Despite Stacey Dash’s nonsensical statements, Black History Month (BHM) is in fact still happening this year and what better way to celebrate than with some reading. Check out this list of books, both fiction and nonfiction, to help you feel empowered, make you laugh, and get motivated to change the world.
1. How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston
Start your BHM right by learning “how to be Black”. Thurston’s book of satirical essays that discuss how to be the best Black person you can be will keep you laughing and shaking your head at it’s realness.
2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Queen of Shondland, Shonda Rhimes has found success in a medium that has never been that open to women of color. Learn about how for one year Rhimes said yes to every opportunity that came her way and how it changed her life.
3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah centers around a young Nigerian couple who are separated but come back togethers 15 years later and rediscover their love for each other and their homeland.
4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Written as a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates dives into what it means to be Black in America, both in the present and in America’s history. Looking at his life experiences, Coates takes a hard look at race in America and what could be improved for the future.
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Filled with heart wrenching moments that will make you both angry and sad, Maya Angelou tells the story of her life with honesty and understanding. However, this book isn’t a sad story about what happened to her but instead an uplifting story about how she was set free.
6. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
From his childhood to his time in jail to his full dive into Islam, Malcolm X fully opens up about his ideals and how the American Dream doesn’t really include Black people. Whether you think his ideas are too extreme or not, they’ll definitely make you think.
7. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Written as a screenplay, this novel follows Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention awaiting trial. Winner of multiple awards, this shocking story demonstrates how one decision can completely alter someone’s life.
8. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
In this collection of hilarious essays, Issae Rae, creator of the YouTube hit, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, discusses her experiences as a creator of a YouTube show, dealing with people’s unwanted commentary, and rocking her natural hair.
9. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
Before it became an amazing film, Waiting to Exhale was a bestselling novel. Centered around four black women, each of whom are going through their own relationship trials, this book tells the story of the undeniable bonds that friends share.
10. Beloved by Toni Morrison
This classic novel tells the story of Sethe, a woman who escaped slavery 18 years ago but is still running from the ghosts she thought she left behind there. Filled with suspense, this isn’t just a story about slavery but a story about a mother who’s still being haunted.
11. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A tale about two sisters that are separated for years, The Color Purple is a classic that has since been turned into a movie and musical. Thought provoking, heart breaking, and inspiring this story is worth a read, and even a second if you’ve read it before.
12. Dear White People by Justin Simien
Answering questions such as, “Am I the token Black friend?” or “Was that a microaggression?” Dear White People is the ultimate guide to living in “post-racial” America.