Black History Month
Celebrate Black History Month with our cultivated list of books on Black history and Black joy! You'll find a mix of fiction and non-fiction books that address the history of Black struggle in America as well as books that focus on Black triumph and job. This month we want to acknowledge the history of inequality and discrimination that Black people endured, but also celebrate how much has changed. At the top of our list you'll find books by North Carolina writers!
For books for young readers, see our list here.
Finalist for 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction
Longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction
Finalist for the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize
Mingling the earthy with the otherworldly, these ten stories chronicle ineffable events in ordinary lives.
***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***
***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***
Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, 2022 Chautauqua Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize Shortlist, 2022 Maya Angelou Book Award Shortlist, 2022 Carnegie Medal Longlist
First published in 1956, Proud Shoes is the remarkable true story of slavery, survival, and miscegenation in the South from the pre-Civil War era through the Reconstruction. Written by Pauli Murray the legendary civil rights activist and one of the founders of NOW, Proud Shoes chronicles the lives of Murray's maternal grandparents.
Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American Masters.
All the Songs We Sing: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carolina African American Writers' Collective (Paperback)
"An expansive spectrum of literary purpose and aesthetics that shine fiercely" --from the introduction by Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate
In The Geography of Jazz, Moore celebrates jazz music and jazz musicians. Some of the poems address specific events. Others honor individual artists. Many do both.
Tyree Daye's Cardinal is a generous atlas that serves as a poetic "Green Book"-- the travel-cum-survival guide for black motorists negotiating racist America in the mid-twentieth century. Interspersed with images of Daye's family and upbringing, which have been deliberately blurred, it also serves as an imperfect family album.
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Bridgette A. Lacy offers an ode to a meal that, notably in the Sabbath-minding South, is more than a meal. Sunday dinner, Lacy observes, is "a state of mind.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, this gloriously entertaining novel is “fast-paced, keen-eyed and very funny ... about race, power and the history of Harlem all disguised as a thrill-ride crime novel" (San Francisco Chronicle).
8 starred reviews · Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best · William C. Morris Award Winner · National Book Award Longlist · Printz Honor Book · Coretta Scott King Honor Book · #1 New York Times Bestseller!
"Absolutely riveting!" —Jason Reynolds
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Best Book of the Year
NPR • The Washington Post • Boston Globe • TIME • USA Today • Entertainment Weekly • Real Simple • Parade • Buzzfeed • Electric Literature • LitHub • BookRiot • PopSugar • Goop • Library Journal • BookBub • KCRW
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • READ WITH JENNA BOOK CLUB PICK AS FEATURED ON TODAY • Two estranged siblings delve into their mother’s hidden past—and how it all connects to her traditional Caribbean black cake—in this immersive family saga, “a character-driven, multigenerational story that’s meant to be savored” (Time).
From the award-winning author of Parable of the Sower:After the near-extinction of humanity, a new kind of alien-human hybrid must come to terms with their identity -- before their powers destroy what is left of humankind.
“Masterfully flips the first installment on its head... James makes the mythic tantalizingly real.’” —Esquire
"Even more brilliant than the first.” —Buzzfeed
An Instant New York Times Bestseller and NPR Best Book of 2022 pick
The captivating first novel in The Convergence Saga by Cadwell Turnbull, the award-winning author of The Lesson
An Indie Next Pick
A LibraryReads Pick
Named A Most Anticipated Book by Bustle, Buzzfeed, Forbes, GoodReads, Marie Claire, The Millions, and Tor.com
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A beautiful, arresting story about race and the relationships that shape us through life by the legendary Nobel Prize winner—for the first time in a beautifully produced stand-alone edition, with an introduction by Zadie Smith
An instant New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today Bestseller • AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB SELECTION • ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021 • WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the Gotham Book Prize
One of Barack Obama's "Favorite Books of the Year"
Oprah's Book Club Pick
Named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and TIME Magazine
A Washington Post Notable Novel
Winner of the National Book Award
Jesmyn Ward, two-time National Book Award winner and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing, delivers a gritty but tender novel about family and poverty in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.
A ravishingly beautiful and emotionally incendiary reinvention of the love story by the legendary Nobel Prize winner
From one of the most important writers of the twentieth century comes a stunning love story about a young Black woman whose life is torn apart when her lover is wrongly accused of a crime—"a moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless" (The New York Times Book Review).
Named one of the most important nonfiction books of the 21st century by Entertainment Weekly' Slate' Chronicle of Higher Education' Literary Hub, Book Riot' and Zora
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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.
"Powerful, wrenching.” –JOHN GREEN, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Turtles All the Way Down
"Raw and gripping." –JASON REYNOLDS, New York Times bestselling coauthor of All American Boys
A timely paperback reissue of the stunning, prize-winning portrait of the Jim Crow South through unique first-person accounts
Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. A selection of the Schomburg Center's Black Liberation Reading List.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER • A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.
