Have You Read These? 50 Good Books Every Black Woman Should Check Out

November 9, 2012  |  


From Essence 

I was born May 21—last day of Taurus, first day of Gemini and just over a week away from the unofficial start of summer—so naturally, I blossom in warm weather. I’m out and about in sundresses and stilettos, I’m socializing at farmers’ markets, I’m accepting Evites and going to meet-ups. But come October, when the wind starts getting a little bite on it and November, when it is officially too cold to do something as simple as getting the mail without tugging on a coat and hat, I transition into hibernation mode.

I love the change of seasons on the east coast, but that chilly air is the perfect impetus to stay in the house, make sweatpants and fuzzy socks my uniform and get some serious reading done. Here, in no particular order—except for the first one, which is my absolute, all-time favorite—are 50 books that challenge us to think, feel, reflect, understand, stretch ourselves, believe, get mad, find peace, seek resolution.

It is by no means a comprehensive list. I don’t even think we could create one because somewhere, someone is writing a great book right at this very moment that will ultimately deserve a space on many of our must-read rolls. But I hope it at least serves as a jump-off point for some thoughtful, purposeful literary consumption until the springtime thaw (which is March 20, in case you’re counting days).

Check out the list at Essence 

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  • FromUR2UB

    I used to read a lot of J California Cooper’s books, which are usually collections of short stories, though she has written at least a couple of novels. I’ve long wondered why no one had made a movie about one of her books, in the vain of the old “Love American Style” TV show. Her stories are often set in earlier time periods, about very ordinary people who live some day-to-day heartbreaks such as dire loneliness or an abusive marriage, but manage to triumph over their circumstances. She mixes a little humor into the subject matter, so you empathize for the protaganist without it getting too heavy.

  • Guest

    I read “Things Fall Apart” and I liked it a lot! I also read “The Bluest Eye” and I didn’t care for it. It was too depressing!

  • Na Na

    Also I HIGHLY recommend the Autobiagraphy of Angela Davis, that is one of the most soul stirring, awe inspiring and motivational book Ive ever read.

  • Brooklynarcher

    I read a couple of books on the list and loved it all! I suggest some of my favorites

    1)The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
    2)God Don’t Like Ugly by Mary Monroe
    3)Cane River by Lalita Tademy

    4)Married Men by Carl Weber
    5)and the Vampire Huntress Series by Leslie E. Banks (r.i.p).

    • brooklyarcher

      oh and let me just say that The Vampire Huntress Series by Miss Banks is not some Twilight type stuff. It’s VERY adult and explores spirituality and how to interpret and enforce that while being who we are-human. It’s very entertaining and highly underrated and seriously changed my life! lol seriously

    • Na Na

      EVERY Mary Monroe book has been incredible to me!

      • brooklynarcher

        lol yass! She makes me embarrass myself every time i read her books in public!

        • LOL I have read several books that have made me BUST out laughing in public, looking crazy!! & I’d recommend EVERY book by Carl Weber as well!!

          • brooklynarcher

            lolol yes! i live for miss monroe! and i’m re-reading one of Weber’s books now. He has good shock value which i love

  • Interesting list… maybe i should check some out…

  • MLS2698

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The author of a good book does not have to be black.

    • Tisha

      I saw that at the library im going to go back and get it.

      • MLS2698

        When I read it, I found that the town I live in was historically linked to her life because of ” The Jones Institute.”

  • realadulttalk

    Not on the list–but one I highly recommend. A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown. Such a good read!!!!

    • Tisha

      I agree!

  • Great list!