Five Must Read Books by Black Women as Recommended by The Book Alert, in honour of UK Black History Month
Whenever I share my annual top reads of the year list, my list is always dominated by Black women authored books. Simply put, some of the best books I have read have been written by Black women. I have always been an avid reader but growing up, I did not always feel represented or seen in the stories I read. It has been a joy to see the rise of stories with characters with names like my own, described in ways similar to what I see everyday when I look in the mirror.
Despite the rise in Black women writers in mainstream literature, a large proportion of readers still do not read diversely. This point is emphasised by a question I was recently asked by a colleague. She had asked me to recommend a book by a Black author as it “had been forever since I have read one” and “I just don’t know where to start.” Black authors are more visible than ever before but there is still a long way to go in Black literature - especially literature not centred on race and trauma - becoming more mainstream.
From Nigerian literature centred on complex family dynamics and parental expectations to modern African American literature, there is a book out there for every reader in every genre. You just need to find it!
And so, here are five books by Black women that I consider to be must reads. You can thank me later.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - historical fiction
A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and America. Two half sisters, Effia and Esi are born into different villages in the eighteenth century. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia and her descendants while the other follows Esi. Two sisters with two very different lives.
The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare - contemporary fiction
Adunni is a fourteen year old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. However, as the only daughter of a broke father, she is a valuable commodity. When she is sold as the third wife to an older man, tragedy strikes and her life is changed forever.
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson - historical fiction
This harrowing story follows an enslaved woman - a mixed race woman, born to an enslaved Black American and the master of the house - who is forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.
Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola - short story collection romance
In her debut collection, Bolu Babalola retells the most beautiful love stories from history - from Greek mythology to West African folklore - with new detail and modern charm.
Maame by Jessica George - contemporary fiction
Maame has many meanings in Twi but in Maddie’s case it means woman. From a young age, Maddie has been called Maame and in doing so, she has been forced to grow up before her time. She is subservient and submissive but she is now on a mission to take control of her life and break loose from the expectations placed upon her.
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