Hey, I’m Ana, a dreamer in my twenties with two certificates in photography, a love for reading and writing fairytales, and a chronic case of wanderlust.
The Rage of Dragons
What’s my favorite book written by a Black author? First of all, having to choose just one was basically impossible. However, I’ve narrowed it down to my favorite book in my current favorite genre and that’s the first book in the new adult fantasy series, Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter.
This book…. is unputdownable. I literally made my kiddo dinner and was like, “Yay, we are breaking the rules! Tablets and books are allowed at the dinner table tonight!” just so I could keep reading. I fell absolutely in love with Tau and his sword brothers. Though their tale is heartbreaking, it’s also fierce with brotherhood and resistance! This book was basically Gladiators meets Game of Thrones meets Red Rising. And the best part? Besides the bit of romance snuck in there? Everyone in it looked like me!
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: Chicago’s only black woman-owned bookstore, Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery!
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
As an educator and PhD student, Stamped is essential to everyone! We must educate ourselves in every capacity because it is the key to our existence and our legacy. How do you want to be remembered?
To read Stamped alongside Crystal and others, check out the read-along schedule here.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: Harriet’s Bookshop in Philadelphia. They’ve been amazing to me.
Hi, my name is Seline and I am a 23-year-old, Haitian-American book blogger over at @lifebytheink. I have been an avid reader since a young age with my favorite genres being fantasy, literary fiction, and classics! A few random things I love: traveling, the fine arts, shrimp tacos, and finding new rooftop bars.
Noughts and Crosses
Even though I have several favorite books written by Black authors, I will never forget the riveting, emotional impact of the Noughts & Crosses Saga by Malorie Blackman. The way she wrote on race and class-system dynamics through a non-traditional lens was impeccable. I can’t recommend them enough.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: As an Atlanta resident, I have to say my favorite Black-owned bookstore is Medu Bookstore! Their large selection of Black Literature cannot go unnoticed!
I’m an aspiring librarian and LIS student living my best life in sunny California by way of Tennessee. I love to dance, create artistic masterpieces, and gossip about my favorite fictional characters.
Equally hilarious, insightful, and honest, this memoir straightens the crowns of every queen.
Favorite Black-owned bookstores:
Marcus Book Stores
3900 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Oakland, CA 94609
Ashay By The Bay
157 Albatrosse Way,
Vallejo, CA 94589
My name is Jess from @jessreadit on Instagram. I’m 25 years old and I live in Orlando, FL. I’m a marketing student at UCF. Other than reading, I love all things nails, both nail polishes and press-on nails, and playing Animal Crossing.
I love a good coming of age story that sucks you in, and this novel does exactly that. Full Disclosure tells the story of Simone Garcia, a high school student living with HIV. The author, Camryn Garrett, does a beautiful job writing about the stigmas around HIV through the lense of a teenage girl. This book highlights a diverse group of characters from all walks of life, who set out to explore the ins and outs of sexual identity. Although this is a fictional novel, I learned a lot from this story and it will always resonate with me because there are real-life Simones out in the world.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: Mahogany Books! They are located in DC. Not only do they offer a wide variety of books by Black authors, they also feature authors in their Virtual Book Talks on social media. You can find them on instagram at @mahoganybooks.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my favorite books of all-time. I don’t remember many of the books I had to read for school, but I do remember this one. One of few books by Black authors I was assigned in high school, Purple Hibiscus was very instrumental in my journey as a reader. Although the book was set in Nigeria, I felt like I could see myself in the main character, fifteen-year-old Kambili. I didn’t become the avid reader that I am today until about 3 years ago. I struggled with finding books that I was interested in and for the longest I didn’t know why. Looking back at Purple Hibiscus, the feeling I got when reading that book made me realize that I needed to be actively seeking out Black books—books by Black authors that tell the stories of Black people.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: Mahogany Books (@mahoganybooks) in Washington, D.C. Not only do they host great events, but they specialize in the Black books that are so instrumental in making me the reader I am today.
I’m Bezi, a bookstagrammer who focuses on young adult literature, Afrofuturism, and Own Voices fantasy centering Black women; I recently graduated with a masters in English and wrote my thesis on the visibility of Black female fantasy protagonists.
