The best 67 African American books

Celebrating the rich cultural heritage and profound contributions of African Americans, this book list delves into the history, experiences, and achievements of this vibrant community. From the struggle for civil rights to inspiring personal stories, these titles provide a well-rounded understanding of African American culture and its impact on society. Join us in exploring these captivating narratives and gaining a deeper appreciation for the African American experience.

The best 67 African American books
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1
African American Books: 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

12 Years a Slave

Solomon Northup
4.8 (8 ratings)
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What's 12 Years a Slave about?

12 Years a Slave (1853) is a harrowing tale of Northup's abduction into slavery and his fight for freedom. It's a raw account of the brutalities of slave life and an insightful documentation of the American slave trade's inhumane practices.

Who should read 12 Years a Slave?

  • History enthusiasts
  • Abolitionist supporters
  • Human rights advocates

2
African American Books: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin
4.3 (108 ratings)
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What's The Fire Next Time about?

The Fire Next Time (1963) explores the roots of racism and the possibility of change through two passionately argued essays on religion, justice, and the Black experience in America.

Who should read The Fire Next Time?

  • Students curious about the signature voices of the American civil rights movement 
  • Those seeking insight into the interplay of racism and religion in society
  • Anyone craving clarity and wisdom on issues of justice, faith, and reconciliation that still resonate today

3
African American Books: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson
3.0 (1 ratings)
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What's Brown Girl Dreaming about?

Brown Girl Dreaming (2014) is a story of childhood as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s. It explores themes of family, identity, and belonging, set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement. The narrative weaves a rich tapestry of personal and historical moments, highlighting the struggles and joys of growing up in a time of social change.

Who should read Brown Girl Dreaming?

  • Students studying African American literature and history
  • Young adults exploring their racial and cultural identity
  • Anyone interested in memoirs and personal narratives

4
African American Books: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston
4.0 (2 ratings)
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What's Their Eyes Were Watching God about?

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) is a defining work in African-American and feminist literature. It explores love, independence, and identity through the eyes of a Black woman in the rural American South.

Who should read Their Eyes Were Watching God?

  • Readers interested in feminist literature
  • Appreciators of the Harlem Renaissance
  • Fans of immersive, character-driven novels

5
African American Books: Native Son by Richard Wright

Native Son

Richard Wright
3.8 (5 ratings)
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What's Native Son about?

First released in 1940, Native Son tackles the brutal realities of living in a racially prejudiced society. Through its protagonist's story, it illustrates the devastating and tragic effects that systemic oppression can have on an individual.

Who should read Native Son?

  •  Fans of social realism
  •  Readers interested in racial themes
  •  Followers of American literature

6
African American Books: Sula by Toni Morrison

Sula

Toni Morrison
A Novel
3.9 (75 ratings)
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What's Sula about?

Sula (1973) invites you into the lives of Sula Peace and Nel Wright, childhood friends whose lives take sharply different paths. Their story explores friendship, betrayal, and identity, as well as examining life in a quiet African American town in the 1920s.

Who should read Sula?

  • Avid readers of literary masterpieces
  • Anyone interested in themes of race, gender, or identity
  • Enthusiasts of African American history and culture

7
African American Books: The Confessions of Nat Turner by

The Confessions of Nat Turner

and Related Documents

What's The Confessions of Nat Turner about?

The Confessions of Nat Turner is a historical account of the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in Virginia. Based on Turner's own confessions, the book delves into the complex motivations and circumstances that led to the uprising, as well as its brutal aftermath. It offers a thought-provoking exploration of race, power, and resistance in American history.

Who should read The Confessions of Nat Turner?

  • Readers who are interested in American slavery and its historical context
  • History enthusiasts who enjoy reading biographies and memoirs
  • Individuals seeking a deeper understanding of racial issues and social justice

8
African American Books: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League

What's The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace about?

This book tells the captivating and heartbreaking story of Robert Peace, a brilliant young man who grew up in a rough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. Despite his academic success and potential, Robert's life takes a tragic turn as he becomes entangled in the complexities of race, class, and the choices he makes. Written by his college roommate, Jeff Hobbs, the book offers a powerful exploration of the American dream and the challenges that can prevent it from becoming a reality.

Who should read The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace?

  • People curious about the complexities and struggles of urban poverty
  • Readers interested in exploring the impact of race, class, and education on individual lives
  • Those who enjoy thought-provoking memoirs that offer deep insights into human nature

9
African American Books: The Fires of Jubilee by

The Fires of Jubilee

Nat Turner's Fierce Rebellion

What's The Fires of Jubilee about?

