11 Books by Black Authors You Do Not Want to Miss This Year
by April Watkins on Aug 23, 2020
It’s August, and that means it’s black-owned business month! To celebrate, here’s a list of new books by black authors that you need to put on your ‘to be read’ lists and checkout, pronto. And honestly? All of these titles are absolute gems, so you’re probably going to want something to protect these precious reads.
So for that perfect book and cover combo, look no further! If any of these titles pique your interest then we’re linking to black-owned bookstores, so show your support! #SupportIsAVerb
1. ‘Such a Fun Age’ by Kiley Reid - Kicking our list off with this one because of the buzz that surrounded it upon release (even though it was the end of December 2019), ‘Such a Fun Age’ is already being optioned for a screen adaptation by Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions and Sight Unseen Pictures.
“A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.”
2. ‘This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work’ by Tiffany Jewell, - This was released back in January of this year. How long ago does that now feel? The kind of book that just continues to gain prevalence.
“Who are you? What is racism? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? What can you do to disrupt it? Learn about social identities, the history of racism and resistance against it, and how you can use your anti-racist lens and voice to move the world toward equity and liberation.”
3. ‘Riot Baby’ by Tochi Onyebuchi - Another January 2020 release that can only stand to gain more traction and interest. Reader reviews describe the raw emotion and intimate power the writing evokes, coupled with a science fiction/supernatural element, what isn’t there to revere about this one?
"Riot Baby, Onyebuchi's first novel for adults, is as much the story of Ella and her brother, Kevin, as it is the story of black pain in America, of the extent and lineage of police brutality, racism and injustice in this country, written in prose as searing and precise as hot diamonds."―The New York Times
4. ‘Black Girl Unlimited’ by Echo Brown - This book is magical surrealism at its finest. As much autobiographical as it is fiction, this is a literary standout for sure. The cover is S T U N N I N G so you will definitely want to keep it safe in one of our book protectors! ;)
“Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism―all through the arc of a transcendent coming-of-age story for fans of Renee Watson's Piecing Me Together and Ibi Zoboi's American Street.”
5. ‘Hood Feminism’ by Mikki Kendall - Such an important voice to hear. Feminism is only truly feminism when women are supporting all women, regardless of race, or religion, or class.
“In her searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux.”
6. ‘Felix Ever After’ by Kacen Callender - Arguably the Young Adult novel of the year. This book will hit you right in the feels. Readers describe feeling lost and then found within the pages of ‘Felix Ever After’ (and another beautiful cover! You know what you have to do…)
“From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.”
7. ‘You Should See Me in a Crown’ by Leah Johnson - Actually, this might be the YA novel of the year. Tipped to be Jenny Han meets Becky Albertelli there’s no way this rom-com can flop. Beautifully queer, beautifully black and incredibly heartwarming.
“Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.”
8. ‘Grown’ by Tiffany D. Jackson - SEPTEMBER 15th - A stunning and brave piece of storytelling that is evocative of the #MeToo movement and put the vulnerability of young black women to the forefront. A hard-hitter with a cover so gorgeous it could make you weep…
“Award-winning author Tiffany D. Jackson delivers another riveting, ripped-from-the-headlines mystery that exposes horrific secrets hiding behind the limelight and embraces the power of a young woman’s voice.”
9. ‘The Black Kids’ by Christina Hammonds Reed - Firstly, this one is set in the 90s so it already gets a thumbs up for the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ vibes. But thematically, ‘The Black Kids’ is particularly poignant as the reader can juxtapose the 1992 Rodney King riots with the current Black Lives Matter protests.
“Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.”
10. ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ by George M. Johnson - A powerful collection of personal essays, this book has already been optioned for television.
“Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy.”
11. ‘Not So Pure and Simple’ by Lamar Giles - This had to make it on the list because of its rave reviews shouting about how funny it is! Funny while also tackling some big themes and issues? It has to be a page-turner.
"With true-to-life characters and a straightforward handling of sex, including often ignored aspects of male sexuality, Giles’s thoughtful, hilarious read offers a timely viewpoint on religion, toxic masculinity, and teen sexuality." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")
What will it be? Which book is at the top of your wishlist? Don’t forget, you can color-match these gems with a carry case to protect these precious pages too (because that’s what we do. We want to defend those darling books of yours from anything life throws at them).
This is just a small taste of the dozens of new books by black authors killing it out there in the bookstores this year. Plenty to keep you occupied as we head into Fall.
Be sure to support black-owned businesses this month and onward! And happy reading!