Black Authors We Are Loving!

With February and thus Black History Month coming to an end, we wanted to compile this list of recommendations to encourage everyone to read books by Black authors all year long. There are titles from all different genres and even a couple pre-orders to look forward to. We hope you will read some of these incredible stories and continue to support and celebrate Black authors post-February and beyond.

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The Tradition by Jericho Brown

"Somehow this man I don't know broke my heart and put it back together in all a matter of 72 pages. I think my sister got tired of hearing me recite some of my favorite underlined bits to her so I will resign myself to giving Brown solitary poetry snaps in the corner. Please join me." - Emily (Lake Forest Park)



Works of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde, Roxane Gay (Editor), Roxane Gay (Introduction by)

“The phrase, ahead of her time, doesn't even do justice to who Audre Lorde was as a creative. Every time I read an essay or poem by her, I am left in awe of the artistry. Her words will move you and remind you that you got to get uncomfortable if you ever want to change the world around you.” - Rosa (Lake Forest Park)



The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America by Marcus J. Moore

“In the year 2020, this book needed to come out. Using the framework of the 4 albums of Kendrick Lamar, Marcus J. Moore writes a "cultural biography" to explain the intersection of hip-hop and the Black Lives Matter movement today. This is a timely read about one of the great popular musical artists of today.” - Kalani (Ravenna)



Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden's Profile Series by Stephanie Mayer Heydt, Robert G. O'Meally, Rachael Z. Delue

In 1977, Romare Bearden observed that the creative process was the art of "putting something over something else." An astute description not only for the collages in this collection but perhaps for life and time itself. Bearden used experience and memory as something fragmented, collected, and layered to create singular, vibrating pieces that synthesized the rural South of his childhood and his time in the Harlem art community in the North. Bearden's work continues to coax new understandings of the fragmentary nature of life and our connections to it and each other. - Em (Lake Forest Park)


Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 by Ibram X. Kendi (Editor), Keisha N. Blain (Editor)

“Outstanding! Features 90 Authors, each one writing about different periods of African American history beginning in 1619 to 2019. Covers the struggles and achievements faced by so many over the last 400 years. The laws of oppression and the victories of new laws put in place to overturn the injustice done to so many. This book is a bright star in a dark past.” - Sue (Lake Forest Park)


Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride

“Having read McBride's memoir, The Color of Water, years ago, I recently read his latest novel Deacon King Kong and it is a marvelous page-turner, filled with wonderful characters and laugh-out-loud humor. Now I just need to fill in the gaps with his other titles from in between.” - Mark (Ravenna)



Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

“A sharp coming-of-age novel filled with no easy answers but plenty of gray areas that showcase how intentions don't often match actions. Months after finishing this book, I still find myself thinking about the characters and their story.” - Kelly (Lake Forest Park)




Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater is a meditation on identity and interiority that plays with the figure of the obanje, an Igbo spirit. This was one of the most inventive and fascinating books I've read in a long time.” - Alyson (Ravenna)




Luster: A Novel by Raven Leilani

"Raven Leilani's Luster kept me fully engaged (which is saying something for 2020), but on top of that it held a harsh mirror to squirmy moments in my past. This is a book about women and women cleverly disguised by a story about women and men." - Kitri (Lake Forest Park)



I Am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel by Percival Everett

"Percival Everett is my favorite satirist and quite possibly the most reliably vital writer we have. No small feat with something like thirty titles to his credit. His tour de force, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, is the perfect gateway drug if you haven't yet introduced yourself to one of our greatest national treasures." - Wes (Lake Forest Park)



Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

“A true classic. A beautiful story of a woman who sets out to take her identity back after living through 3 marriages.” - Javi (Ravenna)




Escaping Exodus: A Novel by Nicky Drayden

“Wonderfully weird ecosystems inside of giant, tentacled space beasts AND relationship dynamics that will force you to confront your prejudice, privilege, and worldly responsibilities?! Only an author like Nicky Drayden can offer that and more in such a beautifully rendered package. Plus...the sequel, Symbiosis, published this week *gasp*.” - Katelynn (Lake Forest Park)



The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

"This novella will pull you in with its multifaceted black female characters working together with African Goddesses to protect the city of New Orleans from murderous confederate soldiers in this alternate history with steampunk vibes. Every line is dripping with atmosphere." - Nicole (Lake Forest Park)



Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

"Join 12 year old Sunny Nwazue as she uncovers her hidden magical abilities, gets inducted into a secret society where knowledge truly is power, and boldly faces off against all of the dark creatures the spirit world throws at her. Oh, and eats lots of fufu and egusi soup. Honestly, what's a good fantasy series without incredible feasts? And definitely check out Okorafor's latest two books that are supposed to be spectacular, a middle grade called Ikenga and an adult sci fi called Remote Control." - Anje (Lake Forest Park)


The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

"Mystery and slice-of-life combine in this middle grade triumph set on the backdrop of a California surftown. Follow Alberta and Edie as they navigate the changing tides of new and old friendships, while also uncovering the secrets found within old family journals. I loved this book!" - Claire (Lake Forest Park)



Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

“This thought provoking middle grade novel addresses the racism one brother faces because he is darker skinned and the refuge he finds in the sport of fencing.” - Rene (Lake Forest Park)




Twins: Graphic Novel by Varian Johnson, Shannon Wright (Illustrator)

“Fans of Raina Telgemeier will love this new series about twin sisters growing up together and apart as they begin middle school. A thoughtful journey through the ups and downs of sisterhood that voracious graphic novel readers and anyone with a sibling will enjoy immensely.” - Niki (Lake Forest Park)




Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters #3) by Talia Hibbert
Release Date: March 9th, 2021

“I am a big Talia Hibbert fan. Coming out in March, Act your Age, Eve Brown is the third book in the Brown sisters series.  Everything Hibbert writes is a sexy, joyful romp -- all featuring black heroines who struggle in life and love, like all of us do.” - Danielle (Lake Forest Park)



A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib
Release Date: March 30th, 2021

“Hanif Abdurraquib continues to surprise us in this new collection of essays on black performance. Each piece of this deeply personal book, is infused with the joy and rhapsody of witnessing great art. Yet they also bring to the surface and wrestle with the myriad of complex cultural associations even a single song, dance, or music video can evoke.” - Robert (Lake Forest Park)


The Selected Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts by J. Drew Lanham
Release Date: April 13th, 2021

"I am so excited for this remarkable upcoming collection of poetry and prose from J. Drew Lanham, a birder, naturalist, professor, and wanderer. His poems are rooted in the reverent delight of being "among the woods and the wetlands," and the rhythm and cadence of his lines brought me into that sense as well. Equally essential and evocative are his accounts of being a Black man in a predominantly white field and the questions he poses as he considers the sparrows." - Sarah R. (Lake Forest Park)

Sorrowland: A Novel by Rivers Solomon
Release Date: May 4th, 2021

Sorrowland is if Jeff VanderMeer and Octavia Butler joined forces to write about a governmental Jonestown-esque cult chasing after an escaped member with unexplained powers that she can barely control. Come for the fungal exoskeletons, stay for the powerful writing about generational trauma caused by a country born out of bloodshed.” - Sarah C. (Lake Forest Park)


For more book recommendations, make sure to follow us on social media @thirdplacebooks and @thirdplacebookskids!