Books to Read This Black History Month


Top Left to Bottom Right: Concrete Rose; The Color Purple; The Vanishing Half; Brown Girl Dreaming; The Fire Next Time; The Gilded Ones

Morgan C.

Concrete Rose—Angie Thomas

By the author of The Hate U Give, this recently released novel returns to Garden Heights seventeen years before Thomas’ first book. Similarly to The Hate U Give, it handles heavy topics, such as having a parent in prison, drug dealing, and becoming a teen father. Angie Thomas has been praised for her delicate yet harshly realistic handling of racial issues in her past books, and no doubt will be again.

The Color Purple—Alice Walker

Originally published in 1983, this epistolary novel features two sisters separated as children. In addition to racial issues, it was one of the first popular novels to discuss sexual assault. It also features a lesbian main character and was the first Pulitzer Prize winner written by a black woman. 

The Vanishing Half—Brit Bennett

On the subject of separated sisters, The Vanishing Half tells the story of a pair of twins, one of whom raises her family in their predominantly black hometown, while the other passes for white and leaves her old life behind. The novel was a Goodreads Choice Winner, Book of the Month’s Book of the Year for 2020, and has spent 36 weeks on the NYT bestseller list and counting.

Brown Girl Dreaming—Jacqueline Woodson

In this unique blend of poetry and memoir, Woodson relives her childhood in the 1960’s and 70’s. She creates a vivid image of what it was like to grow up as a black girl in the aftermath of the Jim Crow laws and how she became increasingly aware of the civil rights movement. Woodson’s elegant writing combined with her beautiful storytelling ability create a truly touching memoir.

The Fire Next Time—James Baldwin

Written by novelist, essayist, poet, playwright, and social critic, James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time is an essential for anyone that cares about civil rights. It comments on the effects of racial injustice and on Baldwin’s early life in Harlem. First published in 1963, it is believed to have had a major role in pushing the civil rights movement forward. 

The Gilded Ones—Namina Forna

To end on a lighter note, The Gilded Ones is a beautiful fantasy novel in a world based on African mythology and culture. It creates a wonderful change of pace from the very European-centric genre. This book is Forna’s first novel, and is the first of a trilogy.

Check out the list on Goodreads.