Read Black Authors: 10 Books to Add to Your Bookshelves

Hi, friends. Times are tough right now and our hearts are heavy. Many of us are trying to figure out how to move forward in a productive way. We've donated our money, signed petitions, posted to Instagram, and are seeking ways to further educate ourselves and expand this moment of outrage into long-lasting action. We're turning to our SwearBy community to see what books they recommend that confront racism, celebrate Black voices, and above all else, remind us that Black Lives Matter. Add these to your must-read lists and consider buying them from Black-owned indie bookstores.

I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont

“I love everything about this book!!!!!! As a black woman raising a black boy in the US of A it is extremely important to me that my child sees himself represented in all aspects of his life. I find that this book brilliantly addresses many of the obstacles and insecurities that people of color face in this country in a fun and colorful way. I think all children should read it. Until we ALL understand one another’s journey things will NOT CHANGE. Ignorance is only bliss if you are privileged enough to be ignorant.” — Rachel Nicks Lyons

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

“I saw McMillan-Cotton interviewed on The Daily Show this week (1/15/19) and was so taken with her that I immediately bought the book…and devoured 2/3 of it in one sitting. This is not an easy or a comfortable set of essays, but it is an important one, and McMillan-Cotton is a fabulous writer, weaving personal narrative and sociological data in a way that is both impactful and understandable.” — Yelena Dasher

Becoming by Michelle Obama

“Michelle Obama’s novel, Becoming, is one of the most influential memoirs I’ve read so far. The book is touching, relatable, inspiring, and at times funny. Ms. Obama will inspire you to choose empathy instead of apathy, and to take action in the face of injustice. She influences the reader to choose optimism because, in her words, it is ‘a force that’s larger and more potent than any one election, leader, or news story.’ It is ‘a form of faith, an antidote to fear.'” — Naydeline Mejia

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

“This is immediate and required reading for everyone!” — Alana Benjamin

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker

“Morgan Parker. You’ll understand when you read it.” — Naima Green

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“I read a lot and I was debating which book to share. I landed on this one because even though it seems very specific to my experience, each short story is powerful on its own. The stories string together to create a beautiful narrative about connectivity between generations and lineage.” — Simone Tetteh

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

“I read it when I was growing up in Ghana and this book became a very influential part of my youth. It’s a phenomenal work of fiction.” — Natasha Nyanin

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

“This story was entirely absorbing from pretty much the very first page. It is essentially a story of relationships. The narrative is told in three points of view — the three sisters. We see their struggles, their faults, their weaknesses, their resentments, the ways in which they understood their family and their upbringing, and we ultimately come to recognize that each of them carry their own baggage. Themes of gender, abuse, mental health, eating disorders, family dynamics, and sexual orientation are all explored in thought provoking and delicate ways. It’s a really great book, and it totally took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did.” — Madeleine Letellier

Woman of Color by LaTonya Yvette

“I read this entire book in 2 short visits to the beach. I LOVED it! I felt validated in every way. LaTonya is able to take you on a journey of everyday trials and explain them in the most eloquent way. I felt like I learned a complete lifetime about her and her views on life in 189 easy to read pages. She includes interviews from other women throughout the book, to break up the sections of her life, which I thoroughly enjoyed! This is a book you can read while watching the kids, as it is divided in a way that you can walk away and come back without missing a beat. This is a must-read and a PERFECT BEACH READ!” — Alice Keefe

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

“It’s a really important “what if” book about race. What if a modern black woman suddenly found herself transported 150+ years into the past, right into the center of the antebellum South? The book doesn’t shy away from portraying the realities of that (nothing is sugar-coated, be prepared for some upsetting scenes). This book addresses many current issues in a way I think a lot of people wouldn’t normally take the time to think about – but need to.” — Jasmine Nelson

I'm a social media and editorial manager by day, and moonlight as a part-time bookseller. An avid reader always—I share my reading life on Instagram at @bookishmadeleine.