ICYMI, it's Black History Month—which, of course, is not the only time you should be reading books by Black authors. But it's a nice reminder that when you find yourself reaching for The Notebook yet again to crack open one of these Black-made masterpieces instead. There's something in this mix for everyone—from mind-blowing science fiction to heartwarming memoirs—all with one thing in common: They were written by a Black woman, including icons like Toni Morrison and Michelle Obama. Their experiences are uniquely Black and female, but also relatable and moving for people of any color or gender. These black authors have thought of it all.
There aren't many authors who deserve the title of Icon, but Toni Morrison is definitely one of them. The Pulitzer and Nobel Prize–winning author of 11 novels and professor emeritus of literature at Princeton University crafts unparalleled prose that will cut deep into you and stay there for a very, very long time. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl whose desire for blue eyes (a.k.a. whiteness) obstructs her ability to see her own beauty. Caution: Heartstrings will be pulled.
If you got through 2018 without reading Tayari Jones' An American Marriage, you played yourself. And you need to rectify that in 2019. Jones tells the story of a newlywed couple, Celestial and Roy, who are unexpectedly separated when Roy is convicted of a crime his wife swears he didn't commit. Five years later Roy returns home, but he and Celestial struggle to rekindle their relationship beecause...Celestial has found comfort in Roy's friend and former best man. Juicy!
When forever First Lady, Michelle Obama, releases a book, you read it. You just do. And not only because of who she is, but because of what you know she'll bring to the table. Her memoir Becoming offers up an insightful revisiting of her time both in and out of the White House, all while addressing some of society's most troubling issues, including racism and sexism. But you don't have to take only my word for it: The tome was #ReadWithMC's (Marie Claire's virtual book club) December pick; see what our community thought here.
Want a romantic comedy you read instead of watch? Pick up a copy of The Wedding Date. Author Jasmine Guillory tells the sweet (and funny) story of Alexa Monroe and Drew Nichols, two people trapped in an elevator who spontaneously agree to be each other's wedding dates. This book is bursting with charm and hot sex scenes, and the main character, Alexa, isn't your typical doe-eyed girl searching for the right man, either. She's a curvy Black women and Chief of Staff to the mayor. No pigeon-holed archetypes allowed!
We Should All Be Feminists is more than just an essay. It's a call to action, a rallying cry, and a personal narrative. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is asking readers to reclaim and redefine the term feminist to create a more inclusive and intersectional community willing to fight for the equality of all women. Read this and then tell me you don't want to stick it to the patriarchy. I'll wait.
Calling all sci-fi fiends! If you haven't yet experienced afrofuturism, start with Nnedi Okarafor and this book. Her writing, particularly in The Book of Phoenix examines the rocky and problematic course of humanity through captivating science fiction. Think Divergent meets Hunger Games meets Black Panther—minus the official superhero titles. The Book of Phoenix first takes place in Tower 7, home of the superhuman woman, Phoenix. But after a tragic event, the gifted girl realizes that dismantling the prison she's called home is just the start of her new reality.
The Hate U Give is a heartbreaking and powerful narrative detailing the current black experience in America as told through the eyes of a 16-year-old girl. Author Angie Thomas pairs modern-day political references with old-school critical race theory to explain how we got to our current climate and what it will take to rebuild. Read the book, then watch the movie.
Roxane Gay is an incredibly sharp writer whose style and diction will make you quiver. In her memoir Hunger, the Haitian-American queer author brings a gut-wrenching honesty and perspective to how our society handles body positivity and sexual assault via a range of personal stories and experiences.
The Sun is Also a Star is a non-negotiable must-read. One, because we all secretly love YA fiction. And two, because Nicola Yoon does YA better than most. Her best-selling novel follows the story of Natasha and Daniel, a young couple who meet and fall in love 48 hours before Natasha's family is scheduled to be deported to Jamaica.
Let your imagination run wild with this immersive novel written by Octavia Butler. Dawn tells the story of Lilith, a human who's been asleep for centuries, while Earth has supposedly died. She wakes to find herself living amongst an alien race known as the Oankali who are working to convince Lilith they've saved her. But there are more than two sides to this story.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.