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Essential Reading for Black History Month

Essential Reading for Black History Month

It’s Black History Month. It’s time to get to reading, folks. Here are some essential picks for reading this month.

Note about the list: I made sure I shared books that I’ve read. There are many, many more books to read. All of these selections are written by black authors.


How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi — If you want to contribute to a more just society, this is a good “how to” book and a really excellent place to start.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo — Another good place to start if you’re new to thinking about race in America.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson — This book was recently adapted into a movie. It’s a tough read, but totally worth it.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander — The author shows the nefarious ways racism influences the lives of Americans today–and that is with mass incarceration. This is a truly essential read. If you want to watch an excellent documentary based on this book, I highly recommend 13th directed by Ava Duvernay on Netflix.

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt — How does implicit bias affect our behavior? This book presents cutting edge research about how our biases color the lenses through which we see the world.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin — A sharp critique of American society written at the height of the civil rights movement.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates — To me, this is the modern The Fire Next Time. It’s searing, intense, and brutally honest.


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison — When I read this book in high school, this was my first exposure to the impact of racism. It was really eye-opening–and of course, Toni Morrison is legendary.

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead — A heart-wrenching, wonderful read.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison — THIS BOOK! I am a huge fan of sci fi and this is one of the best science fiction portrayals of racism that I’ve ever read. It’s absolutely lovely and the author set a bunch of records for the number of awards this series won.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor — This is another excellent sci-fi/fantasy pick. It’s being adapted as a TV show for HBO right now, so stay ahead of the curve and read it before it takes over the internet! (Okorafor also wrote Binti, a really great novella. I also recommend that.)

Let me know what you’ve read! I am always looking for recommendations.



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