The Fires of Jubilee is a gripping historical account of Nat Turner's 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia. Stephen B. Oates delves into the social, political, and economic factors that led to the uprising, and provides a compelling portrayal of Turner's life and the events that ultimately sparked a violent revolt against the institution of slavery. This book offers a thought-provoking exploration of a dark chapter in American history.

Who should read The Fires of Jubilee?

  • History enthusiasts fascinated by the complexities of slavery and the abolitionist movement
  • Readers keen on discovering the untold stories behind historical figures like Nat Turner
  • Those who appreciate thought-provoking narratives that challenge conventional perspectives

What's Why We Can't Wait about?

In this powerful book, Martin Luther King Jr. reflects on the civil rights movement and the urgency of ending racial segregation and discrimination in America. He argues that the time for change is now and that we cannot afford to wait any longer for equality and justice. Through personal anecdotes and historical analysis, King inspires readers to take action and join the fight for a better future.

Who should read Why We Can't Wait?

  • Individuals interested in learning about the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in it
  • Readers who want to gain a deeper understanding of racial injustice and inequality in America
  • Those who seek inspiration and motivation to take action against social injustices

What's On Juneteenth about?

On Juneteenth is a powerful and deeply personal exploration of the history and significance of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Annette Gordon-Reed combines historical research with her own family's story to shed light on this often overlooked moment in American history and its enduring legacy. This book offers a thought-provoking reflection on the ongoing struggle for racial equality and the importance of remembering and honoring our shared past.

Who should read On Juneteenth?

  • History enthusiasts who want to deepen their understanding of American history
  • Individuals interested in exploring the ongoing impact of slavery and racial inequality in the United States
  • Readers seeking a thought-provoking and nuanced examination of race, identity, and the American experience

What's The Yellow House about?

The Yellow House is a memoir that delves into the author's family history and the significance of their New Orleans home. Broom explores themes of race, class, and identity as she reflects on her upbringing and the impact of Hurricane Katrina on her family and their community. This poignant and beautifully written book offers a unique perspective on the American experience.

Who should read The Yellow House?

  • Readers who are interested in family history and personal memoirs
  • People who want to gain insights into the experience of growing up in a specific place and time
  • Those looking for a well-crafted narrative that explores themes of race, class, and identity

What's The Strange Career of Jim Crow about?

This groundbreaking book examines the history of racial segregation in the United States and challenges the prevailing belief that it was an inevitable outcome of the Civil War. C. Vann Woodward traces the origins and development of Jim Crow laws and reveals the complex and often contradictory forces that shaped the system of racial discrimination. Through meticulous research and compelling analysis, the book sheds light on the deep-rooted racial tensions that continue to impact American society.

Who should read The Strange Career of Jim Crow?

  • Anyone interested in American history, particularly the history of racial segregation
  • Students, scholars, and academics studying civil rights, social justice, or African American history
  • Readers looking to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and impact of Jim Crow laws

14
African American Books: Malcolm X by

Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

What's Malcolm X about?

This biography offers a comprehensive and insightful look into the life of Malcolm X, a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Marable delves into Malcolm X's transformation from a troubled youth to a powerful advocate for black empowerment, while also examining the complexities of his beliefs and the impact of his legacy. It provides a thought-provoking analysis of a man who continues to inspire and challenge societal norms.

Who should read Malcolm X?

  • Individuals interested in the life and legacy of Malcolm X
  • Readers seeking a comprehensive understanding of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Those looking to explore the complexities of racial identity and social justice

15

What's Chains about?

Chains is a historical novel that follows the story of a young slave girl named Isabel during the American Revolutionary War. Set in New York City in 1776, the book explores themes of freedom, loyalty, and the fight for independence. As Isabel navigates the challenges of being owned by a cruel Loyalist family, she becomes entangled in the dangerous world of espionage and must make difficult choices to secure her own freedom. It is a gripping and thought-provoking tale of resilience and determination.

Who should read Chains?

  • Individuals interested in historical fiction
  • Readers who are interested in learning about the American Revolutionary War
  • Anyone who wants to explore themes of freedom, slavery, and the power of resilience

16
African American Books: Dust Tracks on a Road by

Dust Tracks on a Road

The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

What's Dust Tracks on a Road about?

"Dust Tracks on a Road" is an autobiography by Zora Neale Hurston that takes readers on a journey through her life. From her childhood in the American South to her travels around the world, Hurston shares her unique perspective on race, identity, and the human experience. With wit and wisdom, she reflects on the challenges and triumphs that shaped her into the influential writer and anthropologist she became. It's a captivating and inspiring read that offers a glimpse into a remarkable life.

Who should read Dust Tracks on a Road?

  • Fans of Zora Neale Hurston's work
  • Readers interested in African American history and literature
  • Those who enjoy memoirs and autobiographical accounts

17
African American Books: Coming of Age in Mississippi by

Coming of Age in Mississippi

The Classic Autobiography of a Young Black Girl in the Rural South

What's Coming of Age in Mississippi about?

