One of the ways we can help create lasting change is to elevate black authors. This list of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books was cultivated with the hope that through them, we can learn to make our world better.
Amid all of the injustice that has come to light in the last couple of weeks, there’s a thought that keeps rattling around in my mind. We haven’t just been missing the opportunity to create lasting change.
We’ve also been plain missing out.
Understanding the problem
Like many of you, I have been learning to accept complicity in our broken system. I took a look at this list, (one that I was once so proud of), which features over fifty personal development books that I’ve read and would recommend to my readers. Not a single black writer is represented. I can assure you that this wasn’t done maliciously, or with intent to exclude people of color.
Until last week, I didn’t even notice that my list was void of diversity. And that is the problem.
After a head smack, I felt a wave of embarrassment. And then I felt sad. Selfishly, I felt sad for myself. Because in neglecting to read and listen to black voices, I’ve been missing out.
Creating from a limited perspective
As creative people, we should be taking in as much of our world as we can. This means learning, listening, and seeing from different perspectives. So much of art is about making people feel understood, and that is an impossibility if we limit ourselves to what we already know.
Learning to listen
To create massive and lasting change, we need to take ongoing action. And reading is a really easy and wonderful way to be a part of this movement. Not only do we have an opportunity to support the black writing community by purchasing their books, but in listening to their words. Why not go right to the source?
Books to support black creatives
Below you’ll find a list of the books, written by black authors, that I purchased and downloaded from Audible last week. I also set aside a list of children’s books that I plan on purchasing for my nieces and nephews.
Fiction Books, written by black authors
Most of these came as recommendations in this fantastic episode from the Bad on Paper podcast. Bonus: when you’re shopping on bookshop.org, you also have the opportunity to support a black-owned book shop. I shopped using this link, to support The Lit Bar.
The Proposal, by Jasmine Guillory
The Idea of you, by Robinne Lee
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson
You Should See my in a Crown, by Leah Johnson
Non-Fiction Books, written by black authors
I prefer to listen to books when they are read by the author. Talk about enriching your experience! Here is what I added to my Audible library.
The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae
The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish
As I finish listening to these, I’ll add them to my master list of Personal Improvement Books.
Little Leaders, by Vashti Harrison
Bonus Reads, written by black authors
If you’re looking to add even more richness to your bookshelf, the following came recommended by friends and people in my creative community:
Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, by Colin Powell | recommended by @ellieparvin
Anything by Jasmine Guillory | recommended by @betweenthepages4
Anything by Toni Morrison | recommended by @thinkingcloset
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum | recommended by @thinkingcloset
The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson | recommended by @rjavitchcanfield
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas | recommended by @rjavitchcanfield
A Piece of Cake, by Cupcake Brown | recommended by @merrimentgraphics
Anything by Les Brown | recommended by @clementine_creative
Do you have favorite books or recommendations written by people of color? Leave them in the comments.
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Thank you for compiling this incredible list (and for including my recommendations, too!). Looking forward to diving in to some excellent new reads and increasing the diversity of the authors I read and learn from. Thank you for using your platform to magnify the voices of the black community!
I’m currently reading Tony Evans’ Names of God. As a woman of faith, it is critical to better understand God and to trust Him in the midst of all this chaos. I read Hidden Figures a few years ago, and highly recommend it. The movie was good, but the book has more details. I’m always fascinated & encouraged to read about those who have confronted and succeeded despite the disparities in our systems.
Thanks so much for those recommendations, Debie. I saw Hidden Figures last year and absolutely loved it. I’ll need to check out the book!