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10 Books By Women Of Color To Add To Your Reading List

Did you know that nearly a quarter of adults in America admit they haven’t read a book in the last year? *this is the part where you slowly realize you’re one of them* Don’t worry, though; this is a judgement free zone.

But if you’re ready to end the drought – you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of some great books by women of color that all women of color (and everybody else for that matter) needs to read ASAP.

Now, since I’m part of the quarter of the population who hasn’t read an entire book in over a year, I can’t say I’ve read all of these, but hey, good reviews have to mean something, right? Right!

Check out these 10 awesome books by women of color.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer**

Let me start off by saying this: I love short stories.

This collection offers a nice variety of stories with their own unique voice and perspective. Although you’ll likely end up wishing that a few of the stories were longer, Packer does a great job of making each piece feel complete.

The characters in each story are relatable and carefully thought out (and black). Packer’s use of language is simple yet deliberate so I found myself wanting to read more during every story.

 

Saint Monkey by Jacinda Townsend**

Part coming of age story part insightful commentary, Saint Monkey focuses on two young black women, Audre and Caroline growing up in a small Kentucky town.

Throughout the story, we see each character struggle with her own set of challenges as we get a glimpse into friendship, gender, race, and the complex identities that surround them.

Townsend handles the characters and their qualities with a level of care that makes this story unique and intriguing.

 

Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros**

Named after a creek in central Texas, Sandra Cisneros’ Woman Hollering Creek is nothing short of spectacular. This collection of short stories focus on Mexican-American women as they navigate to find their place in society both in and outside of their homes.

Cisneros’ writing style is poetic and her stories are have a way of drawing you into the world she created.

The Heads of Colored People by Nafissa Thompson

Judging a book by its title probably isn’t the best idea, but how could you not want to read a book with a title like this?!

This collection of short stories serves as a strong debut for author, Nafissa Thompson, who uses this book to explore the dynamics of race, class, and gender by detailing the lives of ‘ordinary’ characters.

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you were the only black person (let’s be real, you have) this is a book you’ll be able to relate to on more levels than one.

Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Naima Coster’s debut novel is the type of first impression all writers wish they could give. Detailing the story of a family living in Brooklyn as gentrification begins to reshape the borough.

The book’s main character, Penelope, who moves back to New York to take care of her sick father, is forced to come to terms with what the changes mean for her old neighborhood, herself, and her family.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston**

As one of the most famous books by women of color, Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is the definition of a classic. Despite being published in 1937 and set in the early 1900s, book story has stood the test of time.

The book tells the story of Janie Crawford, a middle-aged woman who is reflecting on her life while talking to her best friend.

Janie, who has spent much of her adult life in Eatonville, FL, has become the talk of the town after running off with a much younger man after the death of her husband.

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

Don’t think I forgot about all of my non-fiction fans out there.

Written by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, the woman who is responsible for the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, this memoir is full of passion and self-awareness.

According to The Chicago Tribune, “The memoir explores how she was affected by police, mass incarceration, lack of community resources and underemployment. Her life serves as a window into how marginalized neighborhoods are under constant systemic attack. The Inglewood resident is hoping readers walk away from her book ready to commit to action.”

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler**

For anyone who is under the impression that books by women of color are only capable of discussing race and/or gender, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower is here to tell you otherwise.

Set in the 2020s, this science-fiction novel is gives us a glimpse into a world that has faced ruin as a result of climate change, greed, and disparities in wealth (doesn’t sound like fiction, does it?).

 

All About Love by bell hooks

Famed writer and social activist, bell hooks, is known for her ability to unpack knowledge and reflect on meaningful moments.

In All About Love, hooks talks about the concept of love and how it relates to the world we live in. hooks’ primary focus is the difference in how men and women are taught to give and accept love.

Sweet Summer by BeBe Moore Campbell

BeBe Moore Campbell was best known for her fiction work, but this memoir is both delicate in powerful.

Highlighting her complicated relationship with her father, Campbell invites us into her memory bank where she shares stories of time spent with and without her dad.

Do You Know of Any Other Books by Women of Color?

If you’re one of the large group of people who don’t read on a regular basis. Now is the perfect time to start.

Are there any other books by WOC that you’d like to recommend or think we should add to our list?

If so, leave the titles and authors in the comments.

** = books I’ve already read
* = books I started reading but never finished

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