Black History Month book recommendations and beyond

To celebrate Black History Month, we asked some of our favorite bookstagrammers to recommend books you should be reading all year round, not just in February! Give them a follow, and then pick up one of these books — there’s something for everyone on this list!

  1. Katherine (@foreverabookseller) recommends: Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant. “Happily Ever Afters is for every Black girl that’s felt like she would never find love because she had been told by the world for years that she wasn’t good enough. I can tell you that you are good enough, and I know that by the time that you’re done reading this romantic, funny, kind, loving, and smart debut young adult novel, you’ll believe it too.”
  2. Brittany (@bnjreads) recommends: Snapped by Alexa Martin. “On my account you will see a mix of everything, from feel good rom-coms to explorations of trauma — I read it all! My most anticipated read of 2020 also happened to be my favorite (don’t you love it when that happens)! Snapped by Alexa Martin is my recommendation! Alexa Martin always finds a way to weave together football, social issues, true sisterhood and all the steam you need in her books and just like the other books in the Playbook Series, (Intercepted, Fumbled and Blitzed), Snapped delivered it all!”
  3. Aixa (@thatgoodgoodbook) says: “I recommend Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain out on February 2 from One World Books. It’s the perfect alchemy of art and history written by some of the most insightful thought leaders and writers (artists) in America. Readers will go back to the future.”
  4. Nicola (@bookedupandbusy) recommends: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. “I loved this book because not only is it educational and enlightening about Trevor growing up post-apartheid in South Africa, it is filled with super funny and charismatic stories. A well-written and genius memoir.”
  5. Shakara (@booksnbrownsugar) recommends: Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. “My top recommendation for any reader or non-reader is Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. It’s an easy read that’s packed with the right amount of suspense to keep the pages turning from beginning to end while also sparking the reality of missing children, gentrification, and abuse. A good book should move you, and this novel does just that!”
  6. Bailey (@paperinkstars) recommends: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. “Legendborn, a debut YA fantasy, is the book I wish I had growing up, the book I’m beyond happy to have grace my shelves now, and the book I would recommend to anyone. It’s a beautiful and impactful exploration of grief, PTSD, intergenerational trauma, racism, and so much more. Legendborn is definitely worth the read!”
  7. Shani (@_shaniakilah) recommends: How To Love A Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs. “Such a wonderful collection, exploring stories from Jamaica and its diaspora in a lyrical and authentic way. Absolutely beautiful and unforgettable!”
  8. Rachelle (@raethereviewer) recommends: Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds. “It’s a wonderful exploration of friendship, grief, and moving forward. It also tackles issues of toxic masculinity in the Black community.”
  9. Toya (@contemporarily_yours) recommends: When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk. “When You Were Everything is a beautifully written and heartbreaking story that explores the topics of friendships, love, loyalty, and how our expectations can be flawed. It’s a story that reminds us that not all friendships last forever and that sometimes friends grow apart, leaving us to pick up the pieces and figuring out how to continue on without someone you thought would be around forever.”
  10. Suzie (@asbthebookworm) says: “For my book recommendation, I’m going to go with a favourite read from 2020, which is Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam. It’s an incredible and deeply moving YA novel in verse that at its core is about finding light even in the darkest of places and holding on to that light. It’s also about the power of art and the importance of the written and spoken word. A phenomenal story that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.”
  11. Shawntaye (@shawntaye1) recommends: The Toni Morrison Book Club by Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Cassandra Jackson, and Piper Kendrix Williams. “In this nonfiction book, four friends — who are also educators — examine themes in Toni Morrison novels and then connect those themes to their own lives and injustices in the Black community. Reading this book, I felt like part of their intimate circle and wanted to reread the novels with them. This book is evidence that Morrison and her work will always be relevant.”
  12. Zae (@whittyreads) recommends: Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. “Last year was a difficult year in many different ways for people. However, that book brought me so much joy and I think it’s a book that everyone should read. If you need to smile or laugh this book is the perfect pick me up.”
  13. Toya (@thereadingchemist) recommends: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. “Angie Thomas delivers a raw and unflinching account of Maverick Carter’s life before he was the wise and down to earth dad in The Hate U Give. Concrete Rose will make you uncomfortable and question your biases when it comes to topics such as gangs, teenage pregnancy, and incarceration, but this story is a must read when it comes to understanding the youth that is so often ignored and/or beat down by society.”
  14. Lizz (@readingismyfirstlove) recommends: A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf. “This romance between a Black slave woman and an Irish immigrant, based on the author’s ancestors’ own story, will make you feel deeply for things that didn’t happen to you: to cry at fictional misery, grieve an imaginary loss and cherish moments of a make-believe forbidden love. Along with the touching romance and theme of courage through strife, this book is a tear-jerker. Full review on Bad Form.”