This memoir by Anne Moody chronicles her experiences growing up as an African American in rural Mississippi during the 1940s and 1950s. It provides a firsthand account of the harsh realities of racism and segregation, as well as the author's journey towards self-discovery and activism. Through her compelling storytelling, Moody sheds light on the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement.

Who should read Coming of Age in Mississippi?

  • Readers who are interested in the civil rights movement and its impact on individuals
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of racial inequality and social justice issues
  • People who enjoy memoirs and personal narratives that offer a unique perspective on historical events

What's Devil in a Blue Dress about?

Set in 1948 Los Angeles, "Devil in a Blue Dress" follows Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins, a World War II veteran turned private investigator, as he is hired to find a missing woman. As he delves deeper into the case, Easy uncovers a web of corruption and deceit that leads him into the dangerous world of politics and racial tensions. This gripping mystery novel explores themes of race, power, and the struggle for justice.

Who should read Devil in a Blue Dress?

  • Fans of crime fiction looking for an intriguing and suspenseful read
  • Readers interested in exploring themes of race, identity, and social justice in a historical context
  • Those who appreciate well-developed characters and intricate storytelling

19

What's Blood Done Sign My Name about?

"Blood Done Sign My Name" is a powerful memoir by Timothy B. Tyson that delves into the racial tensions and violence in the American South during the civil rights era. Through personal anecdotes and historical research, Tyson examines the 1970 murder of a black man in his hometown and its impact on the community, while also reflecting on his own experiences with racism and the fight for equality. This thought-provoking book sheds light on a dark chapter in American history and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

Who should read Blood Done Sign My Name?

  • Individuals interested in the Civil Rights Movement and racial justice
  • Readers who enjoy memoirs and personal narratives
  • Those seeking a deeper understanding of the history of racial tensions in America

20
African American Books: A Mighty Long Way by

A Mighty Long Way

My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School

What's A Mighty Long Way about?

A Mighty Long Way is a memoir by Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the Little Rock Nine who desegregated Central High School in 1957. LaNier shares her inspiring story of bravery and resilience in the face of intense racial discrimination and violence, and the impact it had on the civil rights movement. It is a powerful account of one woman's fight for equality and the importance of education in breaking down barriers.

Who should read A Mighty Long Way?

  • Individuals interested in learning about the Civil Rights Movement from a personal perspective
  • Readers who enjoy memoirs and personal narratives
  • Those who want to gain insights into the experiences of young black students during a pivotal time in history

What's Manchild in the Promised Land about?

Published in 1965, "Manchild in the Promised Land" is a memoir by Claude Brown that chronicles his coming-of-age in Harlem during the 1940s and 1950s. The book provides a raw and honest portrayal of Brown's experiences with poverty, violence, and drug addiction, while also highlighting the resilience and determination that ultimately lead him to escape the cycle of despair and find hope for a better future. It offers a powerful insight into the realities of inner-city life and the struggle for survival.

Who should read Manchild in the Promised Land?

  • Individuals seeking an authentic and thought-provoking coming-of-age story
  • Readers interested in gaining insight into urban life in 20th century America
  • People who want to explore the themes of race, poverty, and resilience

22
African American Books: A Hope in the Unseen by

A Hope in the Unseen

An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League

What's A Hope in the Unseen about?

A Hope in the Unseen tells the inspiring true story of Cedric Jennings, a young African American from a rough neighborhood in Washington, D.C. who defies the odds to attend an Ivy League university. Facing poverty, violence, and discrimination, Cedric's determination and resilience shine through as he pursues his dreams of a better future. This powerful book offers a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of inner-city education and the potential for change.

Who should read A Hope in the Unseen?

  • Readers interested in real-life stories of perseverance and overcoming obstacles
  • People curious about the challenges faced by underprivileged students and the education system
  • Individuals looking for inspiration and motivation in their own personal journeys

23

What's Push about?

Set in Harlem in the 1980s, "Push" tells the story of Precious Jones, an illiterate and abused teenager who finds the strength to overcome her circumstances and pursue a better life. Through raw and powerful prose, Sapphire explores themes of resilience, trauma, and the power of education. This novel offers a poignant and unflinching look at the harsh realities faced by many young women, while also celebrating the possibility of redemption and self-discovery.

Who should read Push?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the themes of trauma, resilience, and personal growth
  • People who enjoy character-driven, emotionally impactful stories
  • Individuals who appreciate raw and gritty storytelling that tackles difficult subjects

24
African American Books: All That She Carried by

All That She Carried

The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

What's All That She Carried about?

