Four books to begin reading for Black History Month

Photo courtesy by Well Read Black Girl

In honor of Black History Month, it’s time to decolonize your bookshelf and add some books with perspectives from Black authors. Books written by these queer Black authors and Black women are extremely necessary to diversify your point-of-view.

Literary clubs like Well Read Black Girl, Noname’s Book Club, or Reese’s Book Club have featured the novels below and are popular among bibliophiles. Whether you’re into reading about Black radicals, fictional worlds, or coming-of-age narratives, here’s a list of four different books that are waiting to be read.

Women, Race, & Class” by Angela Davis

Women, Race, & Class by Angela Davis. Photo courtesy Amazon

You may be familiar with Angela Davis for her association to the Black Panther Party, but she is also a Black educator, activist and author. “Women, Race, & Class” is a thorough discussion about the Black liberation movement in the United States, specifically geared toward Black women.

In 1982, Ann Jones, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, said, “The notion that poor Black women are triply oppressed– by class, race and sex– is by now a truism; but the ragged course of those biases in the past and the points at which they converge today are not easily sorted out, or even spotted. It is like Angela Davis, who has never shied from impossible tasks, to try. In ”Women, Race and Class” she untangles some strands of that triple knot.”

She has written many other books including “Are Prisons Obsolete?” and “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement.”

The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half. Photo courtesy Penguin Random House

You may recognize this title from Barack Obama’s list of favorite books of 2020or from Noname’s Book Club, but it received these achievements for a reason. Brit Bennett’s coming-of-age book covers colorism, racism, love, identity, homophobia and more in less than 400 pages. The New York Times’ best-seller shares the fictional life of the Vignes twins throughout the 1940s to the 1990s.

“It’s a rare gift to be able to dig beyond the dirt and gossip of lives viewed superficially to get to the inner human story, to delve beyond the sensational into difficult issues, and to view flawed characters with understanding rather than judgment or condemnation,”says Heller McAlpin, a reviewer from NPR.

Bennett’s debut book, “The Mothers,” is also a New York Times’ best-seller.

The Summer of Everything” by Julian Winters

The Summer of Everything. Photo courtesy Amazon

If your library is in desperate need of a romance book, specifically a LGBTQ+ romance book, Julian Winters’ “The Summer of Everything” is waiting to complement your bookshelf. The main character, Wes Hudson, juggles avoiding adulthood while attempting to save his favorite independent bookstore.

“I was really hooked on this story,” says Goodreads user Larry H. “So many of us have had that crush on someone we care about and have felt totally paralyzed when it comes to expressing our feelings. Winters really captured those emotions, as you struggle to figure out whether what your heart wants and what your head tells you can mesh.”

Winters has also featured more LGBTQ+ main characters in his other books, “Running With Lions” and “How to be Remy Cameron.”

You Should See Me in a Crownby Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown. Photo courtesy Amazon

Imagine fitting identity, sexuality, romance and comedy all into one book that is geared toward Black women. With Leah Johnson’s “You Should See Me in a Crown,” you don’t have to use your imagination. In the Reese’s Book Club and Well Read Black Girl previous pick, the reader follows Liz Lightly throughout her coming-of-age story.

According to Kirkus Reviews, “You Should See Me in a Crown is “the queer prom romance you didn’t know you needed.”

Johnson’s sophomore novel, “Rise to the Sun,” is about two queer women at a music festival in the Midwest and is expected to be released in July 2021.

To diversify your reading materials and support locally owned bookstores, shop online with Bookshop or any Black-owned bookstore. If you’re interested in purchasing from a bookstore in Tallahassee, check out Midtown Reader.