With Black History Month upon us, a list of the top books by authors of color who have impacted the literary world is just what the world needs (we like to do it every month here if we do say so ourselves). From classic novels to nonfiction works, there is an overflowing wealth of literature from authors of color that is only suited to be celebrated. This article will highlight the top ten books to read in honor of black history month this February 2023.
1. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson offers a powerful and eye-opening narrative about the Great Migration of African American people in the 20th century. With vivid detail and a deep understanding of the history and personal stories of those who made the journey, Wilkerson tells a powerful story of courage and resilience.
2. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo is a captivating and powerful exploration of the lives of twelve characters, all black women in the UK. Evaristo’s writing is both nuanced and energetic, and her stories are heartbreaking yet hopeful. It is the perfect leap for anyone looking to understand the multifaceted experiences of black women.
3. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The New Jim Crow is an essential read for anyone looking to understand the history and present-day reality of systemic racism in the United States. Alexander’s analysis of the criminal justice system and its effects on black and brown communities is equally timely and essential.
4. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a thrilling and heartbreaking tale of one woman’s journey to freedom. Whitehead’s vivid and lyrical writing captures the horror and hope of the story in equal measure.
5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a powerful and devastating exploration of racism and internalized oppression. Through the story of an African American family in the mid-twentieth century, Morrison paints a vivid picture of the challenges faced by African Americans. It is a perfect read to dive deep into the complexities of the African American experience.
6. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Anyone who wishes to understand racism and the African American experience in the United States without any slight sugarcoating should read The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Baldwin recounts the personal experiences he faced as a young black person. His poetic and powerful writing truly pulls the reader into the heat with this particular work.
7. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks has been described as a book that every woman must read. The book dives into the unique challenges black women face in a patriarchal society with a power that makes you question all you’ve learned. Hooks’ writing is both passionate and insightful, and her analysis of the intersection of racism and sexism is eye-opening, inspiring, and necessary.
8. The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon is another essential read for anyone looking to gain an understanding of the history of colonialism and its effects on the African continent. Fanon’s writing is both poetic and powerful, and his analysis of the psychological effects of colonialism is still very much needed in today’s cultural scope.
9. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a powerful and heartbreaking exploration of racism and its effects on the African American experience. Coates’ writing is both lyrical and insightful, with a very gentle analysis of the challenges faced by African Americans. It is worth mentioning that the title was named one of Time Magazines’ ten best nonfiction books of the decade and is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, among many other achievements.
10. Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of racism and its effects on the African American experience. With a description that read, “The classic memoir that shocked, outraged, and ultimately changed the way America looked at the civil rights movement and the black experience”, readers can expect to be transported on what may be a challenging but worthwhile journey.
With books from this list, you can learn or be reminded more about the history, experiences, and perspectives of black authors. Celebrate Black History Month this February 2023 by reading one of these mentioned outstanding works.