All That She Carried tells the powerful story of an enslaved woman named Ashley and the heirloom items she passed down to her descendants. Through meticulous research and personal reflection, author Tiya Miles uncovers the history and significance of these objects, shedding light on the resilience and strength of enslaved women in the face of adversity. This book is a moving tribute to the untold stories of the past and the enduring legacy of those who came before us.

Who should read All That She Carried?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the history of slavery and its impact on individuals and families
  • People who enjoy reading personal narratives combined with historical research
  • Those who are looking to deepen their understanding of race, identity, and ancestry in America

What's Men We Reaped about?

Men We Reaped is a powerful memoir by Jesmyn Ward that explores the lives and deaths of five young men in her community. Through deeply personal stories and reflections, Ward delves into the systemic issues of racism, poverty, and lack of opportunity that contributed to their untimely deaths. It is a poignant and thought-provoking examination of the impact of social and economic inequality on individuals and families.

Who should read Men We Reaped?

  • Anyone seeking to understand the systemic issues impacting black communities in America
  • Readers who are interested in exploring themes of race, poverty, and resilience
  • Individuals who appreciate memoirs and personal storytelling

What's The Women of Brewster Place about?

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor is a powerful novel that tells the interconnected stories of seven African American women living in a housing project in the 1970s. Through vivid and emotional storytelling, Naylor explores themes of race, gender, and community, shedding light on the struggles and resilience of these women in the face of adversity.

Who should read The Women of Brewster Place?

  • Readers who enjoy exploring the lives and experiences of diverse women
  • Those interested in stories of resilience, community, and overcoming adversity
  • People who appreciate beautifully crafted and emotionally impactful literature

What's Another Country about?

Another Country by James Baldwin is a novel that delves into the complex relationships and identities of its characters in 1950s America. Set against the backdrop of Harlem and Greenwich Village, the book explores themes of race, sexuality, and societal expectations. It offers a thought-provoking meditation on the nature of love and the search for personal authenticity.

Who should read Another Country?

  • Readers interested in exploring complex social and interpersonal relationships
  • Those who enjoy thought-provoking narratives that challenge societal norms
  • Individuals looking to gain insights into issues of race, identity, and alienation

What's The Color of Water about?

The Color of Water by James McBride is a memoir that tells the story of the author's mother, a white Jewish woman who married a black man in 1942. The book explores themes of race, identity, and family as it delves into the complexities of their lives and the challenges they faced. It is a powerful and moving account of one woman's journey and the impact it had on her children.

Who should read The Color of Water?

  • Readers who enjoy memoirs and personal stories
  • Those interested in themes of identity, race, and family
  • Individuals who appreciate honest and heartfelt storytelling

What's The Coldest Winter Ever about?

The Coldest Winter Ever is a powerful novel by Sister Souljah that takes you into the world of Winter Santiaga, the daughter of a notorious drug dealer. Set in Brooklyn, New York, the story follows Winter as she navigates the dangerous streets, confronts betrayal, and ultimately learns the true meaning of love and survival. It is a gripping and raw depiction of urban life and family dynamics.

Who should read The Coldest Winter Ever?

  • Readers who enjoy gritty urban fiction
  • Those interested in exploring the struggles and triumphs of a young woman from a challenging background
  • Individuals who appreciate a raw and honest portrayal of life in inner city neighborhoods

30

What's Jazz about?

Jazz by Toni Morrison is a captivating novel that delves into the complexities of love, race, and identity in 1920s Harlem. Set against the backdrop of the vibrant jazz age, the story follows the lives of Violet and Joe Trace, whose passionate and tumultuous relationship unravels a web of secrets and betrayals. With lyrical prose and intricate storytelling, Morrison explores the power of music and the enduring legacy of the past.

Who should read Jazz?

  • Music enthusiasts interested in the history and culture of jazz
  • Readers who enjoy character-driven narratives with rich, lyrical language
  • Individuals curious about the complexities of love, identity, and the African American experience

What's The Known World about?

The Known World by Edward P. Jones is a thought-provoking novel that delves into the complex and often overlooked history of black slave owners in the antebellum South. Set in Virginia, the book challenges our understanding of power, freedom, and the legacy of slavery. Through rich storytelling and compelling characters, Jones paints a vivid picture of a world that is both familiar and hauntingly unfamiliar.

Who should read The Known World?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the complexities of slavery and its impact on individuals
  • Those who appreciate rich and immersive storytelling that spans generations and perspectives
  • People who enjoy thought-provoking literature that challenges conventional narratives

What's Salvage the Bones about?

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward is a powerful novel that delves into the lives of a family living in rural Mississippi. Set against the backdrop of an approaching hurricane, the book explores themes of survival, resilience, and the bond between siblings. Ward's lyrical prose and vivid storytelling make this a compelling and unforgettable read.

