I’ve written and re-written this post in my head. There are so many words, but in the end, this is what it comes down to: Black Lives Matter. Read Black authors. Non-fiction AND fiction. There is much to learn, yes, but also much Black joy and Black art to support and love.
There are so many actions we (white people) can, and must, take to address the systemic and institutional racism that we have created and had the privilege to live without experiencing or addressing. And no one, NO ONE, can fix that but us. If you want to talk with me about that, please, please reach out. I have some suggestions, have been working on it in my “real” life (offline), if you don’t know where to start. And I am open to suggestions, if you have some to share.
But in this space, I will continue to do what I have spent the last three and a half years doing. Reading, reviewing, promoting the work of authors I love, and striving to be ever more intentional with the books that I pick up to do that with.
For transparency, and to show that it takes time (this is a movement, not a moment), but that conscious action can do it, I’d like to share my reading stats from the past three and a half years of book blogging. When I started this blog, I began to track reading stats, because I was curious. It was eye-opening and allowed me to make changes that I am both proud of and continue to improve.
So far in 2020, 25% of the books I’ve read have been by Black authors.
I linked directly to my yearly stats posts, if you want to see more detail. But the point is, I noticed a problem in the lack of diversity in my reading after I started tracking. And I have been purposefully addressing it since then. What have I done? Follow Black bloggers, bookstagrammers, artists and authors on any social media platforms you frequent (make sure to interact with them and share/boost their reviews and posts, as well…this is something I’ll really be focusing on, moving forwards). Pay attention to different/new-to-you publishers. Look past the “big releases” and books that win Goodreads Choice Awards or are promoted by mainstream book clubs and services. Google book lists with your specific parameters – they’re out there – and be careful which sources you use (look at who authored the lists). Join in some reading challenges (The Reading Women puts one out every year). If you find a book or author that you like, use Goodreads’ “readers have also enjoyed” suggestions (some of those have been spot on for me). If you can afford to, buy and preorder books by Black authors. If not, and honestly even if you can, USE YOUR LIBRARY: be sure to request books by Black and other POC authors that they don’t have (this legitimately affects what they purchase). I’m sure there are myriad further options – leave any suggestions you want to in the comments, and I’ll continue to research more myself.
These changes are within our (again, our = white people) power to make and should absolutely be a priority as readers. And while I’ve made progress, the work isn’t done and I’m not stopping!
And you can always ask me for recommendations – I love giving them. As a starting place, but by no means nearly exhaustive list, here are links to my reviews for some of great books by Black authors, (*books that I know are by LGBTQ/queer Black authors; if I missed any, it wasn’t on purpose – let me know and I’ll update):
How We Fight for Our Lives (Saeed Jones*) – nonfiction
Beloved (Toni Morrison) – historical fiction, classic
Get a Life, Chloe Brown (Talia Hibbert) – contemporary romance
Sulwe (Lupita Nyong’o) – picture book/children’s
The Confessions of Frannie Langton (Sara Collins*) – historical fiction, crime/mystery
American Spy (Lauren Wilkinson) – historical fiction, spy/thriller
Patsy (Nicole Dennis-Benn*) – contemporary literature
SLAY (Brittney Morris) – YA, contemporary (LOVED THIS ONE)
The Shadow King (Maaza Mengiste) – historical fiction
Odd One Out (Nic Stone*) – YA, contemporary
Eloquent Rage (Brittney Cooper) – nonfiction, essays
You Can’t Touch My Hair (Phoebe Robinson) – nonfiction, essays, humor
Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) – contemporary literature
The Mothers (Brit Bennet) – contemporary literature
The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas) – YA, contemporary
Heads of the Colored People (Nafissa Thompson-Spires) – short stories, contemporary
Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates) – nonfiction, memoir
Monster Portraits (Sofia and Del Samatar) – graphic novella of sorts
Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay*) – nonfiction, essays
Kindred (Octavia Butler) – sci-fi, historical fiction
My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite) – thriller, horror-ish
American Street (Ibi Zoboi) – YA, contemporary
Girl, Woman, Other (Bernardine Evaristo*) – contemporary literature
Sister Outsider (Audre Lorde*) – nonfiction, essays
Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams) – contemporary literature
The Girl Who Smiled Beads (Clemantine Wamariya) – nonfiction, memoir
Let’s Talk About Love (Claire Kann*) – YA, romance, LGBTQ
when they call you a terrorist (Patrisse Khan-Cullors now Cullors-Brignac , asha bandele*) – nonfiction, memoir-ish
She Would Be King (Wayetu Moore) – historical fiction, magical realism
The Last Black Unicorn (Tiffany Haddish) – nonfiction, essays, humor
Binti (Nnedi Okorafor) – sci-fi, fantasy
Whiskey & Ribbons (Leesa Cross-Smith) – romance, contemporary (AMAZING, so under-hyped)