74 Books to Buy to Highlight Black Authors During the #BlackoutBestsellerList Initiative
Reading Black literature is elemental in understanding diverse narratives and experiences. It provides a rich conversance with some of the most impactful, world-changing cultures through tales and accounts of strength and fearlessness, as well as pain and vulnerability.
Now until June 20, a movement to better recognize Black authors and their work is happening through an initiative called #BlackoutBestsellerList. Buy two books by Black authors during this time to help elevate Black literature to the top of the bestseller list and empower deserving authors across genres.
There are many different works by Black authors that deserve recognition — many of which are the most popular books on Goodreads. Scroll ahead to see some of the best ones readers can't stop raving about for your next reading session!
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
What it's about: Born in the South during the Antebellum era, Hiram Walker is an enslaved man who possesses superhuman abilities, including a keen photographic memory and the power to transport people over long distances. He begins to use those skills to help others escape a life of subjugation while discovering more about his roots.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
What it's about: The sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, this tale reveals what happens when characters Zélie and Amari bring magic back to the land of Orïsha. Their supposed victory unleashes powerful forces that threaten Orïsha's monarchy and may bring about civil war.
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones
What it's about: Through a series of vignettes, Saeed Jones's memoir explores his experience growing up as a gay Black man from the South and his journey toward embracing himself.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
What it's about: Historian Ibram X. Kendi delves into race relations and the belief that not being racist isn't enough to create a better society; we must actively become antiracists in order to make real change.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon With Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes
What it's about: Descendants of an enslaved African women who were tossed overboard build an underwater world and use knowledge of their heritage to shape their future.
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
What it's about: This memoir takes readers on a journey through time as Sarah M. Broom opens up about her childhood in New Orleans, offering the historical context of her house and the state of Louisiana.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
What it's about: A white woman named Alix Chamberlain is sent into a spiral of events after her Black babysitter, Emira Tucker, is wrongly accused of kidnapping her child when the two go shopping together. Alix, who's used to getting what she wants, hopes to right the wrongs against Emira, but it isn't smooth sailing. Things are further complicated when someone from Alix's past shows up.
The World Doesn't Require You: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott
What it's about: Diving into matters of religion, race, violence, and love, this part-realistic, part-fantasy story focuses on three unusual residents in the fictional town of Cross River, which was established by the leaders of the country's only successful slave revolt in the mid-1800s.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
What it's about: Teenager Bri is determined to make it big as a rapper after the death of her father, a hip-hop legend. And her hope for success becomes a necessity when hard times fall on her and her mother.
Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden
What it's about: A young Black girl named Savannah Riddle lives a wealthy Washington DC lifestyle in the early 1900s. But when she meets Lloyd, a young West Indian man, she becomes more aware of the world's social issues and is set on making positive change.
Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
What it's about: The phrase "Black Girl Magic" takes on a literal meaning in this tale about author surrogate Echo Brown, a young wizard who hones her powers to help those around her.
A Black Women's History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
What it's about: Hear the many voices of Black women, from the enslaved to religious leaders, artists, and activists, in A Black Women's History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross. Be enchanted by their determination and grit and humbled by their bravery in the face of oppression. This not-to-be-missed nonfiction book reveals women who were instrumental in developing our country and celebrates their spirit and courage.
A Day's Notice: To Believe or Not Believe . . . by Paris Keal
What it's about: This fun-to-read book will keep you hooked from beginning to end. When Donathan receives an email from someone who says their name is Jesus and warns of the world shutting down in 24 hours, he wakes up his girlfriend to see what they should do. The couple decide to make the best memories they can in a day, whether or not the email is real or fake.
A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette
What it's about: If you love the cozy mystery genre, you'll be all about this cute and quirky novel by Abby Collette. A Deadly Inside Scoop takes place in a quaint ice cream shop. Soon after Bronwyn Crewse takes over her family's store, she finds a dead body in the street. Unfortunately, the man she found had issues with her family, and all signs of his murder point to them. Bronwyn must find out who the killer really is before it's too late.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
What it's about: This modern fairy tale is about Black mermaids and their self-discovery alongside the challenges of racism and sexism. Tavia and Effie work to hide their siren powers, all while coming to terms with who they really are.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
What it's about: A National Book Award finalist, American Street is the coming-of-age story of a young Haitian woman, Fabiola Toussaint. She's ready to make a good life for herself in America, but when her mom is detained by US immigration, everything changes. Ibi Zoboi's take on encountering a brand-new world without the person you trust and love the most comes from her experience as a Haitian immigrant.
And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall
What it's about: They All Fall Down author Rachel Howzell Hall is back with another thrilling novel: And Now She's Gone. Fans of Janet Evanovich and James Patterson won't be able to put down this page-turner that follows a woman on the hunt for a missing woman who may not want to be found. Early reviewers are already raving about it!