Who should read Salvage the Bones?

  • Readers interested in exploring the impact of natural disasters on marginalized communities
  • Those who appreciate lyrical and evocative writing
  • People who enjoy character-driven narratives with a strong sense of place

What's The Water Dancer about?

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a powerful novel that blends historical fiction with elements of magical realism. Set in the pre-Civil War era, it tells the story of Hiram Walker, a young enslaved man who discovers he has a mysterious power. As he grapples with his own abilities and the brutal reality of slavery, Hiram embarks on a journey towards freedom and self-discovery.

Who should read The Water Dancer?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction with elements of magical realism
  • Those interested in exploring the legacy of slavery and its impact on individuals and society
  • People looking for thought-provoking and emotionally resonant storytelling

What's Up from Slavery about?

Up from Slavery is an autobiography by Booker T. Washington, recounting his incredible journey from being born into slavery to becoming a renowned educator and civil rights leader. He shares his experiences, challenges, and triumphs, while also advocating for the importance of education and economic independence for African Americans in the post-Civil War era.

Who should read Up from Slavery?

  • Those interested in the history of African American emancipation and civil rights
  • People looking for inspirational stories of overcoming adversity and achieving success
  • Educators and students studying the life and legacy of Booker T. Washington

What's Notes of a Native Son about?

Notes of a Native Son is a collection of essays by James Baldwin that delves into the complex issues of race, identity, and society in America. With poignant reflections on his own experiences as a black man, Baldwin sheds light on the pervasive racial tensions and challenges faced by African Americans in the mid-20th century. Through his eloquent writing, he offers a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition and the quest for equality.

Who should read Notes of a Native Son?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the complexities of race and identity
  • Those who appreciate eloquent and thought-provoking essays
  • People who want to gain a deeper understanding of the African American experience in the mid-20th century

What's Go Tell It on the Mountain about?

Go Tell It on the Mountain is a powerful novel by James Baldwin that delves into the themes of religion, family, and race in 1930s Harlem. Through the story of a young boy named John, Baldwin explores the complexities of identity and the search for spiritual redemption. It is a compelling and thought-provoking read that offers a unique perspective on the African-American experience.

Who should read Go Tell It on the Mountain?

  • Individuals seeking a deep exploration of religious and spiritual experiences
  • Readers interested in complex and multi-layered family dynamics
  • Those who appreciate lyrical and evocative writing that delves into themes of identity, race, and sexuality

What's Another Brooklyn about?

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson is a poignant novel that delves into the complexities of friendship, memory, and coming of age. Set in 1970s Brooklyn, it follows the life of August as she reflects on her childhood and the inseparable bond she shared with her group of friends. Woodson's lyrical prose beautifully captures the essence of friendship and the bittersweet realities of growing up.

Who should read Another Brooklyn?

  • People who enjoy literary fiction with a focus on female friendships
  • Readers who appreciate lyrical and evocative writing
  • Those interested in exploring themes of memory, identity, and belonging

38

What's Roots about?

Roots by Alex Haley is a powerful and deeply moving novel that traces the author's family history from the capture and enslavement of his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, in Africa to their eventual emancipation in America. Through vivid storytelling, Haley brings to light the brutal realities of slavery and the resilience of the human spirit.

Who should read Roots?

  • Individuals interested in African-American history and the legacy of slavery
  • Readers who enjoy compelling family sagas that span across generations
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of slavery on American society

What's The Twelve Tribes of Hattie about?

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis is a powerful novel that follows the life of Hattie Shepherd and her twelve children. Set against the backdrop of the Great Migration and spanning several decades, the book delves into themes of family, love, and resilience. Each chapter focuses on a different member of Hattie's family, offering a unique perspective on their struggles and triumphs.

Who should read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie?

  • Readers who enjoy family sagas and multi-generational stories
  • Those interested in exploring the experiences of African American families throughout the 20th century
  • People who appreciate nuanced and complex characters facing adversity

What's The Invention of Wings about?

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a historical novel inspired by the life of Sarah Grimké, a real-life abolitionist and women's rights activist. Set in the early 19th century, the book tells the story of Sarah and Handful, a slave gifted to Sarah on her 11th birthday. The novel explores themes of freedom, empowerment, and the enduring bond between the two women as they strive for independence in a society that seeks to confine them.

Who should read The Invention of Wings?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction and stories of women's empowerment
  • Those interested in exploring the complexities of slavery and its impact on individuals
  • People who appreciate beautifully crafted prose and compelling characters

What's The Nickel Boys about?

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that tells the story of two boys sentenced to a brutal reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. Inspired by real events, it explores themes of race, justice, and the lasting impact of systemic oppression. Whitehead's compelling storytelling makes this book a must-read.

