If you’re looking for some readings by Black authors to add to your rotation, here are some “pre-approved” titles from Katrina Spencer, your Librarian for African American and African Studies. This list includes Black American authors.
“Between the World and Me,” Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)
If you’re interested in learning more about how white Americans and Black Americans can inhabit markedly different worlds based on zip codes alone, explore Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me”. Written as a letter to his son, Coates recounts how the circumstances of his environment primed him for one world within the classroom and another on the streets of Baltimore.
“The Underground Railroad,” Colson Whitehead (2016)
Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a work of historical fiction that tells the tale of two enslaved laborers’ attempt to escape the forced labor camps of the American South while being pursued by bounty hunters. Whitehead’s work examines what it means to become a fugitive in the pursuit of freedom.
“Heads of the Colored People,” Nafissa Thompson-Spires (2018)
What happens when identity crises, Blackness, and hypervisibility meet? Find out in Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ award-winning short story collection, “Heads of the Colored People”, written for the 21st-century reader and the digital age. Meet her fictional yet credible characters who come from a broad range of walks of life. With the growing popularity of cosplay subcultures, YouTube influencers, and restrictive diets, all featured here, there’s room for both confusion and conflict.
“Wow, No Thank You: Essays,” Samantha Irby (2020)
Samantha Irby’s essays are memoir, comedy, journalism and self-help, all rolled into one. In her fourth collection, Irby paints a picture of what it’s like to live in the rural Midwest while married to a new wife and while navigating a television writing gig. In an age of new media and lingering, old aspirations of upward mobility, Irby’s work shows us what it means to pursue a new-ish American dream.
“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” Deesha Philyaw (2020)
The most touching and approachable read of my 2020, Deesha Philyaw’s “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” is a compilation of short stories that deconstructs the ideologies that many Black women hold dear that are in fact quite harmful to them. For me, Philyaw is the most exciting new voice on the market, embracing queer cultures and challenging old paradigms of intimacy.