A selection of fiction and nonfiction books written by Black authors for readers of all ages.
This list is far from exhaustive and we are always open to including new titles. If you have recommendations for books by Black authors to add, please contact us.
Many of the titles present here are about race and racism, however this list is intended to showcase Black voices across a whole range of subjects and genres. For more books about race and racism specifically, please see our Antiracist Reading list.
- by Will Smith
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The instant #1 New York Times bestseller!
"It's the best memoir I've ever read." --Oprah Winfrey
"Will Smith isn't holding back in his bravely inspiring new memoir . . . An ultimately heartwarming read, Will provides a humane glimpse of the man behind the actor, producer and musician, as he bares all his insecurities and trauma." --USA Today
Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement
One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.
Will Smith's transformation from a West Philadelphia kid to one of the biggest rap stars of his era, and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, is an epic tale--but it's only half the story.
Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn't see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn't signed up for. It turned out Will Smith's education wasn't nearly over.
This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world's biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.
- by Marlon James
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From Marlon James, author of the bestselling National Book Award finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf, comes the second book in the Dark Star trilogy.
In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes centre stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It's also the story of a century-long feud--seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch--that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi's power is considerable--and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own.
Both a brilliant narrative device--seeing the story told in Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the perspective of an adversary and a woman--as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon's world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality, and the places where they overlap.
- by Ibram X. Kendi
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o A chorus of extraordinary voices tells the epic story of the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present--edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.
FINALIST FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL o NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post, Town & Country, Ms. magazine, BookPage, She Reads, BookRiot, Booklist o "A vital addition to [the] curriculum on race in America . . . a gateway to the solo works of all the voices in Kendi and Blain's impressive choir."--The Washington Post
"From journalist Hannah P. Jones on Jamestown's first slaves to historian Annette Gordon-Reed's portrait of Sally Hemings to the seductive cadences of poets Jericho Brown and Patricia Smith, Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence."--O: The Oprah Magazine
The story begins in 1619--a year before the Mayflower--when the White Lion disgorges "some 20-and-odd Negroes" onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume "community" history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith--instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.
This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.
- by Imbolo Mbue
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A fearless young woman from a small African village starts a revolution against an American oil company in this sweeping, inspiring novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers.
ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, People o ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, The Christian Science Monitor, Marie Claire, Ms. magazine, BookPage, Kirkus Reviews
"Mbue reaches for the moon and, by the novel's end, has it firmly held in her hand."--NPR
We should have known the end was near. So begins Imbolo Mbue's powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells of a people living in fear amid environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of cleanup and financial reparations to the villagers are made--and ignored. The country's government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interests. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle will last for decades and come at a steep price.
Told from the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community's determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman's willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people's freedom.
- by Brit Bennett
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * THE WASHINGTON POST * NPR * PEOPLE * TIME MAGAZINE* VANITY FAIR * GLAMOUR
2021 WOMEN'S PRIZE FINALIST
"Bennett's tone and style recalls James Baldwin and Jacqueline Woodson, but it's especially reminiscent of Toni Morrison's 1970 debut novel, The Bluest Eye." --Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal
"A story of absolute, universal timelessness ...For any era, it's an accomplished, affecting novel. For this moment, it's piercing, subtly wending its way toward questions about who we are and who we want to be...." - Entertainment Weekly
From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.
- by Liselle Sambury
Young adult hardcover
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"High stakes, big heart, and lots of Black Girl Magic...unputdownable." --Aiden Thomas, New York Timesbestselling author of Cemetery Boys
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family's magic. The problem is, she's never been in love--she'll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
After years of waiting for her Calling--a trial every witch must pass to come into their powers--the one thing Voya Thomas didn't expect was to fail. When Voya's ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees--and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family's magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she'll first have to find the perfect guy--and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn't count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc--how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she'll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
- by Toufah Jallow
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"This powerful story shouldn't be missed." Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A fiercely readable, potent memoir of a survivor who refuses to be silenced. . . . An inspirational page-turner." Kirkus Reviews (starred)
An incandescent and inspiring memoir from a courageous young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, became the first woman to publicly call the country's dictator to account for sexual assault--launching an unprecedented protest movement in West Africa.
In 2015, Toufah Jallow was a nineteen-year-old dreaming of a scholarship. Encouraged by her mother, she entered a presidential competition designed to identify and support the country's smart young women, ands he won.
Which brought her to the attention of Yahya Jammeh, the country's dictator, who styled himself as a pious yet progressive protector of women. At first, he behaved in a fatherly fashion towards his winner, butthen he proposed marriage. When Toufah turned him down, he drugged and raped her.
She could not tell anyone what happened. Not only was there no word for rape in her native language, if she told her parents, they would take action and incur Jammeh's wrath. Wearing a niqab to hide her identity, she gave his security operatives the slip and fled to Senegal, eventually making her way to safety in Canada.
Then Jammeh was deposed. In July 2019, Toufah Jallow went home to testify against him in a public hearing, sparking marches of support and a social media outpouring of shared stories among West African women. Each bold decision Toufah made helped secure the future Jammeh had tried to steal from her, and also showed her a new path of leadership and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence.
- by Esi Edugyan
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Winner of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize
A dazzling, original novel of slavery and freedom, from the author of the international bestseller Half-Blood Blues
When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black - an eleven year-old field slave - is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde - naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist - whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning - and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.
But when a man is killed one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. Christopher Wilde must choose between family ties and young Washington's life. What follows is a flight along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the bounty that has been placed on Washington's head. Their journey opens them up to the extraordinary: to a dark encounter with a necropsicist, a scholar of the flesh; to a voyage aboard a vessel captained by a hunter of a different kind; to a glimpse through an unexpected portal into the Underground Railroad. This is a novel of fraught bonds and betrayal. What brings Wilde and Washington together ultimately tears them apart, leaving Washington to seek his true self in a world that denies his very existence.
