You always ought to celebrate Black listeners (not only during Black history month, you all), and black literature is among the greatest methods to honor a number of their community’s most famous stories. As a result of the work of African American writers, the entire world can better understand the conflicts and triumphs of Black folks in the USA.
So How many Best African American Books are there? And What book should I read?
From artists that are wise such as Maya Angelou to fresh voices such as Marlon James and Kiley Reid, and leaders such as the Obamas, we have assembled a number of the most important books to read by Black writers to enhance your reading record.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top Rated Best Books by Black Authors To Read
- 1.1 The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- 1.2 Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks
- 1.3 Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
- 1.4 Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
- 1.5 The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
- 1.6 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- 1.7 The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- 1.8 How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
- 1.9 Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
- 1.10 Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 by W. E. B. Du Bois
- 1.11 Kindred by Octavia Butler
- 1.12 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- 1.13 Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
- 1.14 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- 1.15 New Daughters of Africa by Margaret Busby
- 1.16 The Farm: A Novel by Joanne Ramos
- 1.17 Beloved by Toni Morrison
- 1.18 Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- 1.19 The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- 1.20 Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
- 1.21 The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Alex Haley
- 1.22 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- 1.23 Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
- 1.24 Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
- 1.25 The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- 1.26 The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
- 1.27 The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
- 1.28 It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan.
- 1.29 Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- 1.30 Native Son by Richard Wright
- 1.31 Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
- 1.32 Sula by Toni Morrison
- 1.33 Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, Ishmael Reed
- 1.34 Who Set are You Flowin’? : The African-American Migration Narrative by Farah Jasmine Griffin
- 1.35 Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
Top Rated Best Books by Black Authors To Read
Below are the best books by African American authors that Pennbook recommended reading:
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is a classic. With more than a million copies sold in the United Kingdom alone, it’s hailed as one of the all-time greats’ of literature, inspiring generations of readers.
Place in the deep American South between the wars, it’s the narrative of Celie, a young black woman born to poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the guy she calls’ dad’, she’s two kids removed from her, is separated from her husband Nettie, and can be trapped in an ugly union.
But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer, and magic-maker – a girl who has taken control of her fate. Gradually, Celie finds the energy and pleasure of her spirit, freeing her previous and reuniting her with all those she loves. This is one of the best African American fiction books to read.
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks
A groundbreaking work of feminist history and theory examining the intricate connections between various kinds of oppression. Ain’t that I am Woman analyzes the effects of sexism on black women during slavery, the historic devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism inside the current women’s movement, and black women’s participation with feminism.
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
A group of fifteen essays written between 1976 and 1984 provides a clear voice to Audre Lorde’s literary and literary personae. These experiments explore and illuminate the origins of Lorde’s intellectual advancement and also her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about methods of raising empowerment among minority women authors and the sheer necessity to explain the idea of distinction -gap based on gender, race, and financial standing.
The name Sister Outsider finds its origin in her poetry collection The Black Unicorn (1978). These poems as well as also the essays from Sister Outsider stress Lorde’s oft-stated subject of persistence, particularly of their geographic and intellectual connection between Dahomey, Africa, and her emerging self.
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) put in a hospital, near death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and national authorities tried to question her regarding the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike which had claimed the life of a snowy state trooper. Long a goal of J. Edgar Hoover’s effort to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black governmental organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four decades before her conviction on circumstantial signs in 1977 as an accomplice to murder.
This intensely political and personal autobiography belies the fearsome picture of JoAnne Chesimard long projected from the media and the nation. With humor and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the adventures that led her into a lifetime of activism and defines the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual death of Black and White revolutionary groups in the hands of police officers.
The outcome is a signal contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America which has taken its place alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and also the functions of Maya Angelou. Two years following her conviction, Assata Shakur escaped from prison. She had been awarded political asylum from Cuba, where she resides.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was murdered. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina-a town that holds the key to her mother’s past.
Founded by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced into their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable book about divine female power; the narrative women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.
Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave a passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the publication is an intensely private and provocative record.
It consists of 2 ” letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, which encourages Americans, both white and black, to assault the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle…all introduced in searing, colorful prose,” The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
Jones’s bestselling memoir is a personal account of growing up in the South as a young gay man who is trying to locate himself while fighting rocky relationships with relatives, friends, and fans.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Being called among the greatest books of this year, James’ epic dream honors African American history and mythology. Inside, a priest called Tracker must locate a mysterious lost boy with the support of a rag-tag set of mercenaries. The first of a planned trilogy, some are calling the “African Game of Thrones.” And Black Panther celebrity Michael B. Jordan earned the movie rights to the book through his production company, Outlier Society.
Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 by W. E. B. Du Bois
The pioneering work in the study of the role of Black Americans during Reconstruction by the most influential Black intellectual of his time.
This pioneering work was the first full-length study of the role black Americans played in the crucial period after the Civil War when the slaves had been freed and the attempt was made to reconstruct American society. Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880 has justly been called a classic and one of the best African American history books to read.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
In what’s considered a literary masterpiece and Butler’s most popular book, Kindred follows a young Black girl named Dana. Though she resides in 1976 L.A., she has suddenly been transported to a Civil War-era farm in Maryland. Shortly, the more often Dana travels back in time, the longer she remains, as she confronts dangers that endanger her life later on.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Written by a mythical author, civil rights activist, and a few of Oprah’s best friends, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an analytic memoir that catches Angelou’s childhood struggles along with the liberty of her maturity, which enabled her to locate strength amidst grief.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
At a re-imagining of this traditional German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, a girl named Harriet narrates her source story to her daughter Perdita. She creates a mysterious gingerbread that is incredibly common in Harriet’s charming hometown of Druhástrana. And it is especially adored by her childhood best buddy: Gretel.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Half-sisters Effia and Esi are created in two different cities in 18th century Ghana. One marries a British slaver, while the other is sold into slavery and sent to America. Gyasi’s prose follows the descendants and generations that follow.
New Daughters of Africa by Margaret Busby
A company to Busby’s 1992 anthology “Daughters of Africa,” this compilation of literature includes writing from 200 girls of African descent such as Andrea Levy, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ayòbámi Adébáyò, Warsan Shire, and Zadie Smith.
The Farm: A Novel by Joanne Ramos
There is a reason the book has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale – it follows dire girls who’ve been allowed the opportunity to live in luxury in exchange to be surrogates to the planet’s wealthiest people.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a girl haunted by the past.
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen decades later she’s still not free. She’s borne the unthinkable and not gone insane, yet she’s still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the gorgeous farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile, Sethe’s home has been bothered by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died namelessly and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and the lives around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling himself Beloved, Sethe’s horrible secret explodes to the present.
Combining the creative power of legend using the unassailable fact of background, Morrison’s special publication is just one of those great and enduring works of American literature.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
At a profound job that emanates in the most extensive questions about American ideals and history into the most romantic concerns of a father for his child, Ta-Nehisi Coates provides a robust new framework for understanding that our country’s history and present catastrophe.
Americans have built an empire on the notion of “race,” a falsehood that hurts us but falls most heavily in the lifestyles of black men and women -bodies manipulated via slavery and segregation, as well as now, threatened, locked up, and killed from all proportion. What’s it like to occupy a dark body and find a way to live inside? And how do we honestly guess with this fraught background and liberated ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me will be Ta-Nehisi Coates’s effort to answer those questions in a letter to his teenage son. Coates shares his son-and viewers – the story of his awakening to the fact about his location on earth using a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, by the South Side of Chicago to Paris, by his childhood home to the living rooms of moms whose children’s lives were shot as American plunder.
Beautifully woven from a personal story, reimagined background, and refreshing, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me, definitely articulates the past, bracingly faces our gift, also supplies a transcendent vision for a way ahead.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”
Since the United States celebrates the country’s “victory over race” with the election of Barack Obama, nearly all young black guys in major Western cities have been secured behind bars or happen to be tagged felons for life. Although Jim Crow legislation is wiped off the books, an astonishing proportion of the African American community remains trapped in a low position – similar to their grandparents.
In this short article review, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively asserts that we haven’t ended racial caste in America: we’ve just redesigned it. Alexander indicates that, by targeting black guys and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system acts as a modern system of racial management, even as it officially adheres to the principle of color blindness.
The New Jim Crow battles the civil rights community-and most of us-to put bulk incarceration at the forefront of a new racial justice movement in the USA.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Jesmyn Ward’s 2011 novel Salvage the Bones merges fiction with her real-life experience surviving Hurricane Katrina as a native of rural Mississippi. Ward tells a new story through the eyes of Esch, a pregnant teenage girl who lives in poverty with her three brothers and a father who is battling alcoholism in a fictional town called Bois Sauvage.
