Favorite books by Black authors

While February is Black History Month I wanted to share a list of some of my favorite books written by Black authors. I think it’s extremely important to read diverse books all year round, and here is a list I hope inspires your TBR! Click on any book images within this post for affiliate links to Books-a-Million to view more details about each book.

The first book is All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr. I followed this author all the way to her road to publication, and this was one of my most anticipated debut releases for 2023. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! The story is about Amina, a teen girl who experiences a sexual assault from a trusted member of her church clergy. This book is told in verse and uses clever writing techniques like court transcripts, police interviews, and newspaper clippings. I really loved the brilliant way that this author constructed this novel. Then the story really hits deep on a lot of heavier topics as well; I think what makes this book even more special is that Hannah V. Sawyerr, the author, wrote this book inspired by her own life events. While it’s not autobiographical, it is inspired by her own life events. I think that adds a lot of power and truth to the story and makes it relatable. This is a book that I read in 2023, and I absolutely adored it. I highly recommend this book, and if you do the audiobook, Hannah narrates it herself!

All the Fighting Parts Legendborn

The next book I recommend is Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. This is the first book of a young adult contemporary fantasy series. It’s set in today’s world but has magical fantasy elements in it. I loved this one, which was a bit of a surprise to me! It’s a King Arthur retelling, and I’ve never been a huge fan of King Arthur the original or retellings before, so this was a little out of the box for me. However, I devoured it! The story starts with the main character Bree losing her mother. The story digs a lot into grief and how she deals with that heartbreak.

Bree ends up going to a college during her senior year with a program for high schoolers in Chapel Hill North Carolina. She decides to go to it because that was her mother’s alma mater, even though her dad suggests that she doesn’t and he doesn’t necessarily want her to go. But she feels it’s important for her processing of grief to attend. When she gets there, she learns that there’s a lot more going on than simply a college program for teens. This is when the fantasy elements start to come in. We realize that there is a secret society at the school involving King Arthur and all of his Knights of the Roundtable and their descendants. These scions are protecting the world from strange magical occurrences that are happening at the school and putting students at risk. I loved the setting of it being Chapel Hill; I think that that added a lot to the ambiance. I also adored the different characters and the relationship development was executed brilliantly, I loved it!

Next up is Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk. This is a young adult, contemporary story told in verse. This one is all the teenage angst and love emotions that you want in a book. I love that it was written in verse and that it focuses on a female-female relationship. What first starts as a friendship blooms into love. It’s one of those scenarios where the two people together are flame and water; they clash. Yet you root for them and desperately want them to be together. At the same time knowing that they’re terrible for each other. Ah, the range of emotion will make you feel alive. If you want to reminisce on young love and toxic relationships, feel all the feels, and just an overall emotional rollercoaster — this book really does that!

Nothing Burns as Bright as You

Up next is a book by Nic Stone called Fast Pitch. I’ve read almost every book that Nic Stone has put out. This one in particular is a middle-grade novel. If you were a fan of The Sandlot growing up like I was, this book is a female version! It focuses on an all-Black softball team in Georgia that is competing for a championship. One of my nieces plays softball competitively and I’m telling you the dialogue and banter between the teammates and other players reminded me so much of my niece and her games. The story feels authentic to the softball world and is incredibly cute. Since the story is set in the South, it touches on racial issues including flashbacks to the main character’s relative who was once a professional ballplayer. We get some family history here to add depth to the overall story. This was a very quick read, and I highly recommend it for middle graders or adults. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Fast Pitch

Up next is This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, this was my first book by this author. A lot of friends love her series and have recommended her to me since they know I love young adult fantasy novels, and they weren’t wrong. What I loved about this one is that there was adoption rep in it. I adopted both of my sons, so I love seeing adopted characters & families in books! The main character lives in New York City and her two adoptive moms own a floral company. What we realize is that our main character has a special affinity for plants, when plants are around her, they respond to her in peculiar ways. They lean in or grow. If she gets angry, the plants get angry and react too; her emotions are directly tied to her magic around plants. Her very normal, nonmagic moms don’t know what to do with this. They live in our modern-day world where magic isn’t really a thing. It’s kind of this family secret that they keep and since they live in the concrete jungle of New York, there are not as many plants around them as you would think which makes the secret easy to keep.

This story particularly kicks off whenever she has a biological family member who passes away and leaves her an estate in upstate New York. She doesn’t know anything about her biological family, so this is a moment of intrigue for her and for her adoptive moms. They decide to go up to this estate in the country and see what it is all about and hoping to maybe uncover more about her peculiar powers. After arriving, she’s surrounded by nature and her powers start to bloom, and she begins to realize that there’s a lot more to her biological family (who may also have some of these magical powers as well). This is a really fun story where we get so much of the complex family dynamics along with the magic and action as well. This is the first book in this duology.

This Poison Heart This Wicked Fate

This next book may be familiar to several of you, because it is a Netflix movie now, which is called The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I love Angie Thomas and will read any book that she writes. I adore her way of storytelling and character-building because she always hits you on a visceral level with her themes and fresh point of view. This story is about a girl named Star, who witnesses her best friend’s death. They are pulled over one night by a white police officer, and when her friend goes to reach for his hairbrush, he is shot and killed. This is a heavier read regarding police brutality and centers around Star. It showcases how she’s coping with this death and how she’s trying to find justice for her friend while dealing with being the sole witness of the murderer. I did enjoy the movie adaptation, but… the book is better. The book is so much better! So if you watched the movie, you should read the book. And if you haven’t done either, then you should definitely read this book because it is extremely powerful! This is one that I tend to always recommend to nonreaders who ask me to recommend a single book to them out of all the ones on my shelves. It has universal messages that I feel like every reader can learn empathy from.

