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The ReadDown

25 Books by Contemporary Black Authors

Read some of the best fiction and nonfiction by contemporary black authors, including books in every genre from literary fiction to personal memoir. See why these writers are beloved and celebrated!

To highlight moments and voices during Black History Month, we’ve teamed up with StoryCorps. Find out more here.
  1. 1
    Well-Read Black Girl Book Cover Picture
    Well-Read Black Girl Book Cover Picture

    Well-Read Black Girl

    by Glory Edim

    An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.
    Well-Read Black Girl Book Cover Picture
    Well-Read Black Girl Book Cover Picture

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  2. 2
    We Cast a Shadow Book Cover Picture
    We Cast a Shadow Book Cover Picture

    We Cast a Shadow

    by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

    This electrifying, hallucinatory novel is at once a keen satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.
    We Cast a Shadow Book Cover Picture
    We Cast a Shadow Book Cover Picture

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  3. 3
    Homegoing Book Cover Picture
    Homegoing Book Cover Picture

    Homegoing

    by Yaa Gyasi

    Homegoing Book Cover Picture
    Homegoing Book Cover Picture

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  4. 4
    I Almost Forgot About You Book Cover Picture
    I Almost Forgot About You Book Cover Picture

    I Almost Forgot About You

    by Terry McMillan

    Bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale is back with the inspiring story of a woman who shakes things up in her life to find greater meaning.
    I Almost Forgot About You Book Cover Picture
    I Almost Forgot About You Book Cover Picture

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  5. 5
    We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Book Cover Picture
    We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Book Cover Picture

    We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.

    by Samantha Irby

    With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form.
    We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Book Cover Picture
    We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Book Cover Picture

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  6. 6
    Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club) Book Cover Picture
    Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club) Book Cover Picture

    Behold the Dreamers

    by Imbolo Mbue

    A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.
    Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club) Book Cover Picture
    Behold the Dreamers (Oprah's Book Club) Book Cover Picture

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  7. 7
    What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Book Cover Picture
    What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Book Cover Picture

    What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

    by Helen Oyeyemi

    Helen Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.
    What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Book Cover Picture
    What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Book Cover Picture

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  8. 8
    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere Book Cover Picture
    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere Book Cover Picture

    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

    by ZZ Packer

    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere Book Cover Picture
    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere Book Cover Picture

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  9. 9
    Loving Day Book Cover Picture
    Loving Day Book Cover Picture

    Loving Day

    by Mat Johnson

    A frequently hilarious, surprisingly moving story about blacks and whites, fathers and daughters, the living and the dead, Loving Day celebrates the wonders of opposites bound in love.
    Loving Day Book Cover Picture
    Loving Day Book Cover Picture

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  10. 10
    Queen Sugar Book Cover Picture
    Queen Sugar Book Cover Picture

    Queen Sugar

    by Natalie Baszile

    Readers, booksellers, and critics alike are embracing Queen Sugar and cheering for its heroine, Charley Bordelon, an African American woman and single mother struggling to build a new life amid the complexities of the contemporary South.
    Queen Sugar Book Cover Picture
    Queen Sugar Book Cover Picture

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  11. 11
    Everything's Trash, But It's Okay Book Cover Picture
    Everything's Trash, But It's Okay Book Cover Picture

    Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay

    by Phoebe Robinson

    Bestselling author and star of 2 Dope Queens Phoebe Robinson is back with a new, hilarious, and timely essay collection on gender, race, dating, and the dumpster fire that is our world.
    Everything's Trash, But It's Okay Book Cover Picture
    Everything's Trash, But It's Okay Book Cover Picture

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  12. 12
    Black Leopard, Red Wolf Book Cover Picture
    Black Leopard, Red Wolf Book Cover Picture

    Black Leopard, Red Wolf

    by Marlon James

    In the stunning first novel in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.
    Black Leopard, Red Wolf Book Cover Picture
    Black Leopard, Red Wolf Book Cover Picture

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  13. 13
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture

    Swing Time

    by Zadie Smith

    An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from North West London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture
    Swing Time Book Cover Picture

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  14. 14
    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture
    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture

    The Underground Railroad

    by Colson Whitehead

    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture
    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture

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  15. 15
    Born a Crime Book Cover Picture
    Born a Crime Book Cover Picture

    Born a Crime

    by Trevor Noah

    The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of Trevor Noah’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.
    Born a Crime Book Cover Picture
    Born a Crime Book Cover Picture

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  16. 16
    Black Is the Body Book Cover Picture
    Black Is the Body Book Cover Picture

    Black Is the Body

    by Emily Bernard

    Black is the Body is an extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir that looks at race–in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way–in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays.
    Black Is the Body Book Cover Picture
    Black Is the Body Book Cover Picture

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  17. 17
    Known and Strange Things Book Cover Picture
    Known and Strange Things Book Cover Picture

    Known and Strange Things

    by Teju Cole

    Persuasive and provocative, erudite yet accessible, Known and Strange Thingsis an opportunity to live within Teju Cole’s wide-ranging enthusiasms, curiosities, and passions, and a chance to see the world in surprising and affecting new frames.
    Known and Strange Things Book Cover Picture
    Known and Strange Things Book Cover Picture

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  18. 18
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture

    We Were Eight Years in Power

    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of our history and the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the most recent presidential election.
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture

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  19. 19
    Ordinary Light Book Cover Picture
    Ordinary Light Book Cover Picture

    Ordinary Light

    by Tracy K. Smith

    In Ordinary Light, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith tells her remarkable story, giving us a quietly potent memoir that explores her coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.
    Ordinary Light Book Cover Picture
    Ordinary Light Book Cover Picture

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  20. 20
    What We Lose Book Cover Picture
    What We Lose Book Cover Picture

    What We Lose

    by Zinzi Clemmons

    From an author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African-American woman coming of age—a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and country.
    What We Lose Book Cover Picture
    What We Lose Book Cover Picture

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  21. 21
    Americanah Book Cover Picture
    Americanah Book Cover Picture

    Americanah

    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    The bestselling novel from the award-winning author of We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele.
    Americanah Book Cover Picture
    Americanah Book Cover Picture

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  22. 22
    Five-Carat Soul Book Cover Picture
    Five-Carat Soul Book Cover Picture

    Five-Carat Soul

    by James McBride

    Five-Carat Soul Book Cover Picture
    Five-Carat Soul Book Cover Picture

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  23. 23
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads

    by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

    In 1994, Clemantine Wamariya and her sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries. Later, she seemed to live the American dream yet the years of being treated as less than human could not be erased. In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine recognizes the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks.
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture

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  24. 24
    Finding Gideon Book Cover Picture
    Finding Gideon Book Cover Picture

    Finding Gideon

    by Eric Jerome Dickey

    A professional job turns personal for jet-setting contract killer Gideon in this sexy, thrilling page-turner by bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey.
    Finding Gideon Book Cover Picture
    Finding Gideon Book Cover Picture

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  25. 25
    Ghana Must Go Book Cover Picture
    Ghana Must Go Book Cover Picture

    Ghana Must Go

    by Taiye Selasi

    Electric, exhilarating, and beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a sweeping narrative that takes readers from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, it is at once a portrait of a modern family and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are.
    Ghana Must Go Book Cover Picture
    Ghana Must Go Book Cover Picture

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