Let’s take a step back for a second and get real: I lack some serious diversity in my tbr pile. Most of the authors I read are women, Southeast Asian, or white men. Only one of the authors I have on my tbr shelf is anAfrican-American: Octavia Butler.
THIS IS NOT OKAY. IT’S A WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF UNACCEPTABLE. With February being Black History Month, I decided to ask librarians for diverse book recommendations. They hooked me up with some awesome books that celebrate African-American writers. So, let’s talk about the books I’m reading for Black History Month:
A new era begins for the Black Panther! MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates ( Between the World and Me )takes the helm, confronting T’Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before. When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt–but can its monarch, one in a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary change? Heavy lies the head that wears the cowl!
Because I’m easing myself into appreciating graphic novels and the movie is in the theaters this month, Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates is the first book I’ll be reading this month.
Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality.
Akata Witch has been on my tbr list for awhile now and I’m happy I’ll finally get to read it. I’ve never read anything set in Nigeria, nor from an albino’s point of view, which makes the experience of reading Akata Witch that much more magical for me. Plus, this is my first introduction to Nnedi Okorafor.
Taja Brown knows her place and the restrictions within her conservative and tight-knit African American family, but she suddenly feels left behind watching her friends go through a world of firsts — from kisses to boyfriends to everything in between. But everything shifts when Taja falls in love for the first time. Tamani creates a raw, relatable, and eloquently-told coming-of-age story about finding your place, beliefs, and identity.
I’m going to level with you on this one: I have never heard of this book. I have never seen it floating around or heard BookTube buzzing about it or read a review about it on a blog. So, how did I find out about it? By stalking the Manhattan Library reading suggestions section. I told Google to send me somewhere with books to read for Black History Month and it lead me to Calling My Name by Liara Tamani.
Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due’s work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories—one of which has never been published before—Ghost Summer: Stories is sure to both haunt and delight.
Everything about this book screamed for me to read it, and so I am.
Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.
Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.
When the autopsy of Matilda’s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.
I was told this book would make me shiver. I was told it would make me tremble, and question things, and feel emotions like the roller coaster I try desperately to avoid. I was told there was no way this book should be left off my tbr list for this month — and so it’s here. I cannot wait to read it.
What books, if any, are you reading for Black History Month?
** All blurbs are from Goodreads**