Who should read The Nickel Boys?

  • Anyone interested in exploring the dark legacy of systemic racism in America
  • Readers who appreciate compelling and thought-provoking narratives
  • Individuals who want to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by marginalized communities

What's Invisible Man about?

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison tells the story of a nameless African American man who navigates through a world where he feels unseen and unheard. The novel explores themes of identity, race, and societal expectations, offering a powerful commentary on the realities of life for black Americans in the early 20th century.

Who should read Invisible Man?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and introspective narratives
  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of identity, race, and social invisibility
  • Those who appreciate rich and symbolic storytelling

What's The Underground Railroad about?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead follows the story of a young woman named Cora who escapes from a Georgia plantation and sets out on a journey through the underground railroad. This novel reimagines the historical network of secret routes and safe houses used by African-American slaves to escape to free states, exploring themes of freedom, race, and the power of the human spirit.

Who should read The Underground Railroad?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the history of slavery in America
  • Those who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally impactful stories
  • Individuals who appreciate beautiful and evocative writing

What's The Watsons Go to Birmingham about?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis is a powerful and heartwarming novel that follows the Watson family as they embark on a road trip from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama in the midst of the civil rights movement. Through humor and poignant storytelling, the book explores themes of family, racial injustice, and the power of love and resilience.

Who should read The Watsons Go to Birmingham?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set during the civil rights movement
  • Young adult and middle grade readers looking for a relatable and engaging story
  • Individuals who appreciate narratives that blend humor with serious topics

What's Americanah about?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a powerful novel that explores race, identity, and the immigrant experience. It tells the story of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who moves to the United States for college, and her journey to navigate the complexities of American society while trying to hold on to her own cultural identity. Through Ifemelu's personal narrative, Adichie offers poignant insights into the challenges and realities of being black in America.

Who should read Americanah?

  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of race, identity, and immigration
  • Readers who enjoy multi-continental narratives that span Nigeria and the United States
  • Those who appreciate insightful and thought-provoking social commentary within a compelling story

What's Bud, Not Buddy about?

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis tells the story of a 10-year-old boy named Bud who goes on a journey to find his father during the Great Depression. Filled with humor and heart, this novel explores themes of family, belonging, and self-discovery.

Who should read Bud, Not Buddy?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set during the Great Depression
  • Children and young adults looking for a relatable and inspiring protagonist
  • Those interested in themes of family, identity, and perseverance

What's Broken Crayons Still Color about?

Broken Crayons Still Color by David Weaver is an inspiring book that challenges the notion of brokenness. Through personal stories and practical advice, the author encourages readers to embrace their imperfections and find beauty in their unique journey. It reminds us that even when life seems shattered, we still have the ability to create something beautiful.

Who should read Broken Crayons Still Color?

  • Anyone struggling with addiction or a difficult past
  • People looking for inspiration and hope
  • Readers who enjoy personal stories and memoirs

What's A Raisin in the Sun about?

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is a powerful play that delves into the dreams, struggles, and resilience of an African American family living in 1950s Chicago. As they grapple with societal expectations, racial discrimination, and their own conflicting aspirations, the Younger family members each strive for a better life and a sense of dignity. This timeless classic explores themes of family, identity, and the pursuit of happiness.

Who should read A Raisin in the Sun?

  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of race, class, and identity
  • Readers looking for a thought-provoking and emotionally impactful story
  • Those who enjoy character-driven narratives that delve into complex family dynamics

What's A Lesson Before Dying about?

")- Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying is a powerful exploration of race, injustice, and dignity. Set in 1940s Louisiana, it tells the story of a young black man wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death. As his teacher and friend, Grant Wiggins, tries to impart a sense of self-worth and humanity before the execution, the novel confronts the harsh realities of racism and the possibility of redemption. A thought-provoking and deeply moving read.

Who should read A Lesson Before Dying?

  • Readers looking for thought-provoking and socially relevant literature
  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of racism, injustice, and the human spirit
  • People who enjoy character-driven narratives with emotional depth

What's On the Come Up about?

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas is a powerful novel that follows the story of Bri, a young aspiring rapper who is determined to make a name for herself in the music industry. Set in the same neighborhood as Thomas's debut novel, The Hate U Give, this book explores themes of identity, family, and the pursuit of dreams in the face of adversity. It is a compelling and thought-provoking read that sheds light on the challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Who should read On the Come Up?

  • Teenagers and young adults who are interested in the hip-hop culture and music industry
  • Readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories with strong, relatable protagonists
  • Individuals who appreciate authentic and unapologetic portrayals of social issues and diversity

What's The Kitchen House about?

