How You as a Reader Can Help: Read Black Authors

June 4, 2020 Book lists 1

Graphic: Read Black Authors

For white and other non-black readers, one place to start the work of anti-racism in our own lives is by reading and supporting black authors (and other authors of color, but because of current events, right now the focus is on black authors.) Reading more diversely helps us see the world through many eyes, and gain a greater understanding of and empathy for other people’s lives and experiences. That is something that we need a lot more of in the world, not just now, but always. Also, supporting black authors by buying and reading their works also lets the publishing industry know that their voices, stories, and ideas are valued and marketable, which could open the doors to other authors getting published.

A common objection you often hear is “I don’t pay attention to an author’s race; I just read what’s good” (or “I just read books I like.”) But if you do that, almost all the books you read will be by white authors, because far more books by white authors get published. Thanks in part to the diverse books movement, we have begun to see more authors of color, particularly in the children’s and YA fields, but it remains true that the overwhelming majority of books published are by white authors.* Therefore, if you want to read more books by black authors, you will need to be intentional in seeking them out.

I admit that for decades, I didn’t really pay that much attention to the fact that I was reading almost exclusively white authors. In the last few years, I’ve started to pay more attention, and have begun to to read a little more diversely within my usual genres. But I’ll be honest: I still have a long way to go. So the following lists and links, which I have compiled from a variety of sources, are as much for me as for you.

For the authors, I’ve listed one or two of their better-known, most popular, or most acclaimed books. I’ve included many of the classic authors taught in schools, but also a lot of current authors and some recent debuts. The lists are by no means exhaustive, so feel free to recommend others in the comments, particularly if you read and loved them. All the book title and author links go to Goodreads.

A final note: Please consider supporting black-owned bookstores when you buy these books. If that’s not possible, try to purchase through your local independent bookstore. All independent bookstores are struggling right now.

Books on Anti-Racism

Almost every list I’ve seen seems to include these books. I have several of them on order.

There are, of course, many more books on racism and anti-racism. Here are some useful lists:

Black Authors

Nonfiction, Memoirs, Poetry, Plays

Fiction (Literary and Otherwise)

Fantasy, SF, and Speculative Fiction (Adult)

YA Fantasy, SF, and Speculative Fiction

Mystery

And here are a bunch more:

Romance (contemporary, historical, etc.) and Women’s Fiction

And here are a bunch more:

YA Fiction

(For YA fantasy and SF, see above)

Middle Grade Books

More Lists

*Not coincidentally, most of the people working in the publishing field are also white. One reason is that getting a job in the publishing world usually requires experience, gained through an internship. Because people of color are disproportionately poor and working class, those who can afford the costs of an internship (particularly in New York where rents are sky-high) are more likely to be white.

One Response to “How You as a Reader Can Help: Read Black Authors”

  1. Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits

    Great lists! I’ve been trying to read more books by diverse authors too, but being half-Chinese I started out with a focus on reading more Asian authors. I’ve lately started branching out into other ethnic backgrounds too, but I know I still have a long way to go.

    One of my favorite books by a Black author is the middle grade Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. So good! I’m looking forward to its sequel too, which comes out this fall I think.
    Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits recently posted…The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag ~ 2020 editionMy Profile

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