Books I’ve Read & Recommend by Black Authors

A highly requested post has been books I recommend by Black authors. I am sharing my favorites here that I’d recommend reading. As I’m committing to reading more about anti-racism and even more Black stories, I’m sure you’ll see even more recommendations in my monthly roundups. But for now, this is just what I’ve already read and enjoyed:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

highly recommend this book. I think about it frequently still. The book follows two young lovers from Nigeria and their diverging paths. Ifemelu goes to the United States for college and Obinze ends up in London as an undocumented immigrant. It covers so many issues: race, class, education, immigration…. Will give you a lot to think about.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Oh man, this is another book that will kind of sit with you for a while. I didn’t loooove this book when I first read it, but I swear I kept coming back to it in my head and reprocessing it. The love story is told through the exchanging of letters, so you get different perspectives as the novel unfolds. It’s quite a powerful and heartbreaking story.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I couldn’t put down Michelle Obama’s memoir. I loved getting a peek behind the curtain at her childhood, how she and Barack Obama met, their journey to the White House, and what it was like as First Lady.

From Scratch by Tembi Locke

This memoir by actor Tembi Locke kind of gutted me. It is phenomenal. I listened to the audiobook and, if you’re into audiobooks, I think this is one worth listening to. Let me just say, I’m not going to give the memoir justice with a quick description, but it follows Tembi’s journey after her husband’s death while she connects with his family in Sicily.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

While technically a young adult book. it’s a really fantastic read and more relevant than ever. The main character Starr lives in two separate worlds: Garden Heights where she lives with her family and the elite private school she attends. Starr witnesses her childhood best friend get shot by the police. His death becomes national news and Starr is the only witness and she finds herself in the center of the public controversy.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

This is the true story of the Black women who were the “human calculators” during the Space Race. While the astronauts may have gotten all the glory, this group of women are heroes doing the math needed to send the shuttles into space. The book is fantastic (so is the movie!) and it covers their life story, including the racism they faced while working on the mission to space.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Note: Rebecca Skloot, the author, is white but I wanted to include this book in the list because I think Henrietta Lacks’ story is so important. I was blown away learning about Henrietta Lacks. If you’ve ever taken a science class where they reference or use “HeLa” cells– they’re from Henrietta Lacks. The contribution of her cells were incredibly helpful for advances in science… however, major ethical concerns were overlooked because Henrietta was a Black woman.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

I read this last summer and simply could not put it down. While a novel, it reads like non-fiction and it’s in fact based on a true story of a reform school for boys in Florida. Warning: it is heartbreaking… but such a well-told story.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is a gifted storyteller. Red at the Bone is a quick read, but you’ll want to read it a second time to go back and read it again to make sure you didn’t miss any details. It tackles family, class, motherhood. Teenage pregnancy, unfulfilled dreams and hopes for a better future, life & death.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This is an excellent contemporary fictional novel. The book opens with a 25 year old Black babysitter getting questioned by a security guard in a grocery store because her charge is white. At first it seems like that is going to be the story, but it’s more than that. The book covers both the perspective of Emira and Alix (her boss) as they both navigate their own lives. Emira is in that mid-twenty haze of finding herself (I related to her feelings of being young but also not that young and watching her friends succeed while she felt stuck) and Alix is trying to find her footing in her career again after leaving her beloved city of New York and having two children. It’s a GREAT story that made me think quite a lot without being “heavy.” I found myself laughing out loud at some of the awkward and hilarious and cringeworthy moments.

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I have personally read/saw the film The Hate You Give and found it very powerful and relevant. I taught the novel Hidden Figures and loved it so much but was sad that I had not heard of these women until the book and movie. I studied the immortal life of Henrietta Lacks in grad school and was blown away but it. My husband is a nurse and he knew HeLA cells not but the story behind them so it was a good discussion.
For fiction I just finished Tiny Imperfections (Ashley Brooke recco) and LOVED it.


Equally blown away by the story about Henrietta Lacks. I work in public health and it was just so horrifying to learn how callously the researchers/medical community treated her/her family.


Thanks for putting this list together, Carly. I have definitely added some great titles to my TBR pile! I just starting a book that is not on your list called the The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and it is sooo good so far. I recommend it even though I am not finished!

Brittany H

I loved Such a Fun Age.. and I second the cringeworthy parts! I was a nanny during grad school and the nanny/mom dynamic is weird no matter how you spin it.


An American Marriage was so great! The writing was so real and special and it added such authenticity to the story. I felt like I could tell it was written by a Black author if that makes sense. Like when you can tell a man is trying to write a female character and it just isn’t working? This was the opposite.