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What to Read for Black History Month

Black History Month book recommendations

When I decided to do a list of recommended reads for Black History Month, I had a difficult time narrowing down the number of books I wanted to recommend.

There are the classic fiction authors like James Baldwin, whose writing and anti-racist activism made him the target of FBI surveillance in the 1960s. Octavia Butler’s creativity is a unique genre that has transcended dystopian novels and inspired Afro-futurism and hip-hop artists such as Talib Kweli.

There are many classic non-fiction books written by authors that have laid a foundation of understanding for me, and given me tools to see and analyze the world. Frantz Fanon and C.L.R. James are two of my favorite authors who write about the process of fighting against colonization with such passion and clarity that you can feel the words jumping off the pages and springing into life.

Reading the classics is essential to understand how we got to where we are today as a society. In order to think about where we are going next, we have to look back in history. There are several contemporary authors and books about contemporary issues that are building on that tradition of analyzing society can’t be ignored. There are many contemporary black authors writing award-winning books, but the reality is that black authors are still fighting in the publishing world to get their voices heard.

Some include author Nicole Dennis-Benn, who was raised in Jamaica and lives in NYC, who is tackling complex subjects in her novels from a working- class black woman’s perspective, such as the colonial relationship to tourism. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is bringing important questions and analysis in her writing of the Black Lives Matter movement, and what potential it has to move forward.

If you stop by the library during February, you can check out our Black History Month display and pick up one of our flyers with recommendations in four categories:

Non-fiction with Contemporary Topics and New Autobiographies

Non-fiction: History and Autobiographies

Contemporary Fiction and Poetry

Classic Fiction, Poetry, and Plays

There are still many books I didn’t have room for, so stop by the Information Services desk the next time you’re in the library and let us know who your favorite black authors are!

Happy Black History Month!

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