The City We Became
N. K. Jemisin
One of my current favorite books by a Black author is The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin. Fantasy is my favorite genre, and Jemisin has been my favorite author since I wrote a chapter of my undergraduate honors thesis on the character of Yeine from her debut fantasy novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Since then, I have eagerly written as much of her published writing as I could find. I was excited to read the first installment of her newest trilogy, especially since The City We Became takes place in New York City, which is where I hope to move later this year. In Jemisin’s story, each borough of the city is embodied in a person, and they all have to come together to fight an ancient rising evil that wants to stop the city‘s impending birth. I love the multiracial cast that represents the multicultural makeup of New York City, deepened by complex characterization and careful specificity.
I also appreciate the way Jemisin explores the divisiveness embedded in the city and, by extension, in America—casually racist family members, cops, and “concerned” white women all play a role in the existential monster’s very real exploitation of fear and hatred. In doing so, Jemisin builds a mythology that appropriates and condemns Lovecraft’s racism, making his own ideas the monster he feared. The large majority of my bookstagram account focuses on fantasy by Black authors because I believe these stories celebrate the complexity of Black experiences and of our dreams of the future. We deserve to be seen not only in our rage and trauma, but also in our community building and joys. Jemisin, and other Black authors, wonderfully depict the empowerment we find in each other.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: Mahogany Books in D.C.
Hi, I’m Nkisu from @hoarding.chapters. I’m a 23-year-old book lover from Perth, Australia. 😊
Children of Blood and Bone
Children of Blood and Bone will forever hold a special place in my heart because as a Black, African reader, it was the first time I truly saw myself represented in a genre I absolutely love; fantasy! For once, the Black characters WEREN’T the side characters! I related to Zélie so much, not only because her skin was dark, but her loyalty, stubbornness and desire to do what was right, really resonated with me.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: I don’t have a favorite Black-owned bookstore unfortunately because there are no Black-owned bookstores where I live (at least that I know of 😓).
Hi. I’m Sol and I’m from New Orleans, LA. I am a language lover who also loves exploring bookstores. I live for good books, sunny beaches, and cold beer. I enjoy reading fiction, social science, poetry, and memoirs.
All Boys Aren't Blue
George M. Johnson
As a Black queer reader, I will forever fangirl over the fabulous George M. Johnson and his beautifully composed memoir-manifesto, All Boys Aren’t Blue. This book may be one of the most important and profound reads for the LGBTQIA+ community as it provides YA readers, and really all readers, with language, advice, and encouragement that many of us did not have growing up in order to better understand our identity and how to control our narrative. Reading All Boys Aren’t Blue invigorates my spirit and really speaks to the part in me that seeks clarity and validation of my own experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: My favorite Black-owned bookstore is Semicolon Bookstore located in Chicago, Illinois. It is the only bookstore in Chicago that is Black-woman owned and it’s mission caters to literature, art, and community development.
Dianca London Potts
I earned my MFA in fiction from The New School. I’m a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow, a VONA Voices alumna, and the former online editor of Well-Read Black Girl. My words have been featured in Lenny Letter, The Village Voice, Vice, and elsewhere. My memoir, Planning for the Apocalypse, is forthcoming from 37 Ink. I currently work and reside in Brooklyn.
I’ve been thinking a lot this past year about not only what it means to be Black, but how Blackness—and more specifically my Blackness—is rooted in joy, survival, the mourning of losses (known and unknown), and an ongoing resistance against suppression, silence, and erasure. I grew up in a painfully white suburb and was the only Black girl in my class until high school, and even then, I was one of three. It was, as you can imagine, a painful experience. At 13, I managed to find an outlet for my anger and grief through gothic subculture. Some consider being goth “a white thing” but its aesthetics that gave me permission to look at my grief directly, to memorialize it daily and gradually, my otherness became a choice, something I was proud of. Being a Black goth felt like having a superpower. Darkly: Black History and America’s Gothic Soul by Leila Taylor is the book I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Each page affirms what I knew all along: America is a synonym for horror and to survive within its borders is to be haunted. Taylor’s immersive and revelatory exploration of our nation’s macabre history and its ongoing inability to reckon with it, unapologetically centers Blackness and affirms that despite what a Google image search might suggest, “you can’t get more goth than Black.” This book is as holy as the hymns that my ancestors sang. Its pages roar with urgent truth.
Favorite Black-owned bookstore: Cafe con Libros in Crown Heights.
We’re highlighting some amazing Black bookstagrammers who are a vital part of the book community that we know and love. They’ve shared with us photos of their favorite books by Black authors and told us a little more about who they are and how books have changed them. We think their stories—and the stories they read—are important, now and and always. So give them all a follow—your Instagram feed will thank you and your TBR pile will grow.
Featured image: Crystal Forte (@melanatedreader)