In the American South, the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the struggle to abolish racial segregation erupted in dramatic scenes at lunch counters, in schools, and in churches.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The story of modern medicine and bioethics—and, indeed, race relations—is refracted beautifully, and movingly.”—Entertainment Weekly
Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler's Guide to the People, Places, and Events that Made the Movement (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail offers a vivid glimpse into the story of Black America's fight for freedom and equality. From eye-opening landmarks to celebrations of triumph over adversity, experience a tangible piece of history with Moon U.S.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING MICHAEL B. JORDAN AND JAMIE FOXX • A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An intimate and revealing portrait of civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman John Lewis, linking his life to the painful quest for justice in America from the 1950s to the present—from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of America
“[An] inspiring book about the events leading up to the 1960 election, from Dr. King’s imprisonment to student activism in Atlanta to JFK’s campaign. It’s a story we can all learn from—a story of overlooked heroes and the power each of us has to create change.” —Barack Obama
One of O, The Oprah Magazine’s best books of February 2021
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Tarana Burke and Dr. Brené Brown bring together a dynamic group of Black writers, organizers, artists, academics, and cultural figures to discuss the topics the two have dedicated their lives to understanding and teaching: vulnerability and shame resilience.
"Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you're going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to."
In these impassioned, powerful essays, an award-winning journalist deals forthrightly with what it means to be Black in an America that still supports Trump.
The award-winning Revisioning American History series continues with this “groundbreaking new history of Black women in the United States” (Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist)—the perfect companion to An Indigenous People’s History of the United States and An African American and Latinx History of the United States.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • ONE OF OPRAH’S “BOOKS THAT HELP ME THROUGH” • NOW AN HBO ORIGINAL SPECIAL EVENT
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“Yinka is a lovable and relatable disaster—which is to say, she isn’t actually a disaster at all...I adore her.”—Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Book Lovers
A NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS' TOP BOOK OF THE YEAR • BOOKLISTS' EDITOR'S CHOICE • ONE OF NPR'S BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
From the New York Times bestselling author of House of Eve—a 2023 Reese’s Book Club Pick!
A masterful collection of stories that showcases one of the country's most beloved and acclaimed writers--award-winning author, Walter Mosley.
“Makumbi is such an honest, truthful writer. . . . I loved every single page.” —Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
A Best Book of the Year at TIME; The Washington Post; O, the Oprah Magazine; BBC
Winner of the Jhalak Prize
In the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, a brilliant Caribbean writer delivers a powerful story about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called "paradise."In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister.
The instant New York Times bestseller and companion book to the PBS series.
“Absolutely brilliant . . . A necessary and moving work.” —Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., author of Begin Again
A masterclass in the civil rights movement from one of the legendary activists who led it.
From one of the most brilliant and provocative literary figures of the past century comes a groundbreaking novel set among the bohemian bars and nightclubs of 1950s Paris, about love and the fear of love—"a book that belongs in the top rank of fiction" (The Atlantic).
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In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity—told “with vivid imagery, with lavish attention to details ... [a] feverish story" (The New York Times).
An essential compendium of James Baldwin’s most powerful nonfiction work, calling on us “to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country.”
“Ellison sought no less than to create a Book of Blackness, a literary composition of the tradition at its most sublime and fundamental." —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., TIME
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this deeply compelling novel and epic milestone of American literature, a nameless narrator tells his story from the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this #1 New York Times bestseller chronicles a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. The basis for the acclaimed original Amazon Prime Video series directed by Barry Jenkins.
This debut novel by the two time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer.
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys: A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this Pulitzer Prize-winning follow-up to The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys unjustly sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
2021 Golden Poppy Award Winner for Poetry - Chosen by the California Independent Booksellers Alliance
2022 California Book Award Finalist
Politically astute, filled with wisdom and great humanity, this is poetry meant to conjure a healing and provoke a confrontation, an invitation to a journey through Black America.
This title is a nonreturnable book, so please make sure it is the right one!
A definitive selection of Audre Lorde’s "intelligent, fierce, powerful, sensual, provocative, indelible" (Roxane Gay) prose and poetry, for a new generation of readers.
A National Book Critics Circle Poetry Award Winner!
An insightful exploration and moving meditation on identity, art, and belonging from one of the most celebrated writers of the last decade.
A new collection of the seminal writings and speeches of a legendary writer, orator, and civil rights leader
The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society.
New York Times Bestseller • TIME Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 • New York Public Library’s Best Book of 2018 • NPR’s Book Concierge Best Book of 2018 • Economist Book of the Year • SELF.com’s Best Books of 2018 • Audible’s Best of the Year • BookRiot’s Best Audio Boo
Bloomberg • Best Nonfiction Books of 2020: "[A] tour de force."
The basis of a major PBS documentary by Ric Burns, this “excellent history” (The New Yorker) reveals how the automobile fundamentally changed African American life.
A new historical anthology from transatlantic slavery to the Reconstruction curated by the Schomburg Center, that makes the case for focusing on the histories of Black people as agents and architects of their own lives and ultimate liberation, with a foreword by Kevin Young
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In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this “gorgeous” (The New York Times, Editors’ Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the “incredible story” (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.
A Hulu Original Series Coming Soon
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A Good Morning America and Read with Marie Claire Book Club Pick and a People Best Book of Summer
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Time, The Washington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Marie
The Burning (Young Readers Edition): Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 (Hardcover)
One of the worst acts of racist violence in American history took place in 1921, when a White mob numbering in the thousands decimated the thriving Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
A National Book Award Finalist
A Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor Book
A Michael L. Printz Honor Book
A Walter Dean Myers Honor Book