Black History Month 2019--Books for Adults and Teens

By Kathy Sexton

In honor of Black History Month, here are some recent titles celebrating Black lives that are perfect for adult and teen readers.

  • Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

    2018 by Blight, David W.

    Because he wrote autobiographies, much is known about Douglass. Yet, Blight not only fills in gaps in his life, especially during the Civil War and his later life, he also makes it accessible and engaging. This book was on lots of best-of-the-year lists, and several reviewers consider it to be the definitive autobiography of this great American man.

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  • Becoming

    2018 by Obama, Michelle

    Michelle Obama's story clearly inspires a whole lot of people, as this book sold two million copies faster than any previous autobiography written by a president or first lady.

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  • Heavy: An American Memoir

    2018 by Laymon, Kiese

    Kiese Laymon's memoir of race, poverty, and addiction is never easy to read but is always beautiful and moving. If you enjoy reading Ta-Nehisi Coates, try this. It also won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-Fiction and Audible's Audiobook of the Year.

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  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower

    2018 by Cooper, Brittney C.

    Cofounder of the Crunk Feminist Collective, Cooper uses her own southern upbringing and path to feminism to consider American history, politics, and pop culture.

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  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

    2018 by Khan-Cullors, Patrisse

    One of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Khan-Cullors uses her memoir to examine how her personal experiences with poverty, police, and prisons shaped a movement rooted in justice and humanity.

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  • Tigerland: 1968-1969, a City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing

    2018 by Haygood, Wil

    As the U.S. struggled through the Civil Rights movement during 1968, the baseball and basketball teams from an all Black, segregated school in Columbus, Ohio win the state championships amid threats, political turmoil, and overt racism. Colin Kaepernick was not the first time sports, politics, and social justice have collided.

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  • So You Want to Talk about Race

    2018 by Oluo, Ijeoma

    Oluo instructs readers on the importance of not only having hard, important conversations about race, but how to do so constructively. She does not shy away from contentious topics such as privilege, microaggressions, police brutality, and more, and she provides the skills and language to talk about these issues.

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  • Heads of the Colored People: Stories

    2018 by Thompson-Spires, Nafissa

    In stories that are at turns disturbing and funny, yet always engaging, Thompson-Spires writes about what it means to be Black in America today. If you were a fan of Paul Beatty's award winning The Sellout, you'll want to read this book.

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  • Friday Black

    2018 by Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame

    If you want to read something very different and very thought-provoking, this might be the book for you. This debut novel deals with race through a series of stories that are at times surreal, strange, and fantastical, while still hitting very close to home.

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  • How Long 'til Black Future Month?

    2018 by Jemisin, N. K.

    If you read science fiction or fantasy, you have likely heard of Jemisin, winner of multiple awards. This is her first book of short stories, and it features protagonists engaging in many forms of resistance, some of them otherworldly. A must read for anyone interested in Afrofuturism.

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  • An American Marriage

    2018 by Jones, Tayari

    Newlyweds Celestial and Roy's lives are turned upside down when he is arrested and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. This book is surprisingly provocative and can lead to discussions about race, justice, and marriage, making it a fantastic book discussion choice.

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  • Brown: Poems

    2018 by Young, Kevin

    Young, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and poetry editor of The New Yorker, presents a new collection of poems that explore black culture and heritage, including meditations on Mohammed Ali, James Brown, and Trayvon Martin.

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  • On the Come up

    2019 by Thomas, Angie

    The author of The Hate U Give returns! Bri is an aspiring rapper but the odds are working against her. Her father, an underground hip hop legend, recently died, her mother lost her job, and at school, Bri is referred to as a hoodlum. Up against all this, can she make it work?

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  • Ghost Boys

    2018 by Rhodes, Jewell Parker

    After 12-year-old Jerome is shot and killed by police, his ghost learns of the other ghost boys (including Emmett Till) left to roam until the racist violence comes to an end. The one person who can see Jerome? The daughter of the police officer who shot him.

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  • Pride

    2018 by Zoboi, Ibi Aanu

    Zoboi, sets her retelling of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" in contemporary Brooklyn in the gentrifying neighborhood of Bushwick. When the Darcys move into the newly renovated house across from Zuri Benitez's family, sparks fly and the culture clash becomes personal.

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