Out Sept. 22
Becoming by Michelle Obama
What it's about: In former First Lady Michelle Obama's dazzling memoir, Becoming, she chronicles her life from a childhood on the South Side of Chicago to becoming one of the most compelling and visible women of her time, noting all of the triumphs and disappointments she faced along the way.
Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen
What it's about: When 33-year-old Tabitha Walker finds out that stress has caused a premature burnout of her egg reserve, she must figure out how to follow her dreams of being a mother.
Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry
What it's about: Moving, saddening, and raw, Imani Perry's book explores what it means to grow up as a Black person in America. Her struggles of being a parent to children who must live in a persistently unjust world are shared in this heartbreaking novel, one page at a time.
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
What it's about: Elisabeth Thomas's Catherine House is a suspenseful thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Catherine House is a school of higher learning that promises a sublime education for every student. But to get this education costs more than just money — it requires students to give three years to the House, completely removed from the outside world, and not everyone can handle that.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
What it's about: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is a novel told in verse about a plane crash that robs two girls of their father but gives them the gift of each other. Each summer, Camino Rios looks forward to her father visiting her in the Dominican Republic, but after learning his plane has crashed, Camino realizes her father had another life she knew nothing about.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
What it's about: Delightful and insightful, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine tells the story of a girl who has heard about Haiti all her life. When she finally makes the trip out to see it, she falls in love with the proud history and inspiring people, only to find out her family is facing a curse. She must fix things before everything falls apart.
F*ck Your Diet: And Other Things My Thighs Tell Me by Chloé Hilliard
What it's about: Comedian Chloé Hilliard will have you laughing, crying, and rooting for her the whole way when you read F*ck Your Diet: And Other Things My Thighs Tell Me. It's candid and raw, and it has everything you need to get to know the star on a whole new level.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
What it's about: Humorous and heartfelt, Get a Life, Chloe Brown is about a chronically ill girl who makes a list for herself of things to do that that will help her "get a life." From riding a motorcycle to doing something bad, she's determined to complete her list.
Grown by Tiffany D Jackson
What it's about: Tiffany D. Jackson's YA mystery novel Grown will leave you questioning everything. Who killed legendary R&B artist Korey Field, and more importantly, was it Enchanted Jones? Enchanted was just a girl following her dreams, so how did it end up like this?
Out Sept. 15
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
What it's about: Hidden Figures tells the true story of the Black women mathematicians who worked at NASA and helped America win the space race despite prejudices and segregation laws. Known as "human computers," these women were once hidden from history and their achievements pushed aside. Not anymore! Margot Lee Shetterly's New York Times bestseller was also adapted into a movie in 2016.
Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston
What it's about: Through a collection of powerful stories, Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick: Stories From the Harlem Renaissance describes what it was like growing up in New York as the only Black person at Barnard College. This book touches on gender and class, racism and sexism, and so much more.
Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
What it's about: Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall takes a deep dive into who feminism is for, what it means, and how it is interpreted by society. Kendall confronts the issues of mainstream feminism through this collection of essays and targets the different problems that still run deep throughout the movement.
How to Get Over a Boy by Chidera Eggerue
What it's about: If you're looking for a powerful self-care guide, How to Get Over a Boy by Chidera Eggerue is for you. From navigating the dating world to truly understanding yourself, this book will lead you on a journey of self-exploration, even if you weren't planning on it.
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
What it's about: A New York Times bestseller, Austin Channing Brown's I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness is an eye-opening novel about what growing up as a Black woman is really like. It exposes how America falls short when it comes to racial justice, diversity, inclusion, and more.
In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow
What it's about: A small-town story about family and friendship, In West Mills follows Azalea "Knot" Centre and her journey to finding herself. With help from her neighbor Otis Lee Loving, Knot begins to see things more clearly.
Intercepted by Alexa Martin
What it's about: This fun romance book dives into the love life of Marlee Harper, a girl who just got burned by her last relationship and is on to a new one. She swore she would never date an athlete again, until the new hotshot quarterback comes into her life.
It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan
What it's about: Loretha Curry is 67 and thriving, and she refuses to believe her best days are behind her. On the eve of her 68th birthday, an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, and she must figure out how to look on the bright side once more.
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
What it's about: This thrilling novel is not only about the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, but it's also about the horror that has been forced on Black bodies in the name of science over the years. It follows a girl who must take up a new job to support her family, while also turning a blind eye to everything unjust that is happening before her.
Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger by Lama Rod Owens
What it's about: Lama Rod Owens explores how anger toward white supremacy can manifest and grow inside of a person and how to combat these feelings of hate and rage in a better way. He works to help readers transform their anger into something positive through meditation exercises, mindfulness, and more.
