Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.
Today’s post is by Tanya Pickles, Lane Clarke and Olivia Savannah Roach. These amazing people will be talking about their favourite books by black authors.
Please note that Olivia’s part of this post will be a video on her Booktube channel. A link to access the video will be included in this blog post.
If you have been following me for a while, this list you are about to see should come as no surprise. I talk about these books, every time the word favorite is mentioned as well as the phrase Black Authors. These books hold a special place in my heart because of the following:
- Pulled at the romantic inside me
- Pull every other emotional heartstring I still have left
- Had detailed backstory without dragging
- Provided the fantasy kick without falling into cliché
- Catered to my love of mythology and history
- Made me think/feel inspired
- The pace was not drawn out
- The author kept me invested and interested
I cannot stress how much I love these books.
1. The Real Mrs. Price by J.D. Mason
2. Snowflake by Nia Forrester
3. The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
4. Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson
5. First Part Last by Angela Johnson
6. Sugar by Bernice L. McFadden
7. Everyday Use (short story) by Alice Walker
8. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
9. Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey
10. Street Love by Walter Dean Myers
11. To Claim a King by May Chase
In 2020, it has become my mission to read five books written by Black authors for every one book I read by a non-Black author. To my pleasant surprise, I’m pretty excited that there are so many great options that I worry I may not get to them all. That’s something I absolutely would not have been able to say even five years ago. And while my favorite books with Black characters grows by the day, there are still a few that I go back to time-and-time again, though I’m looking forward to how my favorites change over the years. But right now, here are my absolute favorite, everyone must read these in order to truly feel alive, books.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo:
If I were left on a deserted island and could only take one book with me, THE POET X would be that book. Xiomara made me feel so incredibly seen. This book touches on growing up in a world that sees Black teens of color as sexual objects who never get to be children, religion, coming out, sexual assault, first love, and wraps it all up in a poetic bow that wiggles itself into your bones so you can never forget it. Written in verse, it’s an incredibly fast read, which means you can read the whole thing again and again (and again) and never get sick of it. THE POET X is the first book that showed that we, Black girls, can be flawed and still worthy of love and respect and dignity and choices. Plus, Acevedo being one of the best writers in YA right now doesn’t hurt!
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi:
I have read fantasy my entire life, and it’s probably my most read genre across age groups. But imagine, that reading dozens of fantasy books a year, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE was the first book with an all Black casts, based on African mythology, that I had ever read. Black characters centered, and not just the sidekicks on the periphery of a white story. Black characters with their own stakes and their own stories, their own set of people they wanted to protected. Black female characters who were desirable, and Black male characters as love interests and soft sides. Black characters who got to be magical. Seeing the impact CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE has already had on YA fantasy has been absolutely amazing, and I’m proud that kids that look like me get to grow up with Zelie as their hero!
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo:
Honestly, any list of my favorite books featuring Black characters is going to have every book that Elizabeth Acevedo releases because she really is just that good. In WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH, she gives us an incredibly relatable teenager in Emoni, even when Emoni deals with life circumstances I couldn’t imagine prevailing through–like having a child in high school. And prevail she does! What makes this book even more fun is the food! The cooking and attention to how food defines culture is so poignant and Emoni’s passion for it leaps off of the page. And again, a book written as beautifully as this deserves to be at the top of every list.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia:
In the push towards more Black stories being published, we are getting a lot based on African mythology (and for good reason, because African mythology is culturally diverse and amazing), but TRISTAN STRONG was the first book to really dig into African American mythology, like Brer Rabbit and Henry. The universe is so expansive that I’m still reading up on all of the stories that Mbalia shined a light on. Plus, this book takes serious issues, like coping with grief, in a way that makes this book accessible to any age reader.
Introduction to Olivia’s video:
Heya! I wanted to recommend some of my favourite books by black authors.
These include some adult, middle grade, nonfiction, poetry collections,
novels in verse, LGBT+ and Latinx reads… I wanted there to be a little
bit of everything for everyone! I loved all of these and find them
important for different reasons. I hope you find a good recommendation in
Link to Olivia’s video