Since February is Black History Month, I wanted to dedicate a post to recommending books by Black authors!
I’ll be giving you 20 recommendations, divided in 4 parts: books I’ve read and loved, books I own but haven’t read yet (both physical and digital), books I have on my wishlist, and book releases I’m looking forward to.
I tried to limit myself to one book per author, so you get as many different recs as possible. But I do encourage you to look up more books by these authors, because a lot of them have written multiple amazing books!
READ & LOVED
K. Ancrum – The Weight of the Stars
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .
In K. Ancrum’s signature poetic style, this slow-burn romance will have you savoring every page.
The first book I want to recommend is also one of the first books I finished reading for Black History Month. I enjoyed The Weight of the Stars so much! It was so soft and wholesome, there was a lovely sapphic romance, and there was the absolute best sibling relationship. While this is a standalone, I would recommend reading The Wicker King first if you’d like to recognize some of the characters making a cameo from that book.
Little side note: the main character in this book is not Black. The love interest is, and I recommend it because the author is as well. I wanted to add this in case you’re specifically looking for books written by Black authors with Black main characters. As far as I’m aware, that is the case for all the other books I’m recommending in this post.
Dean Atta – The Black Flamingo
Fiercely told, this is a timely coming-of-age story, told in verse about the journey to self-acceptance. Perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan, Poet X and Orangeboy.
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
*I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.*
This was one of my favourite books of 2019, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s just such a beautiful verse novel. It will be released in the US as well this year, and you can preorder here! Check out my full review of The Black Flamingo as well!
Talia Hibbert – Get a Life, Chloe Brown
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?
• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.
But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
For romance fans, I would very much recommend Get a Life, Chloe Brown. This especially deals with chronic illness, and the rep is said to be fantastic. It’s also a very loveable romance, and it was one of the best I read last year. It was my first Talia Hibbert book, but I’ve heard great things about her other books and I’ve also heard she has a book with great autism rep, so you can bet I’ll read more of her books!
India Hill Brown – The Forgotten Girl
“Do you know what it feels like to be forgotten?”
On a cold winter night, Iris and her best friend, Daniel, sneak into a clearing in the woods to play in the freshly fallen snow. There, Iris carefully makes a perfect snow angel – only to find the crumbling gravestone of a young girl, Avery Moore, right beneath her.
Immediately, strange things start to happen to Iris: She begins having vivid nightmares. She wakes up to find her bedroom window wide open, letting in the snow. She thinks she sees the shadow of a girl lurking in the woods. And she feels the pull of the abandoned grave, calling her back to the clearing…
Obsessed with figuring out what’s going on, Iris and Daniel start to research the area for a school project. They discover that Avery’s grave is actually part of a neglected and forgotten Black cemetery, dating back to a time when White and Black people were kept separate in life – and in death. As Iris and Daniel learn more about their town’s past, they become determined to restore Avery’s grave and finally have proper respect paid to Avery and the others buried there.
But they have awakened a jealous and demanding ghost, one that’s not satisfied with their plans for getting recognition. One that is searching for a best friend forever – no matter what the cost.
The Forgotten Girl is both a spooky original ghost story and a timely and important storyline about reclaiming an abandoned segregated cemetery.
Another book I finished this month is The Forgotten Girl, which is a really creepy but also really lovely middlegrade about a girl who finds a forgotten segregated cemetery.
Camryn Garrett – Full Disclosure
In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.
Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.
Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.
Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…
Full Disclosure is another book I just can’t stop recommending. I would especially recommend this if you’re looking for a very queer book with an M/F romance. It’s also just very bold and very original in helping to destigmatize being HIV positive. I really appreciate this book for all it does, and I hope you’ll consider reading it. I really can’t wait to see what Camryn Garrett will be writing next! Check out my full review of Full Disclosure as well!
ON MY TBR
Alechia Dow – The Sound of Stars
Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
The Sound of Stars sounds like a really cool and really nerdy sci-fi, and I’ve already seen some really positive reviews from people I trust. I especially heard really good things about the rep! It’s on my digital TBR and I can’t wait to get to it.
Candice Montgomery – By Any Means Necessary
An honest reflection on cultural identify, class, and gentrification. Fans of Nic Stone and Elizabeth Acevedo will eagerly anticipate Torrey.
On the day Torrey officially becomes a college freshman, he gets a call that might force him to drop out before he’s even made it through orientation: the bee farm his beloved uncle Miles left him after his tragic death is being foreclosed on.
Torrey would love nothing more than to leave behind the family and neighborhood that’s bleeding him dry. But he still feels compelled to care for the project of his uncle’s heart. As the farm heads for auction, Torrey precariously balances choosing a major and texting Gabriel—the first boy he ever kissed—with the fight to stop his uncle’s legacy from being demolished. But as notice letters pile up and lawyers appear at his dorm, dividing himself between family and future becomes impossible unless he sacrifices a part of himself.
You might know that I’m a patron for LGBTQ Reads, for which I get to choose a queer book every month! I wanted something by a Black author this month, and ended up with By Any Means Necessary, and I’m very excited to read it.
I would also highly recommend joining LGBTQ Reads‘s Patreon as well if you’re able!
Tiffany D. Jackson – Monday’s Not Coming
Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.
As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?
Monday’s Not Coming is a book that’s been on my TBR for quite some time. It’s a mystery, which isn’t my usual genre to read, but I have heard really good things about it.