From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life. This inventive, electrifying novel asks, What is Freedom? And can a life salvaged from the ashes ever be made whole?
- by Toni Morrison
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A beautiful, arresting short story by Toni Morrison--the only one she ever wrote--about race and the relationships that shape us through life, with an introduction by Zadie Smith.
Twyla and Roberta have known each other since they were eight years old and spent four months together as roommates in the St. Bonaventure shelter. Inseparable at the time, they lose touch as they grow older, only to find each other later at a diner, then at a grocery store, and again at a protest. Seemingly at opposite ends of every problem, and in disagreement each time they meet, the two women still cannot deny the deep bond their shared experience has forged between them.
Written in 1980 and anthologized in a number of collections, this is the first time Recitatif is being published as a stand-alone hardcover. In the story, Twyla's and Roberta's races remain ambiguous. We know that one is white and one is black, but which is which? And who is right about the race of the woman the girls tormented at the orphanage?
Morrison herself described this story as "an experiment in the removal of all racial codes from a narrative about two characters of different races for whom racial identity is crucial." Recitatif is a remarkable look into what keeps us together and what keeps us apart, and about how perceptions are made tangible by reality.
- by Kacen Callender
Young adult softcover
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A Stonewall Honor Book * A Time Magazine Best YA Book of All Time
From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.
Felix Love has never been in love--and, yes, he's painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it's like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What's worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he's one marginalization too many--Black, queer, and transgender--to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages--after publicly posting Felix's deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned--Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn't count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle....
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
"Felix is attending an ultracompetitive arts summer program to have a better shot at a full scholarship to Brown when someone posts Felix's dead name beside photos of him, pre-transition, in the school's lobby. Felix's plot to get revenge throws him onto the path of love and self-discovery." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")
- by Angie Thomas
Young adult softcover
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The YA love letter to hip-hop--streaming on Paramount+ September 23, 2022! Starring Sanaa Lathan (in her directorial debut), Jamila C. Gray, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Lil Yachty, Method Man, Mike Epps, GaTa (Davionte Ganter), Miles Gutierrez-Riley, Titus Makin Jr., and Michael Anthony Cooper Jr.
#1 New York Times bestseller · Seven starred reviews · Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri's got massive shoes to fill. But it's hard to get your come up when you're labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn't just want to make it--she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn't always free.
"For all the struggle in this book, Thomas rarely misses a step as a writer. Thomas continues to hold up that mirror with grace and confidence. We are lucky to have her, and lucky to know a girl like Bri."--The New York Times Book Review
Plus don't miss Concrete Rose, Angie Thomas's powerful prequel to her phenomenal bestseller, The Hate U Give!
- by Jason Reynolds
Young adult hardcover
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Prepare yourself for something unlike anything: A smash-up of art and text for teens that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right Now. Written by #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jason Reynolds.
Jason Reynolds and his best bud, Jason Griffin had a mind-meld. And they decided to tackle it, in one fell swoop, in about ten sentences, and 300 pages of art, this piece, this contemplation-manifesto-fierce-vulnerable-gorgeous-terrifying-WhatIsWrongWithHumans-hope-filled-hopeful-searing-Eye-Poppingly-Illustrated-tender-heartbreaking-how-The-HECK-did-They-Come-UP-with-This project about oxygen. And all of the symbolism attached to that word, especially NOW.
And so for anyone who didn't really know what it means to not be able to breathe, REALLY breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you'll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is.
- by F. Abike-iyimide
Young adult hardcover
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Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.
All you need to know is . . . I'm here to divide and conquer. Like all great tyrants do. --Aces
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school's senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
With heart-pounding suspense and relevant social commentary comes a high-octane thriller from debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.
- by Tracy Deonn
Young adult softcover
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An Instant New York Times Bestseller!
Winner of the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn's YA contemporary fantasy reinvents the King Arthur legend and "braids together Southern folk traditions and Black Girl Magic into a searing modern tale of grief, power, and self-discovery" (Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles).
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC-Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape--until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called "Legendborn" students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a "Merlin" and who attempts--and fails--to wipe Bree's memory of everything she saw.
The mage's failure unlocks Bree's own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there's more to her mother's death than what's on the police report, she'll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society's secrets--and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur's knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she'll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down--or join the fight.
This paperback edition of Legendborn contains a teaser to the thrilling sequel, Bloodmarked, as well as an exclusive short story from Selwyn Kane's perspective!
- by Elise Bryant
Young adult softcover
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From the author of Happily Ever Afters comes another irresistible YA romantic comedy full of self-discovery and Black love--and a dreamy European cruise. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and Jenny Han, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances.
Lenore Bennett has always been a force. A star artist and style icon at her high school, she's a master in the subtle art of not giving a . . . well, you know what. But now that graduation is here, she's a little less sure.
She's heading to NYU in the fall with a scarlet U (for "undeclared") written across her chest. Her parents always remind her that Black kids don't have the luxury of figuring it out as they go--they have to be 110 percent prepared. But it's a lot of pressure to be her ancestors' wildest dreams when Lenore's not even sure what her dreams are yet.
When her family embarks on a post-graduation Mediterranean cruise, her friend Tessa is sure Lenore's in for a whirlwind romance. But Lenore knows that doesn't happen to girls like her.
Then she meets Alex Lee. After their parents bond over the Cupid Shuffle, she ends up stuck with him for the remainder of the cruise. He's a hopeless romantic and a golden boy with a ten-year plan. In short, he's irritating as hell.
But as they get to know each other during the picturesque stops across Europe, Alex may be able to help Lenore find something else she's been looking for, even if she doesn't want to admit it to herself: love.