recommendation: Kindred

4.  Roxane Gay

My first experience with Roxane’s writing was when I read Hunger at the urging of my bookish bestie who was staying awake until the wee hours of the morning to get through it. By the time I finished this memoir, I wanted to be BFFs with Roxane. I began following her on social media, read more of her writing, and have fallen even more in love with her since. Her writing is raw and unapologetic, whether it’s memoir or fiction. Somehow her voice is powerful and gentle at the same time.

My recommendation:  Hunger

5. Beverly Jenkins

Beverly is one of the first Black romance writers. She writes both historical and contemporary romance novels with a focus on 19th century African-American life. She received the 2017 Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the 2016 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for historical romance. She has also been nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature.

My recommendation: Vivid

6. Talia Hibbert

Talia is a British romance novelist, writing both contemporary and paranormal romance. Her novels often include diverse stories, with characters of varying race, ethnicity, body shape, sexual orientation, and life experience. Her novels are often very sexy and funny while managing to tackle heavy topics.

My recommendation: The Brown Sisters series

7. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I would not have discovered Adichie if it weren’t for the Read Harder Challenge.  Her 2009 TED talk The Danger of a Single Story has become one of the top ten most-viewed TED Talks of all time. I’ve never been an immigrant in a foreign country, yet her stories relay the experience to me in a way that makes me feel it in my own heart, not just imagine it.

My Recommendation: Americanah


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