Kacen Callender – Felix Ever After
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.
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
Another book on my digital TBR is Felix Ever After. I’m sure I’ll get to this soon, because I’m so hyped to read it! It sounds really diverse, and really queer, and just really awesome. Also, I just love this cover so incredibly much.
Amanda Joy – A River of Royal Blood
An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.
Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.
When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.
A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.
A River of Royal Blood had been on my radar for a while, and then I saw it was included in a FairyLoot box. I didn’t get that box, but luckily, I was able to buy a secondhand copy of the FairyLoot edition, which is signed and has sprayed edges. I haven’t been in a fantasy mood lately, but I’m still very much looking forward to this book.
ON MY WISHLIST
Kristina Forest – I Wanna Be Where You Are
When Chloe Pierce’s mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe’s mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind. So now Chloe’s chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast—two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat.
I was so excited to read this book that I actually ordered it after starting to write this blog post. But I don’t have it yet, so it still counts, right? I just love YA romcoms a whole lot, and this sounds so fluffy and so good!
Ashia Monet – The Black Veins
In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.
Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?
She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.
Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.
This is another book where I’ve heard so many good things about all the rep! It sounds so cool as well. I’m a huge sucker for found family, so I have high hopes for this one.
Janae Marks – From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?
A crime he says he never committed.
Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.
But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.
This is a middlegrade that just came out in January, and it sounds really unique. I’m honestly pretty simple though, I see a pretty illustrated cover and I’ll want to buy the book.
Alexandra Sheppard – Oh My Gods
Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic.
But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic.
She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!
Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.
She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.
Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?
I remember reading and loving a book sort of similar like this as a teenager, about the Greek gods living in London in present time. And it was so funny. This sounds really funny as well, and it would be cool to read a story like that but with more diversity.
Nic Stone – Clean Getaway
From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle-grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present, perfect for Black History Month and for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds. How to Go on an Unplanned Road Trip with Your Grandma: Grab a Suitcase: Prepacked from the big spring break trip that got CANCELLED. Fasten Your Seatbelt: G’ma’s never conventional, so this trip won’t be either. Use the Green Book: G’ma’s most treasured possession. It holds history, memories, and most important, the way home. What Not to Bring: A Cell Phone: Avoid contact with Dad at all costs. Even when G’ma starts acting stranger than usual. Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with New York Times bestselling Nic Stone and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn’t always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren’t always what they seem–his G’ma included. Real historical elements like the Green Book, the subject and namesake of the recent Oscar winning film, make this an educational and powerful read.
I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by Nic Stone. Which is, I think, everything she’s published. This is her first middlegrade, and as I’m a big fan of middlegrade, I’m excited to read it.
Brandy Colbert – The Voting Booth
From Stonewall Award-winning author Brandy Colbert comes an all-in-one-day love story perfect for fans of The Sun is Also A Star.
Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?
Duke Crenshaw is do done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change, but some things are just meant to be.
One upside of 2020 being an election year in the US is that we’re getting some political and voting related books. The Voting Booth sounds like a really lovely YA contemporary – I loved The Sun Is Also a Star because everything is set during one day, and I felt the same way about They Both Die At the End, for instance.
Julian Winters – The Summer of Everything
Comic book geek Wesley Hudson excels at two things: slacking off at his job and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local used bookstore, is threatened when a coffeeshop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his annoying brother needs wedding planning advice. When all three problems converge, Wes comes face-to-face with the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.
Now, confronted with reality, can Wes balance saving the bookstore and his strained sibling relationship? Can he win the heart of his crush, too?
This sounds like another adorable Julian Winters romcom. I really loved his previous two books, Running With Lions and How to Be Remy Cameron, so I’m completely ready to fall in love with this book as well.
Elizabeth Acevedo – Clap When You Land
In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.
And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Elizabeth Acevedo is one of my favourite authors. Her writing is out of this world beautiful. So I can only imagine Clap When You Land will be just as beautiful as The Poet X and With the Fire On High. I’m extra hyped because this will be another verse novel!
Namina Forna – The Gilded Ones
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.
I actually don’t know a lot about this book, but it does sound and look really awesome. I have a few African inspired fantasy books to read already, but this is definitely going on my TBR as well!
Ashley Woodfolk – When You Were Everything
You can’t rewrite the past, but you can always choose to start again.
It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded.
Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.
Now, Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex–best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding new friendships with other classmates—and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom—Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both.
Alternating between time lines of Then and Now, When You Were Everything blends past and present into an emotional story about the beauty of self-forgiveness, the promise of new beginnings, and the courage it takes to remain open to love.
I still haven’t read The Beauty That Remains (but I’m determined to get to it soon!), but that doesn’t keep me from being curious of Ashley Woodfolk’s second book. I have been wanting to read more about friendship break-ups.
What are your favourite books by Black authors?
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Thank you for this great list! I’ve only read K. Ancrum’s The Wicker King (and I enjoyed it a lot!) before, but with this list I get to know many amazing titles. I’ve been wanting to read books by Julian Winters so hopefully I will be able to this year. And The Sound of Stars cover though. Love the colours!
Such a great list. I can’t wait for Clap When You Land!
II want to read When You Were Everything. I need a good female friendship story. Maybe it will give me a good cry!
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This is a great list! I’m actually doing my own Black History Month inspired recommendations post later this week. So it’s interesting to see where are lists are similar and different.
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