  15. Hawa (@hawa.reads) recommends: They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib. “I love this book because of the way that the author connects music to his personal experiences. For Hanif Abdurraqib to have such a way with words, I think this essay collection is pretty underrated. I’ll read anything he writes!”
  16. Kayla (@honeybuttergal) recommends: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. “Transcendent Kingdom is a book about many things — depression, science, the opioid epidemic, absentee parents, wrestling with one’s faith, life in the American South as an immigrant and racial minority. Each topic warrants a closer look in their own right, but where some books might tackle them all and feel bloated, Gyasi is able to strip each of these topics down to their most salient points in a way that is both breathtaking and haunting.”
  17. Latoya (@jamaicangirlreads) recommends: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. “I loved this book! I saw my younger self on every page and I connected personally with the story and characters. This is a middle grade book that is so relevant for our young girls especially at a time like this. The writing flows easily for the targeted audience and I can see so many young girls relating to Genesis’ story of learning to love and accept herself, manage family complexities, colorism and belonging. I’ll probably re-read this book many times and it will always be on my most recommended list.”
  18. Vivi (@culturedmarketer.reads) says: “I would recommend Afropean, a travel memoir by UK broadcaster, photographer and journalist Johny Pitts who journeys in search of Black Europe. A lot of the history discussed was personal to me, having been born in DR Congo, a country which suffered atrocities under Belgium’s colonial rule, and raised in Europe. Pitts’ visits to a gentrified Matongé and to Tervuren, the disgraced Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium brought back memories. It made me reflect on Sri Lankan novelist Ambalavaner Sivababdan’s words, as referenced in the book, ‘We are here because you were there.’”
  19. Mikhaila (@mikhailareads) recommends: Black Card by Chris L.Terry. “Black Card is a satire on the black experience. The narrator is a mixed race guy in a punk rock band. I enjoyed this book because it’s reminiscent of living while black, and left me thinking about the painstaking task of being black in America. Terry’s story is reality bending, hilarious, and a unique perspective on blackness.”
  20. CoCo (@coco_chasing_adventures) says: “My choice for a book to get you through quarantine is Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. This novel follows the spunky and colorful Dani Brown —  an ambitious, witchy,  PhD candidate studying feminist theories. Dani charges her crystals in a full moon (word to Beyoncé), is body and sex positive, and puts her career first. Still, orgasms are elusive and as a result, she has taken to asking the Gods to send her the perfect sneaky link up. In walks the big, strong and cuddly Zafir Ansari. He’s a former rugby player and reads romance novels (swoon!) This book meets all my criteria for a romance novel: fierce protagonist, snarky humor and Black girl magic. Out of everything, it’s the STEAM for me. Curvy bodies, spontaneous romps and satisfying endings will have you  reaching for every book written by Talia Hibbert.”
  21. Marlowe (@lowelowe_bythebook) says: “For those that are fans of speculative fiction and fantasy, I will forever recommend The FIfth Season by N.K. Jemisin.  The world-building is phenomenal, with some of the most compelling characters I’ve ever read.  What I love most about this book is the way the author addresses issues that very much pertain to our society without using euphemisms or ever stepping out of the fantasy world she has created.  You are dropped into a world and left to figure it out until she decides to let you in on the secret everyone else knows by pushing you off a cliff.  I don’t exaggerate when I say this book (and the series) changed my life and I envy anyone that gets to read it for the first time.”
  22. Kim (@kimbookwyrm) recommends: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. “This Arthurian retelling mixed with heavy doses of Black [Girl] Magic and grief, is the story I’ve waited for. It’s definitely one of my top reads of 2020!”
  23. Brittany (@_britt_lit) recommends: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. “I love this book because it puts black history in the context that spans over several decades by highlighting different stories of fictional people. Even though it’s fictional, the history is true. I never knew I could learn so much about black history from reading a novel. It really opened my eyes to the power of fiction.”
  24. Lauren (@thedopelibrarian) recommends: Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown. “It’s difficult to sum the magic of this book up into a couple of sentences. This book is a magical memoir about the power that rests in each of us. We do not have to be overcome by the circumstances of life, you do not have to go at life alone, but you can tap into a space resting beneath the surface and live a life of wonder. This is a transformative book. You will not read this book and remain the same person. You will feel powerful.”
  25. Amanda (@crownofstories) recommends: With The Fire on High By Elizabeth Acevedo. “It was the first time reading a book where I felt intimately connected to a character. The way Elizabeth touched on Emoni’s fears of not being a fully formed person because her mother was dead and wasn’t able to show her how to be apart of the world were some of the same fears I had as a teenager and as a young woman. The discussion on blackness in the Latin community is also something I’ve found myself speaking about at length with my family.”