Through this National Book Award-winning tale, Ward writes an emotionally intense and deep account about a family who must find a way to overcome differences and stick together to survive the passing storm.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Alex Haley
Throughout a lifetime of battle and passion, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his trip from a prison cell into Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim Union. Here, the guy who called himself “the angriest Black man in America” relates how his transformation to authentic Islam helped him face his anger and comprehend the brotherhood of humanity.
A recognized classic of modern America, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” was hailed by the New York Times as “Extraordinary. A brilliant, painful, important book.” Nevertheless, extraordinary, nevertheless significant, this electrifying story has changed Malcolm X’s lifetime into his heritage. The potency of his voice, the energy of his ideas continue to resonate over a generation when they appeared. This is among the best African American nonfiction books for reading.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first book; a book heralded because of its abundance of speech and boldness of vision. Located in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of shameful, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so she will be beautiful and cherished as most of the blonde, blue-eyed children in the USA.
In the fall of 1941, the year that the marigolds from the Breedloves’ backyard didn’t blossom. Pecola’s life does shift – in debilitating, catastrophic ways.
Its vivid evocation of the fear and isolation in the core of a child’s yearning, the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye stays among Toni MoMorrison’sost strong, unforgettable books – and a substantial work of American fiction.
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Milkman Dead was created soon after a locality bizarre hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the remainder of his life that he, too, will soon be attempting to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age narrative as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez.
Since she follows Milkman out of his Rustbeltity into the location of the family’s roots, Morrison presents a whole cast of strivers, seeresses, liars, and assassins, the people of a fully recognized black universe.
Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small and parents suffer addictions to the white rocks. Yet there is magic . . . everywhere. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor.
Each day, Echo travels between two worlds, leaving her brothers, her friends, and a piece of herself behind on the East Side. There are dangers to leaving behind the place that made you. Echo soon realizes there is pain flowing through everyone around her, and a black veil of depression threatens to undo everything she’s worked for.
Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism – all through the arc of a transcendent coming-of-age. This is one of the best books for African American young adults to read.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Three ordinary girls are just about to take one great measure.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has only returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She might have a diploma. However, it’s 1962, Mississippi, and her mom won’t be happy until Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would generally find solace together with her beloved maid Constantine, the girl who raised her, but Constantine has vanished, and nobody will inform Skeeter where she’s gone.
Aibileen is a maid, a sensible, royal woman raising her white kid. Something has changed in her following the loss of her son, who died while his managers looked another way. She’s dedicated to the small woman she looks after, although she understands both their hearts might be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s closest buddy, is fat, and possibly the sassiest girl in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can not hear her tongue; she has lost another job. Minny eventually finds a position working for somebody too new to the city to understand her standing. However, her new boss has secrets of her own.
Apparently, as distinct from one another as may be, these girls will come together to get a covert project that will place all of them in danger. And why? Since they’re suffocating inside the lines which specify their city and their occasions. And occasionally lines are designed to be crossed.
From pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett generates three exceptional women whose decision to begin a motion of their very own forever changes a city, and how girls, moms, daughters, caregivers, friends, see one another. A profoundly moving novel full of poignancy, humor, and hope, The Aid is a timeless and universal story about the traces we all abide by, and those we do not.
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
This landmark publication is a heritage work in the literature of black protest. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) played an essential role in creating the plan and program that dominated ancient 20th-century black protest in the USA.
Within this collection of essays, first published collectively in 1903, he wholeheartedly supports that it’s beneath the dignity of a human being to beg for all those rights which belong inherent to all humankind. He also charges that the plan of accommodation to white supremacy improved by Booker T. Washington, then the most powerful black leader in the united states, could only serve to perpetuate black oppression.
The Souls of Black Folk was a spectacular event that helped polarize black leaders into two classes: the conservative followers of Washington along with also the radical supporters of competitive protest. Its influence cannot be overstated. It’s vital reading for everybody considering African-American history and the battle for civil rights in the USA.
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
(Brewster Place #1)
In her first publication, Gloria Naylor weaves together the stories of seven women living in Brewster Place, a gloomy inner-city sanctuary, developing a strong, moving portrait of their strengths, struggles, and hopes of black girls in the USA. Vulnerable and resilient, open-handed, and open-hearted, these girls invent their own lives in a location that subsequently threatens and protects-a more frequent prison and also a shared residence.
Naylor leaves both painful and loving human experiences with easy eloquence and rare intuition. Her remarkable sense of history and community makes The Women of Brewster Place a modern classic-along with a satisfying and memorable read.
It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan.
