At the beginning of the summer, during quarantine, I made it my goal to read more books. I wanted to exercise my brain while I had a break from school among all the chaos that the pandemic brought. By joining my friend’s book club, I was able to make that happen as I read books by Black authors. I joined a book club called Affinity Book Club and it’s about educating, radicalizing, learning, and unlearning together. It is run by my good friend Selena Do and if you would like to join, please feel free to DM her on Instagram @thegolblinslayer.
In this article, I will share some books that I’ve read that I highly recommend everyone read to open your mind to the vast world of Black literature. The list will range from fictional light reads to in-depth anti-racism texts, both of which are critical in evolving the way some may think about things regarding the world we live in. I will also include a list of books that have been recommended to me that I haven’t had a chance to read yet just to give y’all some more options.
Books I’ve Read
- “Kindred” By: Octavia Butler
I read Kindred while I was in high school, but I feel like this book is so well written that it needed to be on this list. If you love history mixed with sci-fi, then you’ll love this book. The main character has to navigate life without knowing the principles of time travel. She balances two lives, one in the 70s in Los Angeles and another in the pre-civil war era in the South. This book takes you on a journey as you figure out why the main character time travels in the first place and what her purpose is.
- “Things Fall Apart: By: Chinua Achebe
I also read “Things Fall Apart” in high school and I think that’s one of the most memorable books that made me excited to keep reading more books by Black authors. This is a great piece of literature that makes you think about traditional views in relation to change. It provides a meaningful discourse about life and death and whether or not one is fulfilling their purpose in life. Overall, I think more people should read “Things Fall Apart” because this is a great book.
- “Are Prisons Obsolete?” By: Dr. Angela Davis
“Are Prisons Obsolete?” was the first book I read this summer for leisure. It’s a great text to get you thinking and talking about the current justice system we live in. It is made even more apparent that the system is functioning exactly the way it was intended to and that it needs to be dismantled. Dr. Davis dives into how our current justice system is an extension of slavery as it continues to oppress communities that are already disadvantaged. She takes us through a journey of thinking through the system and institutions embedded into it such as the prison industrial complex, how money functions, and what could be put in place of this violent system.
- “The Vanishing Half” By: Britt Bennett
I absolutely loved reading “The Vanishing Half”! It wove together various themes to create one seamless storyline. This is a story of the Vignes twins: one is a lighter complexion and the other is of a darker complexion. They decide to leave their hometown and create a life for themselves in the big city of New Orleans. After a while, they separate but eventually, their daughters find each other in a coincidental way. This novel walks through discourses about colorism, discrimination, and explores the very different lives of twins who are now grown and living their own lives apart.
Books That Have Been Recommended to Me
- “Assata Shakur: An Autobiography” By: Assata Shakur
I started reading this book over the summer and I loved reading about the experiences Shakur went through that helped her become the amazing social justice warrior that we know today. I’ve heard amazing things about this book and I can’t wait to continue reading.
- “The Opposite of Always” By: Justin Reynolds
I also started this book recently and I love the storyline so far. After reading the summary on Google, I am reminded of the movie “See You Yesterday” on Netflix. If you like time travel mixed with romance then this is the book for you!
- “Song of Solomon” By: Toni Morrison
I found this book from a recommendation list on Instagram. After reading more about it, it seems like an intriguing book that more people should get into as it is all about discovering your true identity and finding a connection with your ancestors. This fictional read is perfect for when you get a little extra time to read for personal leisure.
- “Hood Feminism” By: Mikki Kendall
I was also recommended this book through Instagram and I instantly added this to my personal book recommendations list. After reading more about this book, my excitement to start this book; after I have time to read it of course, has greatly increased. I think this is a great book if you want to learn more about what feminism looks like for Black women and women of color.
I hope these book recommendations inspire you to read more books written by Black authors. Taking time for yourself and reading because you want to; and not because you have to, is very important for your well-being. I also think a good book can make a great gift for holidays and birthdays! Until next time.
Peace fam, come back when more sauce is spilled!
Kiyahna Brown is the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor and creator of The Sauce: a new Black column within The Triton. You can follow her on Instagram @Kitkat12600