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Books To Read This Black History Month.

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Books To Read This Black History Month.

From popular YA to bestselling memoirs and biographies, there’s a lot of seminal and inspirational books from Black authors to celebrate year-round. And learning about Black history isn’t just for one month a year – so although we’re celebrating and coming together to discuss Black achievements and struggles alike right now, I’m about to give you so many book recommendations that you’re going to still be reading well into June of next year.

FICTION

Image description: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas | Available at the Augustine House Library

  • A bestselling young adult novel inspired by Black Lives Matter movement and remained on the New York Times bestsellers list for 80 weeks.
  • About a girl struggling with inequality, police violence and getting justice for her friend.

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett | Available at the CCCU Bookshop

  • Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month, May 2021; an exploration in history of passing.
  • Estranged identical twin sisters leading two very different lives; one with her Black daughter in their hometown, and the other secretly passing for white, her husband none the wiser.

Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams | Available at the Augustine House Library and CCCU Bookshop

  • A new adult novel covering a variety of issues from mental health, to race, consent and class.
  • A funny, fresh story about a woman caught between her Jamaican-British family and a man she just can’t seem to get over.

Beloved, Toni Morrison | Available at the Augustine House Library and CCCU Bookshop

  • A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel; part reflection on the horrors of slavery, part ghost story, a story set after the American Civil War about a woman abandoned by her sons, left only with her daughter and the trauma of slavery that haunts her.

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Available at the Augustine House Library and CCCU Bookshop

  • Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction Winner of Winners 2020.
  • A novel about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race, an epic love story set amidst the Nigerian Civil War.
Image description: The Complete Stories by Alice Walker

The Complete Stories, Alice Walker | Available at the Augustine House Library

  • Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning modern classic, The Colour Purple, about white racism and violent Black patriarchy in the early twentieth century.
  • Collected stories from her long career, about love, race and politics.

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernadine Evaristo | Available at the Augustine House Library and CCCU Bookshop

  • Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020
  • Tracking a dozen lives of mostly black British women through generations and social classes in modern Britain.

My Sister, The Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithewaite | Available at the CCCU Bookshop

  • A novel that turns the tables on the woman-as-a-victim trope, a smart and funny take on the serial murder-thriller, while also exploring sisterhood in an oppressive and patriarchal society.

Legendborn, Tracy Deonn | Available at the CCCU Bookshop

  • A hit young adult fantasy debut about a secret society, a mystery, and Southern Black Girl Magic.
Image description: Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo sat next to a selection of Malorie Blackman books in the AH Library

The Black Flamingo, Dean Atta | Available at the Augustine House Library

  • A young adult verse novel about a Black gay teenager finding himself through drag.

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid | Available at the CCCU Bookshop

  • A novel about a Black babysitter apprehended for ‘kidnapping’ the white child she’s babysitting, and the relationship with her white liberal elite employer; a debut about gender and privilege in twenty-first century America.

Little & Lion, Brandy Colbert

  • A young adult coming of age novel about a Black Jewish girl, her step-brother who’s recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and what happens when you fall for the same girl as your brother.

NON-FICTION

Image description: A number of non-fiction books at the Black History Month stall at AH Library

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, Afua Hirsch | Available at the Augustine House Library and CCCU Bookshop

  • A personal favourite, the Sunday Times bestseller about race and identity in modern Britain, and a look into Britain’s imperial past and how that still effects who we are today.

The Autobiography of Malcom X, Alex Haley and Malcom X

  • Both an inspirational figure and a controversial one, Malcom X’s autobiography details his life from drug addiction and armed violence, to prison-time conversion to Islam and his experience afterwards as an outspoken defender of Muslim doctrines, hope and self-respect for Black Americans.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou | Available at the Augustine House Library and CCCU Bookshop

  • The first and best known of Maya Angelou’s seven extraordinary autobiographies.
  • A memoir recounting Angelou’s youth as a Black girl in the Deep South in the 1930s, both the joys and abuses she was subjected to.

Becoming, Michelle Obama | Available at the Augustine House Library and CCCU Bookshop

  • A reflection of Michelle Obama’s life from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to her rising in her career and eventual time living in the White House.

All About Love, bell hooks

  • Exploring the question ‘What is love?’ and finding an answer in something redemptive, sacred and healing; that only love can heal social divisions and bring us together as a community.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Audre Lorde | Available at the CCCU Bookshop

  • The autobiography of iconic poet Audre Lorde; a combination of biography, history and myth, and a love letter to the Black women in Lorde’s life.

How We Fight For Our Lives, Saeed Jones | Available at the CCCU Bookshop

  • 2019 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction Winner, the memoir of how Jones – a Black, gay man from the American South – had to fight to claim his identity.

POETRY

Image description: Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks

Selected Poems, Gwendolyn Brooks | Available at the Augustine House Library

  • Contains a number of her most famous poems from across her numerous books, including:
  • The Bean Eaters, which was written during the early years of the Civil Rights movement and refused to shy away from difficult topics like educational integration and lynching.
  • Featuring one of my favourite poems, We Real Cool.

African American Poetry: A Library of America Anthology, selected by Kevin Young

  • A collection of living heritage, exploring the African Diaspora and the complex bonds between poets of different times and places.
  • Includes work from Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, Jean Toomer and more.

Black Girl, Call Home, Jasmine Mans

  • From a spoken word poet, poetry on the experience of being a Black girl, on feminism and queer identity.

Call Us What We Carry, Amanda Gorman | Available at the CCCU Bookshop

  • The debut collection from the bestseller and presidential inaugural poet, including The Hill We Climb.
  • On grief, memory, hope and healing.

More Fiya: A New Collection of Black British Poetry, Kayo Chingonyi

  • A celebration of Black British poetry; a mixtape of cross generational poets and experiences.

Have I missed your favourite book? Let us know in the comments and share what books you think others should be reading! We’re always open to more recommendations!

Finally, the CCCU Bookshop has a Black Lives Matter collection you can peruse online, while Augustine House has a ground floor Black History Month display plus a curated list if you’re a online library user of Overdrive or Libby.

By Bethany Climpson, Sustainability Engagement Assistant

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