More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys
What it's about: With a detailed dive into her life, Alicia Keys tells her story in More Myself: A Journey, including everything from heartache to stardom. The book takes a look at her troubling relationship with her father, her path to success, and her roots before becoming a world-famous artist.
More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
What it's about: Journalist and editor Elaine Welteroth shares her life journey in More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (No Matter What They Say). It takes a look into what it means to come into your own and how to do so on your own terms.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
What it's about: In her hilarious dark debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite introduces two Nigerian sisters: the beautiful Ayoola, who is possibly a sociopathic murderer, and her older sister, Korede, who must figure out a way to stop her sister from killing any more of her boyfriends.
Obviously: Stories From My Timeline by Akilah Hughes
What it's about: This coming-of-age memoir is funny, honest, and extremely down to earth. Obviously: Stories From My Timeline by Akilah Hughes details Hughes's early life and her journey toward becoming a force in the media landscape. From delving into her complex family dynamic to detailing the very long, very arduous road to hitting her stride in New York, the Cincinnati native divulges a lot in a collection of chapters that peel back the layers of her identity.
Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color by Khristi Lauren Adams
What it's about: With beautiful and moving stories about young women of color, Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color by Khristi Lauren Adams doesn't shy away from anything. These stories highlight the young girls and their struggles, as well as their hope and strength.
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
What it's about: Patsy left her daughter in Jamaica to follow Cicely, her oldest friend, to New York. She feels like in America she can love freely and put herself first, but trying to survive as an undocumented immigrant is harder than she thought. Patsy must figure out what's important while staying true to herself.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
What it's about: Pet explores themes of identity and justice through this gripping tale. When Jam and her best friend, Redemption, are told there are no monsters to be afraid of, they believe it. That is, until a monster emerges from one of Redemption's mother's paintings. She must tell people there's a monster, even as people are saying there are none.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi ($13)
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
What it's about: A dual winner of the Newbery Honor Book Award and Coretta Scott King Award for nonviolent social change, Piecing Me Together follows Jade, a young woman who wants to make a difference and create a beautiful life for herself. Her mother is always encouraging her to seize opportunities that come her way, and as Jade does, she realizes some opportunities are only stunting her growth as an individual, especially as an "at-risk" girl. Renée Watson's groundbreaking novel is a timeless tale of never giving up even when the going gets tough.
Queen Bey: A Celebration of the Power and Creativity of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter by Veronica Chambers
What it's about: In a post-Beychella world, it's only right that there's a book devoted to the genius that is Beyoncé, whose name now auto-corrects on iPhones everywhere. She's sold over 100 million records and won 24 Grammys, and she's the most nominated woman of the award. Queen Bey: A Celebration of the Power and Creativity of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter celebrates this, with pieces written by everyone from director and producer Lena Waithe to British Vogue Editor in Chief Edward Enninful.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
What it's about: Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London. She works at a newspaper and recently got out of a relationship with her long-term boyfriend. After countless mishaps with men and struggling to fit in, Queenie takes a look at her life and realizes just how hard it is to be a so-called adult.
Reach For the Skai: How to Inspire, Empower, and Clapback by Skai Jackson
What it's about: Reach For the Skai: How to Inspire, Empower, and Clapback by Skai Jackson details the origins of Skai's acting career, addresses bullying, and tells the young star's story from her own eyes. While she might look like she has it all in the spotlight, she wants people to know that's not the case, and she's stronger because of it.
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
What it's about: When Ruby's mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago, the cops dismiss it as just another violent act in the community. Ruby is forced to stay with her violent father, who forbids her from seeing her best friend, Layla. Layla knows she must get Ruby out and will do everything she can to do it.
So We Can Glow: Stories by Leesa Cross-Smith
What it's about: Focused on the experiences that women face, So We Can Glow: Stories by Leesa Cross-Smith will open up your eyes to how amazing women really are. With a peek into some of the most beautiful, haunting, and darkest corners of women's lives, this book will move you like never before.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
What it's about: So You Want to Talk About Race is a popular guide written by Ijeoma Oluo that gives readers of all races the language to have respectful, constructive dialogue about race. From racist jokes to hair touching to white supremacy, affirmative action, "model minorities," and structural injustice, you'll learn how to communicate more empathetically and, more importantly, how to listen.
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
What it's about: Critically acclaimed author Kalisha Buckhanon tells the story of Autumn Spencer, a Black girl whose twin sister goes missing. When the police don't work hard enough to find her, Autumn must do everything she can to fight the racial injustice and figure out what happened herself.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
What it's about: The No. 1 New York Times bestseller and a USA Today bestseller, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is about race, how we got here, and where we are now.
Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson
What it's about: If you're looking for a page-turner, pick up Dorothy Koomson's Tell Me Your Secret. Pieta and Jody both have secrets, and telling them could put themselves and others in danger. Is it worth it? There's only one way to find out . . .
The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
What it's about: Both heartbreaking and inspiring, The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré narrates the trials and tribulations a 14-year-old Nigerian girl faces as she struggles to get an education. When she is sold to be the wife of an old man in town, she faces hurdle after hurdle but is never fully silenced.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
What it's about: Penned by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give follows high schooler Starr Carter, who was in the passenger seat when her best friend Khalil was fatally shot by a police officer. He was also unarmed. Khalil's death quickly becomes national news, and without a prime witness stepping forward, everyone in town and around the world is making their own assumptions of why he was shot. Was he a drug dealer? Was he trying to take advantage of Starr? With her family now in serious danger and her city filled with protesters, will Starr be able to share what actually happened that day?
The Secret Women by Sheila Williams
What it's about: Written by Sheila Williams, The Secret Women is a fun and fascinating book about the relationship between mothers and daughters. When three girls meet in yoga, they are bonded together when they learn their mothers all passed away. The girls find diaries and notes that tell of their mothers' secret lives.
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
What it's about: Now a major motion picture, The Sun Is Also a Star is a modern take on serendipity. Natasha doesn't believe in destiny and is less than a day away from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel checks every box of what a "good son" should be; he gets good grades, is a family man, and has always been working toward his future. But what happens when they meet one fateful day on a crammed New York City street? Nicola Yoon intertwines the lives of two teenagers whose lives couldn't be more different.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
What it's about: In The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett explores the history of passing through the lens of twin sisters. While they were as close as sisters could be growing up, the Vignes twins' lives took different paths when they reached adulthood. One sister remains in their old neighborhood where she's now raising a daughter of her own, while the other passes for white and lives with her husband, who doesn't know anything about her past.
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
What it's about: Wedding planner Carolina Santos is left at the altar, and after getting her life back together, she is forced to work with her ex-fiancé's irritating (and equally handsome) brother. What could go wrong?
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
What it's about: This mystery novel from Rachel Howzell Hall promises plenty of surprise and intrigue for those who gravitate toward thrillers. When a group of seven strangers arrive on a private island after being promised a luxurious vacation, none of them anticipate the harrowing events that will take place during their stay. While the guests on the island struggle with the secrets they're keeping from everyone, an unknown force begins taking them out one by one until they have all fallen. With a diverse cast of characters and a chilling narrative, They All Fall Down is a thriller worth diving into.
Tiny Imperfections by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans
What it's about: Josie Bordelon used to be the It girl in beauty in the '90s, but those days are behind her. She's now the director of admissions at San Francisco's most sought-after private school, and her number one goal to is to help her teenage daughter, Etta, not make the same mistakes as she did.
Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
What it's about: Magical, compelling, and hard to put down, this book by Alaya Dawn Johnson tells the tale of an assassin who falls in love and tries to change her fate at the beginning of World War II. Ten years later, her life has flashed by her eyes and she must find out how to get it back.
Out July 21
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
What it's about: Twin brothers Tyler and Marvin Johnson attend a party where mindless fun quickly takes a fatal turn into a shooting and police raid. Tyler is found dead, and in a turn of even more unfortunate events, Marvin uncovers his twin's murderer: a police officer. Jay Coles tackles prominent topics of gun control and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
What it's about: An enthralling novel about a young slave escaping a Barbados sugar plantation with the master's abolitionist brother, Washington Black takes readers along their adventurous journey around the world while exploring what it really means to be free.
We Want Our Bodies Back by jessica Care moore
What it's about: Written by the American poet and activist jessica Care moore, We Want Our Bodies Back includes a full-length collection of poems that serve as an ode to the power and pain Black women have experienced over the years due to men and society overall. Complete with a handful of powerful pieces, this book is sure to change the way you see things.
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
What it's about: Described as Rear Window meets Get Out, Alyssa Cole's When No One Is Watching tells the story of Brooklyn resident Sydney Green, who's watching her neighborhood change before her eyes. When she is out walking one day, she runs into her neighbor Theo, and they soon realize that perhaps their streets are changing for a reason, and a bad reason at that. The push to alter their community may be deadly . . .
Out Sept. 15
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
What it's about: Elizabeth Acevedo, author of The Poet X, is back at it again! With the Fire on High follows Emoni Santiago, who only cares about one thing: sustaining the best life for her daughter and abuela. Overwhelmed with the decision to pursue her passion of cooking, Emoni must decide to risk everything for an attempt at a new career or continue on her current path, which provides a stable and reliable life for her and her family.