Just in case you missed it, here are some of my favorite books, that happen to be written by Black authors.
This is one of my top reads of the last several years, a trilogy of science fiction novellas by Nnedi Okorafor. The first was recommended by a friend of mine who had attended a panel at a book convention on Black authors, and I suggested it for my book club. We all were blown away. I was kinda gushing in my review post:
Why haven’t you read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor yet? Don’t have time? It’s a novella; it will take you an afternoon; read Binti while you are deciding what book to start next. You already have your favorite authors? Diversify yourself. The fantasy/sci-fi genre is full of talented white men, it can only become richer with more authors like Nigerian-American Nnedi Okorafor. You’re picky? I’m recommending it! Plus, it won the Hugo and Nebula awards. (You know, if that’s more meaningful or something.) Then read Home and The Night Masquerade too.
The Hate U Give was a powerful look at race, class, and police brutality in America. Although I usually read fantasy/science fiction novels, this was a selection for my book club looking to read more diverse books. It sparked an intense discussion on diversity.
We talked about our experiences being pulled over by police and how, although worried, we were never afraid for our lives or our children’s. We talked about how hard it is to be a teen without society treating you like shit. And we talked about how we wished our children weren’t reading the out-dated, discussion-killing books they are given in school, and instead were given The Hate U Give to have their own discussions on how to become compassionate activists for positive change in our country.
You can read more about the book and that discussion as part of Between the Bookends feature here.
By Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome
Game Changers is a picture book for all ages. It is the very honest and inspiring story of Venus and Serena, tennis super champions and written by a Black author and illustrator.
Anyone who says, “If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything!” is privileged or delusional. There are plenty of people who work hard all their lives and never come close to success. For women and people of color, it takes hard work just to get to the starting line. Game Changers is a picture book about two women of color who not only started but won. The question is, how?
Hungry Hearts is all diverse voices, including Black authors. Every story is different so it’s hard to sum it up, except don’t read it on an empty stomach…
The moods and styles may change from tale to tale, but the location grounds them into a bigger idea: a place where soup can make you bold or a specific plate of chicken can mean you will die. There are ghost stories and love stories, tales of triumph or horror. And so much food!
Nima is a teenager on the outskirts of high school society, but she’s ok with that since she has a best friend who is even more awkward than she is. Nima is in love with her only other friend, a pretty and popular girl who is not interested in Nima that way. Feeling stuck and out of place, Nima happens upon a drag King and Queen show on the night of the town’s festival.
This book is an upbeat coming of age novel about a queer girl in a small town. You can read more here on Between the Bookends:
Although this is not a novel, it is full of diverse authors creating characters to use for RPG campaigns. I was so excited to share this with my gaming group to help us bring our imaginary worlds into color.
…it can be a challenge for the average GM to feel comfortable creating diverse Non-Playing Characters without coming off as insulting or trying too hard. Enter Friends, Foes, and Other Fine Folks: a downloadable guide to 58 diverse NPCs for 5th edition D&D, but can be adapted to other RPGs. It’s fantasy so there is no limit to the diverse elements of gender, orientation, physical and mental disabilities, body shapes and traits, age, and skin color.
Kindred By Octavia E. Butler
Now, for a classic sci-fi novel written by one of the greatest writers of our time, read Kindred. I only just picked it up a couple of years ago for my book club and we all needed to talk about it so much:
Our discussion was plenty about the book itself, but then trailed into a heartfelt discussion about slavery in America and race issues today, which then brought us to the literary topic of cultural diversity in our favorite genres. Octavia E. Butler is a well-known and lauded science-fiction author. She happens to be African-American and a woman—a standout for awards and notoriety in speculative fiction. Kindred was written forty years ago (although there is a new graphic novel version). I wondered about now…
If you are excited about diversifying your reading selection, or just want to read some amazing tales, A.J. did a roundup of some more great books to check out. Happy reading!