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5 Books by Black Female Authors You Are Going To Love

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

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Words by Sindara Oyekola

As I rediscover my love for reading as an adult, I’ve sought to eliminate preconceived notions about what is appropriate reading material for an adult. For a long time, I thought I had to love nonfiction books and be able to recount the life stories of the world’s greatest leaders to be considered a serious reader and I've worked hard to disabuse myself of those thoughts. I think there is something to be said for the amount of imagination that fictional books require, sometimes set in a world that doesn’t exist and in which you need your mind’s eye to really enmesh yourself in the story you’re reading. In reframing my mindset, I have found several nonfiction books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. This yearning for experiences that I can relate to or imagine, set in cultures that resonate with me, led me to my 2021 commitment of reading more books by Black authors. So without further ado, here are five books (fiction and nonfiction) by Black authors that I recommend:

  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Soneyin: this soon to be Netflix series, follows the Alao household comprised of Baba Segi, his three wives and his seven children as Baba Segi marries a fourth wife whose impact on the family’s dynamic threatens to expose a tightly held secret that could destroy the family. I absolutely adore this book because it’s entertaining and yet touches on so many societal issues that Nigeria grapples with. It explores themes of money, rape, healing, class, domestic abuse, sexual assault, jealousy, family and many more. I really hope the book gets adapted as a movie and I’d love to see Bolanle Austen-Peters turn it into a play. Buy the book below or listen to the audiobook on scribd and audible.

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson - I read this book after both my grandma and dad recommended it to me and I’m so glad I did. If you want to learn about how the race in America is more of a caste system, which ensures that Black Americans always remain at the bottom of the social ladder regardless of all the good faith efforts to ensure equity, this is the book for you. The book is quite long and I listened to the audio version which I thoroughly enjoyed and also recommend. It also led me to Wilkerson’s amazing debut nonfiction book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. Buy Caste below or listen to the audiobook here.

  • While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams - when I found out Stacey Abrams was the author of multiple books all I could think was, “An author and the savior of Georgia’s democracy, is there anything Black women cannot do??” While Justice Sleeps is a legal thriller that follows a new Supreme Court clerk as she finds out that her boss, Supreme Court Justice Wynn who is in a coma has appointed her to serve as his legal guardian and assigned her his power of attorney. She has until his death to investigate clues he has left behind and provide evidence as the highest court deliberates on a historic merger. The book was entertaining but took a while to really settle into so I would recommend reading in bits and having Google close by to understand some of the legal terms. Purchase this book below or listen the audiobook here.

  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo - quick confession: I tend to avoid books that win awards because I generally find them pretentious or boring and so I was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy this book. Girl, Woman, Other follows twelve interconnected women and cuts across countries and over thirty years exploring themes of gender, sexuality, race and racism, and immigration among others. Interestingly enough, Evaristo writes in poetry form and so, punctuations are sparse with the odd full stop which admittedly takes some getting used to. You can purchase the book below or listen to the audiobook here.

  • Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi - I don’t generally gravitate towards collections of short stories because I enjoy getting to know characters intimately and I find that short stories don’t give me that satisfaction. This book, however, hit the spot because the stories felt complete. The first six stories vividly describe the community that Ugandan immigrants build for themselves abroad as they try to preserve their culture and survive in a strange, new country. The second half of the book, made up of five stories, portrays the realities of moving back to or visiting a home country (Uganda) and attempting to reintegrate as you realize that even though you never really fit in abroad, you are also a foreigner “at home.” This book made me feel seen. You can purchase it here or listen to the audiobook here.

If you’ve read any of these books, comment below and share other recommendations as well. I’ve always enjoyed reading and I’m so excited to now be able to share my love of books through my book review podcast, My Lit Adventure. You can listen to episodes here and follow us on Instagram.

Images by Sindara Oyekola

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