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16 Books Written By Black Women That Everyone Should Read

Love stories, adventure, and words of wisdom – what more could you want?

To mark the end of Black History Month, I’ve gathered a selection of my favourite books written by Black authors from around the world. Centring on love, family, and friendship, these are absolute must-reads.

NBC
Headline Publishing Group

Rom-com expert Bolu Babalola’s Love in Colour is a mosaic of short love stories based on old myths and folktales with a contemporary twist. Bolu focuses her love stories on women from around the world and omits overdone patriarchal elements, such as the "damsel in distress" trope. The tales have a certain uniqueness about them as they showcase the diversity of love. There are 10 retellings and an additional three new stories, including her parents' beautiful love story!







Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orisha) by Tomi Adeyemi

Macmillen

If like me, you absolutely can't get enough of dystopian fantasy novels, then this is for you. This coming-of-age story follows heroine Zélie Adebola as she attempts to fight against the tyrannical king of Orisha by restoring magic into the kingdom. She meets runaway princess Amari and they journey together to end the continuous oppression and violence against the Magi. However, Zelie struggles to control her growing powers and her deep magical connection for Prince Iman, her (sort of) enemy. Tomi draws inspiration from West African culture and violence against Black people in America. This book is immaculate in its development of the characters and it's so refreshing to read a fantasy book where the characters are Black.





Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Penguin

Noughts and Crosses is an alternative history story set in the apartheid of Albion "Europe" colonised by the Aprican Empire “Africa”. Callum, a white Nought, and Sephy, a black cross, are childhood friends in a world where Noughts and Crosses are fated to be enemies. Sephy’s the daughter of a wealthy politician and helped Callum enter Heathcroft School, which was previously Cross-only. Their bubble bursts when the evident separation in society becomes very apparent to them. The story explores their friendship and how they navigate life and love despite the border between the races. There’s also a TV adaption which you can watch on BBC.






My sister the serial My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Doubleday Books

Set in Lagos, Nigeria, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a dark satirical crime story about Korede, a nurse who has romantic feelings for Tade, a doctor who works at the same hospital. When Tade has an interest in Korede's beautiful younger sister Ayoola, Korede is filled with worry that Ayoola might hurt Tade as she has done with all her other partners. Koreda is sarcastic, sardonic, and in some way an enabler – she is constantly cleaning up after her sister’s messes, but Ayoola claims to have killed her past boyfriends in "self-defence'. If you enjoy crime with dark humour this is for you.





An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

A heartbreaking story of love, false imprisonment, and despair. This book wrecked a lot of emotions for me – I felt awful for Roy, who's sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime he did not commit. And then there’s Celestrial, whose marriage to Roy was shattered by racial injustice. During the incarceration, Celestrial seeks comfort in their close friend Andre, and when Roy's conviction is overturned she struggles to rebuild with the weight of the separation heavy in her heart. Can Roy and Celestrial restore their strained relationship? You’ll have to read and see.







The Sex lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Dialogue

Rich and captivating, The Sex Lives of African Women delves into experiences of sex, sexuality, and relationships of African and diaspora women. From living a polygamous life in Senegal to finding love in your sixties, the book has 30 stories centring on the pleasures of African women. The collection is based on women from all over the globe and how they explore their sexuality and find more sexual freedom.










The Secret Life of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Serpent's Tail

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is a tragic comedy that follows the life of a polygamous family in Nigeria as they accept a new wife, Bolanle. Baba Segis is a patriarch and proud husband to his four Wives, Iya Segi, Iya Tope, Iya Femi, and Bolanle. At first, it seems as if the main line of tension between the first three wives and Bolonle – she’s a university graduate and seems much more modern. We see much of the story from the perspective of Bolanle, who sets her sights on joining this family and bearing children for Baba Segi. As the story unfolds, we learn that Bolonle’s arrival has put the family at risk of exposing a big secret, and it’s not long before there’s a revelation.






Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

PenguinRandomHouse

Stay with Me is set in Nigeria in the 1980s and is Ayobami's first book. It tells the story of Yejide and Akin, a couple who fell in love at university and got married before they even graduated. Fast forward to four years of marriage, Yejide is unable to fall pregnant, even after consulting many doctors and healers. She's hoping for a miracle, but Akin's family is pushing for him to marry a second wife who can bear his children. Yejide is now more determined to get pregnant, but when she finally does things take an unexpected turn.








Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Simon and Schuster

I’ll be honest, I found myself enraged throughout this whole book, but I just couldn't put it down. Often described as the Black Bridget Jones, Queenie is a 25-year-old British Jamaican woman living in London. The book takes you through her love life, the poor decisions she makes while dating, and how events from her past haunt her. Queenie is thought-provoking and relatable. Well worth a read!









The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Penguin Random House

If you liked Children of Blood and Bone, this will fill the void it left. I’ve literally pushed this book into the hands of everyone I know – it's gripping and I loved the world-building. The Glided Ones is a fantasy series following Deka, a young woman living in Otera, a West African-inspired society. Otera is a world governed by misogyny, where women must take part in a ceremony to show their purity and bleed red. When Deka comes of age, she takes part in this ritual and discovers her blood is gold. She instantly becomes an outcast, but when she meets a mysterious woman her world begins to change and she realises who she really is.






Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Feiwel & Friends

Gossip Girl meets Get Out, need I say more? Ace of Space sets the scene at a prestigious, high school where musician Devon and head girl Chaimaka are the only Black students. They are both targeted with texts from “Aces," an anonymous villain who’s revealing their secrets to the school. Devon and Chaimaka don't know who to trust as the texter seems all-knowing, and what first seems like a high school prank turns out to be something very dark and sinister.









The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

Viking

This book is meticulously researched – I gained so much insight into life in the early fifties in the Tiger Bay area of Cardiff, Wales, which is home to one of the UK’s oldest Somali communities. Mahmood Mattan was wrongfully hanged for killing shopkeeper Lily Volpert. Nadifa retells this true story through the lens of Mahmood as he fights to prove his innocence in a judicial system deeply ingrained with racism.









The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Riverhead Books

I found The Vanishing Half to be a really easy read, despite the heavy topics in this book. Twins Desiree and Stella Vignes run away to New Orleans at the age of sixteen and split ways not long after. Desiree gets married to a Black man, while Stella leaves New Orleans, marries a white man, and lives her life passing as white. The story shifts between past and present, where Desiree's daughter meets a woman at a party who is the spitting image of her mother. Desiree has been looking for her sister for years and although the two lead very different lives, their fates remain intertwined.







The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Corgi Childrens

You may have heard about the movie, but I’d recommend reading the book first! The events in this book take place over the course of a day in a series of coincidences. Natasha, a young Jamaican woman, is on her way to see a lawyer to seek help to prevent her family from being deported from America. She meets Daniel, a Korean American who is on his way to his interview for Yale University. They are complete polar opposites, but as they get to know each other through the day, they fall in love. Yes, everything happened in a day – but it is such a beautiful read. I have to admit I ugly cried at the end.







Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

HarperCollins

A heartwarming yet heartbreaking story of love, grief, and sisterhood. Sisters Camino and Yahaira Rios are separated by distance, and they only learn about each other’s existence after the tragic death of their father. The two sisters bond over the loss and find solace in each other as they adapt to the unprecedented changes in their lives. This takes you on a journey of emotions, centring on both losing and finding love.









And to finish…. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Viking Press

If you haven't read Becoming, it’s time to do yourself a favour. Whenever I need uplifting or I’m in a slump, this is my go-to book. Michelle Obama's inspirational memoir gives readers an honest insight into her entire life – from her childhood to her becoming the first-ever Black first lady. Her candid reflection on her political and personal journey is so powerful and relatable, making it a perfect read to end Black History Month with.








Don't forget to share your recommendations and favourite Black authors in the comments!

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