Top Those Bestseller Lists With These Important Books by Black Authors

Michelle Obama
Photo: Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock.

Scroll To See More Images

As protesters continue showing up to demand racial justice on the street, it’s still our job at home to keep up the fight. One seemingly small yet major way to show your support for the Black Lives Matter movement is as simple as picking up these books by Black authors. They don’t even have to be traditionally anti-racist reads (but keep buying those, too)—just know that it’s equally important to support writing that features Black life, Black joy, and Black families beyond the struggle. Lucky for you, there are also tons of options there.

Many of these books are recent releases and fan favorites that could use the extra love right now—especially if we’re trying to land them on bestsellers lists. On June 14, Amistad Press launched a new hashtag campaign #BlackoutBestsellerList and #BlackPublishingPower to prove to the publishing world that books by Black authors matter. The multicultural HarperCollins imprint announced their initiative via a Tweet that reads: “To demonstrate our power and clout in the publishing industry, June 14 – June 20, we encourage you to purchase any two books by Black Writers. Our goal is to Blackout Bestseller lists with Black Voices.”

Tracy Sherrod, editorial director of Amistad, spoke to Publishers Weekly about the campaign’s goal to highlight Black authors and prove that consumers value their work. “I think that we still have to prove to the publishing industry that we—Black book consumers—are a large and vibrant market and that we’re interested in books,” Sherrod told the outlet on June 15. “It still seems like we have to prove this.”

So, get ready to prove it to ’em. Keep on reading for 10 recommended books by Black authors to pick up in support of #BlackoutBestsellerList and beyond. And why not purchase them from a Black-owned bookstore while you’re at it? Below we’ve included purchase links via Bookshop.org, which will send the full profits of your purchase to a local bookstore of your choosing. Let the book haul begin!

1. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Leah-Johnson-You-Should-See-Crown

Scholastic Press. June 2020.

Leah Johnson’s YA gem follows a Black queer girl with anxiety who ends up running for prom queen, all so that she can get a scholarship to attend her dream school. But she still has to find the confidence to win and compete against her newfound crush. Honestly, we’re already waiting for this heartwarming debut by Johnson to get its own movie, à la The Half of It.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing. 

2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped-Jason-Reynolds-Ibram-Kendi

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. March 2020.

If you’re hung up by the terminology in many anti-racist texts or you’re simply looking for a more accessible read for yourself and your kids—Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s “remix” of Stamped is a great place to start. They prove that a hard topic can still be approachable to all readers.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing. 

3. Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBridge

Deacon-King-Kong-James-McBride

Riverhead Books.

Oprah’s latest book club pick doesn’t contain any of the messiness of that whole American Dirt scandal. Deacon King Kong is a multicultural vision of Brooklyn, NY, crafted by an author who’s lived and breathed it himself—National Book Award winner and jazz musician, James McBride.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing. 

4. These Ghosts Are Family: A Novel by Maisy Card

These-Ghosts-Are-Family-Maisy-Card

Simon & Schuster. March 2020.

Another debut on the list, Maisy Card’s These Ghosts Are Family unravels a major family secret kept quiet from the days of colonial Jamaica to modern-day Harlem. The ghosts of the past might look and behave differently to readers beyond the Caribbean and its diaspora, which is only all the more reason to get acquainted.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing. 

5. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

Hood-Feminism-Mikki-Kendall

Viking. February 2020.

Essential reading for the white feminist, the mainstream feminist, the feminist with branded coffee mugs or totes that read “feminist.” Mikki Kendall has done the hard work of revealing how feminism in its popular status has often failed to include Black women, and how we should all listen to their expertise moving forward.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing. 

6. The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Daré

The-Girl-With-the-Louding-Voice-Abi-Dare

Penguin Publishing Group. February 2020.

There are still forms of slavery in practice around the world today, and one of them is domestic in nature. For Abi Daré’s debut, she tells the story of one such instance. Adunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl, is stuck in her duties as a housemaid—and she is willing to do anything if it means escaping for an education.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing. 

7. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston

Hitting-a-Straight-Lick-with-a-Crooked-Stick-Stories-from-the-Harlem-Renaissance-by-Zora-Neale-Hurston

Amistad. January 2020.

From the incredible Zora Neale Hurston, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick emerges as another modern compilation of some of her finest tales. The collection also includes eight “lost” Harlem Renaissance stories that many readers will be able to enjoy for the first time.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing. 

8. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline-Woodson-Red-at-the-Bone

Penguin Publishing Group. September 2019.

Woodson’s latest has already earned her comparisons to the great Toni Morrison. With the aching journey of Red at the Bone, it’s easy to see why: This novel is at once a coming-of-age story, as much as it is a winding family elegy that taps into dramas far beyond its protagonist’s teen pregnancy.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing.

9. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming-Michelle-Obama

Crown Publishing Group. November 2018.

If you still haven’t picked up the former first lady’s memoir yet, now’s truly the time. Michelle’s story is that of Black womanhood, of an American girl’s roots, and of a leader beyond the limelight.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing.

10. This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender

Kacen-Callender-Love-Story

Balzer + Bray. October 2018.

More Black queer joy coming your way from Kacen Callender. This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story follows two childhood friends who suddenly find themselves loving each other—and not in a platonic way. Callender’s novel manages to do what other rom-com stories might shy away from: Its characters are complex—sometimes frustratingly so—and the result is a story that feels as honest as possible.

Purchase via Bookshop.org to support a local Black-owned book store of your choosing.

StyleCaster Entertainment News Letter

Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to the people, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

share