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The ReadDown

Must-Read Books by Queer Black Authors

From laugh-out-loud memoirs to unforgettable novels, pick up these stories by classic and contemporary writers that we can’t recommend enough.

And this Pride Month, share your favorite book by an LGBTQ+ author and the words they wrote that inspired you to be you using #InYourWords on social media!

  1. 1
    Rainbow Milk Book Cover Picture
    Rainbow Milk Book Cover Picture

    Rainbow Milk

    by Paul Mendez

    An essential and revelatory coming-of-age narrative from a thrilling new voice, Rainbow Milk follows nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing.

    Rainbow Milk Book Cover Picture
    Rainbow Milk Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $26.95

    Also available from:

  2. 2
    The Stars and the Blackness Between Them Book Cover Picture
    The Stars and the Blackness Between Them Book Cover Picture

    The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

    by Junauda Petrus

    Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.
    The Stars and the Blackness Between Them Book Cover Picture
    The Stars and the Blackness Between Them Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $9.99

    Also available from:

  3. 3
    Skye Falling Book Cover Picture
    Skye Falling Book Cover Picture

    Skye Falling

    by Mia McKenzie

    A woman who’s used to going solo discovers that there’s one relationship she can’t run away from in this buoyant novel, a probing examination of the complexities of family, queerness, race, and community.

    Skye Falling Book Cover Picture
    Skye Falling Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  4. 4
    It's About Damn Time Book Cover Picture
    It's About Damn Time Book Cover Picture

    It’s About Damn Time

    by Arlan Hamilton and Rachel L. Nelson

    From a black, gay woman who broke into the boys’ club of Silicon Valley comes an empowering guide to finding your voice, working your way into any room you want to be in, and achieving your own dreams.
    It's About Damn Time Book Cover Picture
    It's About Damn Time Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  5. 5
    Memorial Book Cover Picture
    Memorial Book Cover Picture

    Memorial

    by Bryan Washington

    A funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you’re supposed to be, and the limits of love.

    Memorial Book Cover Picture
    Memorial Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  6. 6
    The Color Purple Book Cover Picture
    The Color Purple Book Cover Picture

    The Color Purple

    by Alice Walker

    A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience. The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery.
    The Color Purple Book Cover Picture
    The Color Purple Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  7. 7
    Dear Senthuran Book Cover Picture
    Dear Senthuran Book Cover Picture

    Dear Senthuran

    by Akwaeke Emezi

    In this extraordinary memoir, Akwaeke Emezi weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal.

    Dear Senthuran Book Cover Picture
    Dear Senthuran Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  8. 8
    Filthy Animals Book Cover Picture
    Filthy Animals Book Cover Picture

    Filthy Animals

    by Brandon Taylor

    A group portrait of young adults enmeshed in desire and violence, a hotly charged, deeply satisfying new work of fiction from the author of Booker Prize finalist Real Life.
    Filthy Animals Book Cover Picture
    Filthy Animals Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $26.00

    Also available from:

  9. 9
    The Passing Playbook Book Cover Picture
    The Passing Playbook Book Cover Picture

    The Passing Playbook

    by Isaac Fitzsimons

    Spencer Harris seems to have it all: a decent shot at a starting position on the boy’s soccer team, great friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The only problem is, no one at school knows Spencer is trans—he’s passing. Spencer has to decide if he should be true to himself even though it means coming out to everyone—including the guy he’s falling for.

    The Passing Playbook Book Cover Picture
    The Passing Playbook Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $17.99

    Also available from:

  10. 10
    Giovanni's Room Book Cover Picture
    Giovanni's Room Book Cover Picture

    Giovanni’s Room

    by James Baldwin

    In the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
    Giovanni's Room Book Cover Picture
    Giovanni's Room Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.00

    Also available from:

  11. 11
    Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Book Cover Picture
    Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Book Cover Picture

    Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

    by Geraldine Audre Lorde

    Zami is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author’s vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde’s work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her . . . Lorde brings into play her craft of lush description and characterization. It keeps unfolding page after page.”—Off Our Backs

    Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Book Cover Picture
    Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.99

    Also available from:

  12. 12
    The Prophets Book Cover Picture
    The Prophets Book Cover Picture

    The Prophets

    by Robert Jones, Jr.

    A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.
    The Prophets Book Cover Picture
    The Prophets Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  13. 13
    Wow, No Thank You. Book Cover Picture
    Wow, No Thank You. Book Cover Picture

    Wow, No Thank You.

    by Samantha Irby

    Samantha Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby’s new life. Wow, No Thank You. is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable.
    Wow, No Thank You. Book Cover Picture
    Wow, No Thank You. Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.95

    Also available from:

  14. 14
    Black Girl, Call Home Book Cover Picture
    Black Girl, Call Home Book Cover Picture

    Black Girl, Call Home

    by Jasmine Mans

    From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity. Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering Black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.

    Black Girl, Call Home Book Cover Picture
    Black Girl, Call Home Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.00

    Also available from:

  15. 15
    Here for It Book Cover Picture
    Here for It Book Cover Picture

    Here for It

    by R. Eric Thomas

    In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, R. Eric Thomas reexamines what it means to be an “other” through the lens of his own life experience. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, the exhaustion of code-switching in college, the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election for Elle online, and the seismic changes that came thereafter. Thomas re-envisions what “normal” means and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story.
    Here for It Book Cover Picture
    Here for It Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  16. 16
    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 is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both.

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

    Paperback
    $18.00

    Also available from:

  17. 17
    Sister Outsider Book Cover Picture
    Sister Outsider Book Cover Picture

    Sister Outsider

    by Audre Lorde

    In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Audre Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope.
    Sister Outsider Book Cover Picture
    Sister Outsider Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.99

    Also available from:

  18. 18
    Go Tell It on the Mountain Book Cover Picture
    Go Tell It on the Mountain Book Cover Picture

    Go Tell It on the Mountain

    by James Baldwin

    In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. Originally published in 1953, Baldwin said of his first novel, “Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.”
    Go Tell It on the Mountain Book Cover Picture
    Go Tell It on the Mountain Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.00

    Also available from:

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