The Hate U Give

The next book I have is from the adult genre. I know, we’re switching up the young adult deluge here a bit. This is The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. I read this as a buddy read with one of my best friends and wow, let me just say this book is crazy good. It’s book one in a trilogy and we binged all three books back to back because you can’t stop once you get into the story. I will say this fantasy book has a very intricate world-building and it requires your attention; this is not a passive read. You have to be focused and ready for it, but the payout is so worth it. I’m thinking about specific scenes and plot twists right now and this book blew my mind. It is one of my all-time favorite series and NK Jemisin secured a spot as one of my top authors of all time because the series is so brilliant. It is multi-POV and set in a futuristic apocalyptic world. We start off in a world where catastrophes are happening pretty regularly, such as earthquakes, flooding, fires, tornadoes, etc. Across the world, you have little villages that are set up like doomsday prepper communities. Everybody has a role, whether or not you’re a gatherer, worker, or even a breeder to continue on the race, et cetera. These isolated communities are designed to withstand catastrophes, but we start off a catastrophe, the fifth season, which will end the world. It opens up with a mother who has lost her daughter and she is bound to do anything she can to find her. It’s really hard to go into more detail with this because it is so layered and deep, but I highly recommend it especially if you like adult fantasy intricate world-building. This one is amazing and will blow your mind.

The Fifth Season The Obelisk Gate

Back to Young Adult, is another novel that is told in verse The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. This book was a random pickup for me one summer when I wanted something light and fun. All I knew about it was that it focused on a boy who was into drag, and I was here for that. This story follows a teenage boy and is a coming-of-age story. We see the main character discovering who he is and who he wants to be in relationships and discovering his own identity and confidence. This comes to fruition when he finds his drag community and discovers what drag is for him. This was a sweet, emotional read and one that I loved. I did the audiobook on this one and Dean Atta narrates it himself, which is fantastic because the main character was mixed race. He was, I believe, British and Jamaican. I remember listening to the audio and thinking, wow, this narrator really has nailed both accents. It was kind of shocking to me that he was able to do both so authentically, and so that’s what made me look up to see who was narrating the book and realize it was the author who shares that same mixed nationality! I highly recommend listening to the audio on this one. I had to buy the book once I read it because I loved it so much!

The Black Flamingo

This next book is another from my favorite young adult genre, and it is Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. If you’ve ever read a Tiffany D. Jackson book, you know that she comes in hard with heavy topics and really challenges her readers with her stories. A lot of her books are based on real-life inspirations such as viral court cases that garnered a lot of attention. She is a genius at what she does and the perspective she brings to each of these storylines. I will read any book by her but know to go in prepared to feel an array of emotions. Allegedly is about a teenage girl who when she was nine years old, was convicted of murdering an infant that was in the care of her mother. The mother was a church-going woman and she babysat a child from a wealthy white family and the child died while she was in her care. It was determined, allegedly, that the nine-year-old daughter was the one who killed the baby and who is now in the court system because of that conviction. Our story starts with the main character as a teenager and we learn that she is pregnant and she is trying to exonerate her name so that she doesn’t lose custody of the baby that she’s about to be about to birth. Don’t worry, none of that is spoilery as it’s all on the blurb of this book. But what this story explores is — did she do it or not? What actually happened that night? And how can we move forward from such a tragedy and all things that were at play that night? This is emotionally gripping, it will have your jaw on the floor. As you can imagine with the content of the story, there are triggers I’d recommend reviewing prior reading if you have any topics you avoid. Tiffany D. Jackson writes impactful stories that confront tough subject matter which will keep you flipping the page.

Allegedly

And last but not least, I kind of cheated on this one because Blackout is an anthology written by a bunch of my favorite authors, including Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie, Thomas, and Ashley Woodfolk, all of whom were featured in the stack, and then a couple more that I love as well: Dhonielle Clayton and Nicola Yoon. This book is so adorable. It is short, it is a quick read. All of these authors are friends in real life, and they decided to put together an anthology that’s about love stories, specifically Black love stories all set around a central event. It is set during a blackout in New York City. I love books about New York City, since it is one of my favorite cities. I think there are so many stories to be told there and I simply love that backdrop. The book starts with a city-wide blackout. Each short story follows different teens and their love stories. For example, you’ll have one group of teens that have just broken up and they’re having to walk across the Brooklyn bridge together, or you’ll have some friends-to-lovers situations inside the NY Public Library. Each author picked a different trope in romance to use within their story. What I love about this anthology is that while each story has its own arc, they each link together and you see cameos of each individual story as the book goes on. It weaves together in a very flawless way making this one very visual for me. It was adorable; I loved the variety of romance encounters, and how all these different scenes are happening in New York City simultaneously.

Blackout

Wow, thank you for reading my full list! These are a few of my favorite Black authors that I think everyone would enjoy and should read! Remember to read Black authors year round and support your favorite creators by buying their books and sharing with friends. Do you have a book you’d recommend for me? Comment and let me know!

By Coco

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