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Diversify your reading lists: 5 books by black authors to read this Black History Month

a bookshelf filled with rows of multicolored books

By Amy St. Amand

Black History Month is a time for learning, growing, and appreciating. That means something different to everyone, but to me, it means reading. As a self-proclaimed (and proud) book nerd, reading allows me to challenge my own perspectives, learn about other people and grow into a more thoughtful human. Some of the suggestions below are personal faves, and some are classics you really should just have read.

  1. Beloved by Toni Morrison

This book is not for everyone. It’s confusing and strange and deeply upsetting. But it’s also beautiful and poignant and challenging. Toni Morrison is one of the greats, and while Beloved may not be her most accessible work, it’s enthralling. Give it a shot, and you (hopefully) won’t regret it.

2.      Dawn by Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler is one of the most influential voices in science fiction. Her work is thought-provoking and will make you question ALL your beliefs. Dawn, specifically, raises questions about gender and sex and identity in a way that had me rethinking everything I held dear. It’s another one that is weird and challenging, but oh-so rewarding.

3.      Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

This book combines myth and legend and culture and weaves all of them into a truly entertaining and fantastic tale. It’s set in post-apocalyptic Toronto and features numerous strong female characters. The way magic is depicted is unique and heavily rooted in Afro-Caribbean folklore.

4.      Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

To be fair, I am only a chapter into this…but it’s so good I felt compelled to put it on this list. Critics have likened this book to Game of Thrones, so if you’re in the mood for an epic fantasy, pick this up. The cover art is beyond gorgeous, and so far, the prose has been captivating. And it’s already been optioned for film rights!  

5.      The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

My preference for emotionally heavy books is showing. The main character, Aminata, is kidnapped and forcibly taken to America to become enslaved. The novel follows her life as she fights for her freedom. This book is not an easy read—Hill puts Aminata through some extremely traumatising events, but his masterful prose makes you want to continue reading in search of a happy ending. 

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