Black Books Matter - some recommended reading

Some of you don't have black people in your lives, and those of us who do still might not really understand all the ways their lives may differ to ours, to yours.

Books provide insight. Books offer a way into worlds that look quite like ours but aren't. Books are a path towards empathy. If we can empathize with the lives of fictional characters we can at least partially imagine ourselves into the shoes of those whose lives these fictional accounts reflect.

I often worry that I read too many US-based writers and I've been making deliberate efforts to change that. I've said this before - for a country that only counts for 3.5% of the world's population its cultural weight is disproportionate, so many, but not all of these books are from US authors. I'm also just focusing on books by black authors written in countries where they are not in the majority.

I've written elsewhere about my theory that the systemic barriers within the publishing industry mean that any books by women will on average be 'better' since they have a higher bar and more obstacles to clear. I feel this is probably true for black writers too. Again, this is only a theory, but one I feel bears some consideration.

Here are a few of the fiction and non-fiction books I've read - any of which I recommend - by contemporary black writers (listed in no particular order) who have helped open my eyes just a tiny bit wider,

Girl, Woman, Other - Bernardine Evaristo

Grand Union: Stories - Zadie Smith

Swing Time - Zadie Smith

White Teeth - Zadie Smith

On Beauty - Zadie Smith

NW - Zadie Smith

The Sellout - Paul Beatty

The White Boy Shuffle - Paul Beatty

The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead

Sing, Unburied, Sing - Jesmyn Ward
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race - Jesmyn Ward

God Help the Child - Toni Morrison

Beloved - Toni Morrison

Hunger - Roxane Gay

Difficult Women - Roxane Gay

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Open City - Teju Cole


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