25 Books By Black Authors From 2015 You Need To Read

This year was filled with thought-provoking, page-turning, nail-biting and “aha” inducing literature.

From fiction to non-fiction, there were some undoubtedly moving books by black authors that deserves a spot on everyone’s bookshelf or Kindle. The poignant words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, who won the National Book Award, are all too vital given today’s racial climate, while producer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes makes overcoming a personal obstacle as simple as saying “yes.” These along with Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child, Mat Johnson’s Loving Day and Joy-Ann Reid’s Fracture have made this a great year for black authors. Take a look at some of our favorites.

    • God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison
      Amazon
      The prolific Toni Morrison returned this year with her first novel set in the current time. The book details a young woman who realizes the way a child is treated has a significant impact on who that child will become in adulthood.
    • Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
      Amazon
      Groundbreaking television producer Shonda Rhimes’ memoir on overcoming her introverted ways chronicles her life as she steps outside of her shell and learns to empower and trust herself with one word: yes.
    • Bewtween the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
      Amazon
      Ta-Nehisi Coates’ letter to his son on the idea of race and the damages it causes black bodies is a “required read,” according to Toni Morrison. Earning the National Book Award, Between the World and Me is a thoughtfully passionate piece of non-fiction.
    • The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae
      Amazon
      Issa Rae made awkward cool with her award-winning webseries “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” Now, the producer has taken her own awkward experiences and turned them into a collection of essays of navigating the world as an introverted black woman.
    • Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi
      Amazon
      Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird, set in 1953, explores Boy Novak’s quest for beauty in Massachusetts. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to Snow, and eventually mothers a child of her own whom she name Bird. Boy, Snow and Bird become divided as colorism comes into play, yet they are still curious about one another as they “confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.”
    • The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind, edited by Claudia Rankine, Beth Loffreda and Cap Max King
      Amazon
      Alongside Loffreda and King, Rankine revisits the topic of race in this collection of thoughtful essays, generated from an open letter she created, which invited writers to ponder on how to write about race.
  • Jam on the Vine, by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
    Amazon
    Barnett takes her readers on a journey with young Ivoe Williams as she discovers a passion for journalism and pursues higher education, which eventually leads to her moving out of the Jim Crow South as she starts the first black newspaper run by a woman.
  • The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America, by Tamara Winfrey Harris
    Amazon
    Harris challenges the stereotypes black women face by shining a light on their experiences, delving into marriage, motherhood, health, sexuality, beauty and more.
  • Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace, by Patricia Raybon and Alana Raybon
    Amazon
    This book explores the challenges of a mother and daughter’s relationship — Patricia, a Christian, and Alana, a Muslim — as they practice different religions.
  • Fracture, by Joy-Ann Reid
    Amazon
    In this book, MSNBC national correspondent Joy-Ann Reid shows that despite the progress we have made, this country is still a nation divided. Despite having a black president, the racial divide is ever-present. Reid analyzes the relationship between Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, and how their approaches to the race issue parallel the Democratic party’s challenges.
  • The Truth About Awiti, by CP Patrick
    Amazon
    In this tale, Awiti‘s life changed forever when slave raiders arrived at her village. She was separated from her family and her sadness turned into rage that created tropical storms that devastated the South, leaving an impact on how the trans–Atlantic slave trade affected the physical and spiritual realms.
  • Negroland, by Margo Jefferson
    Amazon
    This Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former New York Times columnist details growing up among a well-to-do black community in Chicago, analyzing how her life experiences helped her analyze race and privilege.
  • Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, by Pamela Newkirk
    Amazon
    Newkirk reveals the exploitation a young Congolese man who was brought from his home country and exhibited at a New York zoo alongside an orangutan.
  • Queen Sugar, by Natalie Baszile
    Amazon
    In this novel, protagonist Charley unexpectedly inherits eight hundred acres of sugarcane land. She and her eleven-year-old daughter move from Los Angeles to Louisiana for the land but soon realizes that cane farming is still a white man’s business as she struggles to balance farm upkeep and her own desires.
  • The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy
    Amazon
    After more than 50 years, ailing matriarch Viola was forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son. Then the family finds out that their home is only worth a tenth of its mortgage and must decide their beloved home’s fate.
  • Loving Day, by Mat Johnson
    Amazon
    In this work of non-fiction, Warren Duffy returns to America after his marriage fails, his business folds and his father dies. Shortly after his return, he meets a teenage girl who turns out to be his daughter and has been raised to believe she is white.
  • The Light of the World: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Alexander
    Amazon
    Alexander’s memoir takes on the impact of love, family, art and community as she copes with her husband’s death while conquering how to celebrate a life well-lived.
  • A Moment of Silence, by Sister Souljah
    Amazon
    New York Times bestseller Sister Souljah returns to the story of Midnight, a young Muslim man fighting the evils he faces in Brooklyn, in her third installment of this saga.
  • Ghost Summer: Stories, by Tananarive Due
    Amazon
    In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes her readers to a small town that has both literal and figurative ghost, featuring an award-winning novella and 15 haunting stories.
  • The Sellout, by Paul Beatty
    Amazon
    This satirical novel tackles slavery, police violence, gangs and racial discrimination in a so-called “post-racial” America.
  • Balm, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
    Amazon
    Balm explores post-Civil War novel in Chicago through a trio who fight to survive in a community that’s trying to move on from the pain of the war and slavery.
  • The Abduction of Smith and Smith, by Rashad Harrison
    Amazon
    This novel, set in the post-Civil War era, follows a former slave and Union soldier as he clashes with his former master’s son.
  • Ordinary Light: A Memoir, by Tracy K. Smith
    Amazon
    Ordinary Light is Smith’s memoir. It’s the story of her as a young woman struggling to form “her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.”
  • Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal, by Wendy S. Walters
    Amazon
    Walters explores race, gender and identity as they coincide with navigating society through a series of insightful essays.
  • Black Man In A White Coat, by Damon Tweedy
    Amazon
    Black Man in a White Coat looks at the ways race plays into medicine. As Tweedy matriculates from medicinal studies to a practicing physician, he finds how often race influences his encounters with patients.