Waiting to Exhale’s Terry McMillan tells the story of Loretha, a 68-year-old girl whose life is filled with precious friends, lasting romance, along with a flourishing organization. However, when a sudden reduction causes her to question her positive outlook in life, Loretha needs to collect all her power to push through heartbreak.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her person – no mean feat for a black woman in the ’30s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.
Native Son by Richard Wright
Right from the beginning, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It might have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white girl in a brief moment of fear.
Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities throughout the nation and of what it means to be black in America.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
(The Autobiographies #1)
Born a slave in 1818 on a farm in Maryland, Douglass taught himself to read and write. In 1845, seven years after escaping into the North, he printed Narrative, the very first of three autobiographies.
This publication calmly but radically recounts the horrors and the achievements of his early years-that the everyday, casual brutality of the white masters; his painful attempts to teach himself; his choice to find liberty or perish; along with his harrowing but successful escape.
An astounding orator and a skillful writer, Douglass became a newspaper editor, a political activist, and an eloquent spokesperson for the civil rights of African Americans. He lived through the Civil War, the end of slavery, and also the Start of segregation. He had been renowned globally as the leading black intellectual of his day, and his story resonates with ours.
Sula by Toni Morrison
This rich and moving novel traces the lives of two black heroines in their close-knit youth in a small Ohio town, through their sharply divergent paths of womanhood, to their ultimate confrontation and reconciliation.
Nel Wright has chosen to remain in the area where she had been born, to marry, raise a family, and become a pillar of the black community. Sula Peace has resisted the lifetime Nel has adopted, escaping to school, and submerging herself in town life. If she returns to her roots, then it’s as a rebel and a wanton seductress.
Finally, both girls need to confront the consequences of their own choices. Collectively, they create a memorable portrait of what it means and prices for a black woman in the USA.
Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, Ishmael Reed
Booker T. Washington, the most recognized nationwide leader, orator, and teacher, emerged from captivity from the deep south, to operate for the improvement of African Americans from the post-Reconstruction period.
“Up From Slavery” is an autobiography of Booker T. Washington’s life and work, that has become the source of inspiration for many Americans. Washington shows his innermost thoughts because he changes from ex-slave to instructor and creator of one of the most significant colleges for African Americans from the south, The Tuskegee Industrial Institute.
Who Set are You Flowin’? : The African-American Migration Narrative by Farah Jasmine Griffin
In African American literature, the servant story was the significant genre of the nineteenth century. “Who Set are You Flowing?” Asserts that the twentieth-century lack artists-novelists, musicians, and painters -generated new cultural forms in reaction to not only segregation but also, two waves of migration in the South into the North and the West.
We view migration’s effects on audio, such as Stevie Wonder’sLiving for the City, and visual artists, for Example, at Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series. Additionally, it is evident in books. In literature, the migration story has its own set of tropes, themes, and even types.
Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
When he had been a boy at Henning, Tennessee, Alex Haley’s grandma used to tell him stories about their loved ones -stories which went straight back to her grandparents. and their grandparents down throughout the generations all of the ways into a man she called “the African.” She said he’d lived throughout the sea close to what he called the “Camby Bolongo” and was out in the woods one-day chopping wood to produce a drum when he had been set upon by four men, beaten, chained, and hauled aboard a slave ship bound for Colonial America.
Still vividly recalling the tales once he grew up and became a writer, Haley started to look for documentation that may authenticate the story. It required ten decades plus a half-million miles of traveling across three continents to find it.
Still, in a great effort of genealogical detective work, he found not only the title of “the African”- Kunta Kinte-but the exact place of Juffure, the village in The Gambia, West Africa. Where he had been abducted in 1767 at age sixteen, and took that Lord Ligonier into Maryland and sold into a Virginia planter.
Haley has spoken in Juffure together with his very own African American sixth cousins. On September 29, 1967, he stood on the pier at Annapolis in which his great-great-great-great-grandfather was taken back on September 29, 1767. Today he’s composed the monumental two-century play of Kunta Kinte and also the six generations that came after him-slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, timber mill employees and Pullman porters, architects and attorneys – and one writer.
However, Haley has done over to recapture the history of their family. Since the first black American author to follow his roots back to their origins, he’s told the story of 25,000,000 Americans of African Americans. He’s rediscovered for a whole people with rich cultural heritage that slavery took off from them, together with their names and their identities.
But Roots talks, ultimately, not only to blacks to whites but all people and all races everywhere, for the story it tells is among the very eloquent testimonials written to the indomitability of the human soul.
Last update on 2021-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API