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom tells the story of Lavinia, a young girl who becomes an indentured servant on a tobacco plantation in 18th century Virginia. Caught between the worlds of the black slaves and the white indentured servants, Lavinia forms close bonds with both groups, but soon discovers the dark secrets and complexities of life in the plantation household.

Who should read The Kitchen House?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction with a focus on race and social issues
  • Those interested in exploring the complexities of relationships and identity
  • Individuals who appreciate well-developed characters and multi-layered storytelling

What's Twelve Years a Slave about?

Twelve Years a Slave is a powerful memoir by Solomon Northup that recounts his harrowing experience as a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the antebellum United States. The book exposes the brutal reality of slavery and serves as an important historical document.

Who should read Twelve Years a Slave?

  • Readers who are interested in the history of slavery in America
  • Individuals who enjoy memoirs and personal narratives
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of human resilience and the strength of the human spirit

What's Sing, Unburied, Sing about?

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward is a powerful and haunting novel that explores the bonds of family and the legacy of racial injustice in America. Set in rural Mississippi, the story follows a troubled young boy, his drug-addicted mother, and his incarcerated father as they embark on a road trip that reveals dark family secrets and the ghosts of the past. With lyrical prose and deep emotional resonance, this book delves into themes of loss, identity, and the search for redemption.

Who should read Sing, Unburied, Sing?

  • Lovers of literary fiction looking for a beautifully written and emotionally impactful story
  • Readers interested in exploring themes of family, race, and the American South
  • Those who appreciate complex and well-developed characters in their novels

What's Washington Black about?

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan is a captivating novel that follows the life of an 11-year-old slave named George Washington Black, who escapes from a Barbados plantation with the help of his master's brother. The story takes us on an adventurous journey across the globe as Wash discovers his own identity and seeks freedom.

Who should read Washington Black?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of adventure
  • Those interested in exploring themes of identity, freedom, and the human spirit
  • Anyone looking for a captivating and beautifully written literary novel

What's The Color Purple about?

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a powerful novel that explores the lives of African American women in the early 20th century. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Celie, the book delves into themes of racism, sexism, and the power of female relationships. It is a poignant and thought-provoking read that has left a lasting impact on its readers.

Who should read The Color Purple?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally impactful stories
  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of race, gender, and resilience
  • Those looking to expand their understanding of the African American experience

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What's Heavy about?

Heavy is a powerful memoir by Kiese Laymon that delves into the author's experiences growing up as a black man in the American South. Through raw and honest storytelling, Laymon explores themes of race, identity, and the weight of family secrets. This thought-provoking book challenges readers to confront difficult truths about society and themselves.

Who should read Heavy?

  • Readers who are interested in thought-provoking memoirs
  • Individuals who want to explore the complexities of race, identity, and family
  • Those who appreciate honest and raw storytelling

What's An American Marriage about?

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a powerful novel that delves into the complexities of love, race, and justice in America. When Roy is wrongfully imprisoned, his marriage to Celestial is put to the ultimate test. Through intimate storytelling and thought-provoking themes, the book challenges our preconceived notions and leaves a lasting impact.

Who should read An American Marriage?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally complex stories
  • Those interested in exploring the impact of systemic racism on individuals and their relationships
  • People who appreciate nuanced and relatable characters

What's Kindred about?

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler tells the gripping tale of Dana, a black woman in 1970s America who is mysteriously transported back in time to the Antebellum South. Forced to confront the brutal reality of slavery, she finds herself repeatedly pulled back to this dangerous time period, where she must save the life of a white ancestor. This thought-provoking novel explores themes of power, identity, and the enduring impact of history.

Who should read Kindred?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally impactful stories
  • Those interested in exploring themes of race, power, and identity
  • People who appreciate well-crafted and immersive storytelling

What's Citizen about?

Citizen (2014) is a powerful exploration of race and identity in contemporary America. Through a combination of prose, poetry, and visual art, Claudia Rankine delves into the everyday experiences of racial microaggressions and the larger systemic issues that shape the lives of black individuals. This thought-provoking book challenges readers to confront their own biases and consider what it truly means to be a citizen in a society marked by racial tensions.

Who should read Citizen?

  • Individuals who want to explore the complexities of race and racism in contemporary society
  • Readers interested in thought-provoking and lyrically expressive non-fiction
  • Those who are open to challenging their own perspectives and confronting uncomfortable truths

What's The Secret Life of Bees about?

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a captivating novel that delves into themes of family, love, and the power of female community. Set in the American South in the 1960s, it tells the story of a young girl named Lily Owens who runs away from her abusive father in search of her mother's past. She finds refuge with three beekeeping sisters and discovers the extraordinary world of bees, while also uncovering the truth about her own family.

Who should read The Secret Life of Bees?

  • Readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories and strong female protagonists
  • Those interested in exploring themes of family, resilience, and the power of female community
  • People who appreciate richly detailed settings and lyrical, evocative writing

What's The Other Wes Moore about?

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore is a thought-provoking book that explores the lives of two men with the same name who grew up in similar circumstances but ended up with very different destinies. Through personal anecdotes and in-depth research, Moore delves into the factors that shaped their lives and raises important questions about family, education, and the choices we make.

Who should read The Other Wes Moore?

  • Individuals seeking to understand the impact of environment and personal choices on one's life outcomes
  • Readers interested in thought-provoking stories and social issues
  • Those who enjoy biographies and narratives that inspire self-reflection and empathy

What's Long Way Down about?

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a gripping novel-in-verse that takes place in the span of just sixty seconds. It follows fifteen-year-old Will as he takes an elevator down to seek revenge for his brother's murder. Along the way, he is visited by ghosts from his past, forcing him to confront the cycle of violence and make a life-altering decision. This powerful and thought-provoking book delves into themes of grief, family, and the impact of gun violence.

Who should read Long Way Down?

  • Readers who enjoy powerful and thought-provoking young adult literature
  • Individuals interested in exploring the impact of gun violence on communities and individuals
  • Those who appreciate unique and innovative storytelling techniques

What's New Kid about?

New Kid by Jerry Craft is a captivating graphic novel that follows seventh grader Jordan as he navigates his new, predominantly white, private school. Through Jordan's experiences, the book addresses issues of race, identity, and fitting in, while also highlighting the power of friendship and self-discovery. It's a thought-provoking and heartfelt story that will resonate with readers of all ages.

Who should read New Kid?

  • Readers who enjoy engaging and thought-provoking graphic novels
  • Young people navigating issues of identity, diversity, and fitting in
  • Educators and parents looking for a way to spark conversations about race, privilege, and inequality

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African American Books: I am Enough by

I am Enough

Journal Affirmations for Girls

What's I am Enough about?

This empowering book by Elizabeth D. Gray encourages readers to embrace their worth and believe in themselves. Through personal anecdotes and practical advice, the author inspires individuals to let go of self-doubt and recognize their own value. "I Am Enough" is a reminder that we are all deserving of love, respect, and happiness.

Who should read I am Enough?

  • Anyone seeking to boost their self-esteem and cultivate self-acceptance
  • Individuals looking to overcome self-doubt and embrace their worthiness
  • People who want to develop a positive mindset and lead a more fulfilling life

What's My Bondage and My Freedom about?

My Bondage and My Freedom is an autobiographical narrative by Frederick Douglass, an African American who escaped from slavery and became a prominent abolitionist. In this book, Douglass recounts his experiences as a slave, his escape to freedom, and his journey towards self-education and empowerment. He also reflects on the broader issues of slavery, racism, and the quest for equality. It is a powerful and thought-provoking account that sheds light on the harsh realities of slavery and the resilience of the human spirit.

Who should read My Bondage and My Freedom?

  • Readers interested in African American history and the abolitionist movement
  • Individuals seeking a firsthand account of the experiences of a former slave
  • Those looking to gain insight into the struggles and resilience of Frederick Douglass

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African American Books: Never Caught by

Never Caught

The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

What's Never Caught about?

Never Caught tells the incredible true story of Ona Judge, a young enslaved woman who escaped from George Washington's household in 1796. Through meticulous research, Erica Armstrong Dunbar uncovers the untold story of Judge's daring escape and her fight for freedom. This book sheds light on the harsh realities of slavery in America and the resilience of those who sought to break free from its chains.

Who should read Never Caught?

  • History enthusiasts keen to uncover untold stories of American slavery
  • Readers interested in the perspective of enslaved people
  • Individuals curious about the hidden contributions of women in history

What's Arc of Justice about?

Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle is a gripping account of racial injustice and the fight for civil rights in early 20th century America. Set in Detroit in 1925, the book tells the true story of Dr. Ossian Sweet, an African American man who was charged with murder after defending his family against a violent white mob. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Boyle sheds light on the complexities of race relations and the legal system during this tumultuous time.

Who should read Arc of Justice?

  • Readers who are interested in the history of civil rights and racial justice in America
  • Individuals who enjoy true crime stories and legal dramas
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of race relations and systemic discrimination

Related Topics

African American Books
 FAQs 

What's the best African American book to read?

While choosing just one book about a topic is always tough, many people regard 12 Years a Slave as the ultimate read on African American.

What are the Top 10 African American books?

Blinkist curators have picked the following:
  • 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • Sula by Toni Morrison

Who are the top African American book authors?

When it comes to African American, these are the authors who stand out as some of the most influential:
  • Solomon Northup
  • James Baldwin
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Richard Wright