Happy Saturday, book lovers! In light of recent events, I’ve been evaluating my TBR (to-be-read list) and adding more books about race or books written by POC (person-of-color) authors. In this day and age, I believe it’s more important than ever to be supporting POC authors and reading books about racism so we can grow as human beings and become more sympathetic.
Today, I’ve compiled a list of books either about race or written by POC authors (I’ll differentiate which!) that you can refer to as a resource list and hopefully discover new books to add to your personal TBR! Some of these I have read, while others are on my immediate to-buy or to-borrow list. I hope you find this helpful, and if you have other recommendations for me and the other readers checking out this post, please drop a comment below!
Everything Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (POC Author)
No surprise this book is at the top of my list, eh? Yoon is originally from Jamaica and uses her experiences to write POC characters that will completely steal your heart. Her storytelling is vivid, raw, and easy to dive into. I read Everything Everything in a day, if I’m remembering correctly, and it’s become one of my all-time favorite books since.
Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson (Books About Race)
This is a book about race set in my home state of North Carolina. It’s a shocking read about a small town’s struggles with racism and the events that follow. I had to write a report on this for college back in the day, and it’s one of the only college books I’ve kept with me since. It’s a heartbreaking but very eye-opening and needed narrative that correlates with today’s world.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (POC Author)
Probably one of the most notorious YA reads of our time, especially since it discusses police brutality against Black people. This is high up on my TBR to get to now. Originally I was nervous about reading it because I have family that currently serves in the police force, but thanks to some great reports from friends who have read it, I am very excited to finally pick this book up. I want to be sure I have honest, raw perspectives from both sides, and that means pushing myself to read narratives that are going to be hard to accept at first. If you’re looking to do the same, a lot of people recommend starting with this book first and foremost.
Dread Nation by Christina Ireland (POC Author)
While I haven’t read this book, it just sounds absolutely amazing. I won’t butcher the synopsis for you; instead I’ll copy and paste from Goodreads so you can see for yourself:
“Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.”
Pride by Ibi Zoboi (POC Author)
Another book that sounds amazing and deserves a copy/pasted synopsis so I don’t mess it up:
“Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.
In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.”
I’ve heard excellent things about this book particularly, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Smash It! by Francina Simone (POC Author)
I have heard RAVING reviews from Amara Luciano on both Instagram and Facebook about her friend’s new book, Smash It! It sounds fantastic, and it comes highly recommended, so I feel like I just have to grab it when I get the chance! Synopsis (LANGUAGE WARNING for my more sensitive readers):
“Refreshingly authentic and bold . . . a smashing #ownvoices novel from popular BookTuber Francina Simone!
Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does. She makes a list—a F*ck It list.
Be bold—do the things that scare me.
Learn to take a compliment.
Stand out instead of back.
Now she’s got a part in her school’s musical production of Othello, new friends and the attention of three very different boys. In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer is . . . a lot. #SMASHIT”
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (POC Author)
Finally, if you’re looking for a super quirky, rom-com read, this one has caught my eye! Synopsis:
“Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?
• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.
But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…”
Other Honorable Mentions Recommended to Me…
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (POC Author)
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (Books About Race/POC Author)
We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union (Books About Race/POC Author)
A Pho Love Story by Loan Le (POC Author – Vietnamese)
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez (POC Author – Bolivian)