Recommendations for Black History Month
In recognition of Black History Month, I wanted to share some things you can buy to support Black founders and writers. All links to purchase the books listed below go to Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Center, which donates a percentage of sales to The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund for Black girls, women, and gender-noncomforming people. Most if not all of the books can also likely be found at your favorite local book store.
1. Shop Make It Black: last year, I purchased a couple items during BHM to support Uoma Beauty founder Sharon Chuter’s Pull Up for Change initiative. The initiative is back again with another batch of beauty products; 100% of net proceeds from purchases will go to support early-stage Black founders. I ordered a couple items from the collection, which you can shop here or at sites like Ulta, Flower Beauty, and Uoma Beauty.
2. Luster: I devoured this debut novel by Raven Leilani in two days. I had seen people posting about it on Instagram and recently ordered myself a copy. I absolutely loved Leilani’s writing style. The story of an aimless, horny young Black woman in her early 20s trying to survive life in NYC truly sucked me in. There’s more to the story than that, though, but I don’t want to spoil anything here. I highly recommend this book.
3. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood: I listened to this audiobook, which was a great way to consume the book because it’s read by The Daily Show host and author himself, Trevor Noah. Audiobooks can be hit or miss depending on the reader. In my opinion, Noah reading his own story very much enhanced his words. I learned a lot about South Africa, apartheid, and the country’s culture; Noah tells stories in an entertaining way even though the topics can be dark at times.
4. The Colossus of New York: Colson Whitehead’s book is almost 20 years old, but I finally got around to reading it (i.e., I listened to the audiobook, again read by the author). As someone who lived in New York City for more than fifteen years, this book is such a vivid and stark-yet-accurate meditation on the city. I actually knew nothing about this book before reading it and had assumed it was a novel, which it isn’t. Though I don’t want to live in NYC again, the book still gave me all the nostalgic feels.
5. Between the World and Me: another book I had been meaning to read for quite some time. I listened to this audiobook as well, which Ta-Nehisi Coates read. There’s just something about an author reading their own work that makes it feel that much more personal. Especially when, as with this book, it’s written as a letter to his own son. The book explores what it’s like to be a Black man in America, as Coates talks through his own experiences. Another very solid and important read that may be uncomfortable if you’re White (a feeling that we should not judge as a bad thing).
A quick note: I gravitate toward nonfiction, which is why only one of the four books here is fiction. I’d love to hear recommendations for fiction by Black authors, so if you have any favorites, feel free to leave them in the comments!