Black History Month Recommended Reads for Adults & Teens

In honor of Black History Month, here are some excellent titles by black authors and featuring black characters that are perfect for adult and teen readers.

  • Difficult Women

    2017 by Roxane Gay

    This collection of forceful short stories by the award-winning author of Bad Feminist explores the lives, loves, and human connections experienced by its female protagonists. The women in these stories lead lives of privilege and of poverty and are in marriages both loving and haunted by the past.

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  • The Underground Railroad : a novel

    2016 by Colson Whitehead

    The winner of the 2016 National Book Award for fiction, Whitehead's beautifully written, page-turning novel reimagines the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad. Readers follow Caesar and Cora through a terrifying and treacherous attempt to escape from slavery on a cotton plantation in Georgia.

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  • Homegoing

    2016 by Yaa Gyasi

    This sprawling historical novel covers 300 years and tells the story of two half sisters from two different tribes in 18th Century Ghana. One marries an English colonial and one is sold into slavery; each situation has lasting effects on their descendants.

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  • The Mothers : a novel

    2016 by Brit Bennett

    When Nadia was 17, her mother committed suicide. Since then Nadia has felt somewhat adrift. This beautiful debut novel follows Nadia in her adult years as she forges new relationships, figures out how she wants to live, and susses out her connections to family both present and past.

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  • Another Brooklyn : a novel

    2016 by Jacqueline Woodson

    This book, a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award, is a fictional memoir that feels like a fever dream from the powerful and poetic writer Jacqueline Woodson. It's the story of August and her friends' coming of age in 1970s Brooklyn where poverty, sex, and hope combine to thrust them into adulthood and apart from each other.

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  • Blood at the Root : a racial cleansing in America

    2016 by Patrick Phillips

    In 1912, after a young white woman is found raped and beaten, the black citizens of Forsyth County, Georgia are run out of town. Decades later not much has changed in the county and Phillips, who moved there as a young boy, uncovers the history of racial terrorism in a place untouched by the Civil Rights Movement.

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  • Never Look an American In the Eye : a memoir

    2016 by Okey Ndibe

    If you're looking for a funny, charming, and endearing memoir, choose this.

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  • Behold the Dreamers : a novel

    2016 by Imbolo Mbue

    Kirkus Reviews calls this "realistic, tragic, and still remarkably kind to all its characters, this is a special book." That means a lot coming from Kirkus.

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  • Swing Time

    2016 by Zadie Smith

    With a little bit of Rihanna, some enigmatic social media drama, and relationships spanning several decades, Booker-award winning author Zadie Smith's latest novel starts with two mixed-race girls who couldn't be more different. An unnamed narrator talks about meeting Tracey, an aspiring dancer in 1980s Britain, and thus begins a sprawling story that takes place on three continents and meditates on the beauty of dance, the tenuousness of facts, and the challenges of charity.

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  • Year of Yes

    2015 by Shonda Rhimes

    Are you a fan of Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, or How to Get Away With Murder? These shows all live in Shondaland, the media landscape of Shonda Rhimes—a woman whose memoir explores the power of saying yes and the opportunities this presents for success and fulfillment.

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  • Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? : stories

    2016 by Kathleen Collins

    This collection of short stories from the marvelous filmmaker, playwright, and writer Kathleen Collins is the shimmering tip of the iceberg on an impressive body of work. Her stories are funny, infuriating, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and everything else you would want in a short story collection.

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  • All American Boys

    2015 by Jason Reynolds

    "When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints." (from NoveList)

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  • The Sun Is Also a Star

    2016 by Nicola Yoon

    "Natasha, whose family is hours away from being deported, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American who strives to live up to his parents' expectations, unexpectedly fall in love and must determine which path they will choose in order to be together." (from NoveList)

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  • March

    2013 by John Lewis

    This graphic novel series, now up to three volumes, chronicles U.S. Representative John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Book Three has won so many awards and medals, they'll need to redesign the cover to accommodate them.

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  • Piecing Me Together

    2017 by Renée Watson

    "Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school's amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls." (from NoveList)

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