11 Summer Book Releases By Black Literary Mavens Guaranteed To Make The Season All The More Lit
Stories across the diaspora
Need a book to dive into while catching flights (not feelings) this summer? Or trying to find yourself through the written word? Well, there's a bevy of black-authored books sure to hit your literary spot this summer. We got you!
Here are our faves:
1. Take You Wherever You Go by Kenny Leon
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This is an excellent read for Broadway fans. The book follows the life of Kenny Leon, the director responsible for 2014's Tony-winning revival of A Raisin in the Sun, from rural Florida to Broadway. Leon's memoir explores the impact of the most influential people in his life, including his mother, grandmother and playwright August Wilson.
2. Ageless Vegan: The Secret to Living a Long and Healthy Plant-Based Life by Tracy and Mary McQuirter
Want to try a vegan diet? Need to update your recipe list? This book gives you meal ideas and good health habits to maintain a full life. Written from the perspective of mother-daughter duo Tracy and Mary McQuirter, who went vegan together 30 years ago, you know they didn't do this to follow a trend!
3. Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
The novel follows eighth grader Claudia, who seems to be the only person who notices her best friend Monday is missing. Monday's family is no help, and time's ticking, so Claudia has to play detective. This is a fictional story, but it addresses real issues like the treatment of missing black girls, race and poverty. It may be a young adult novel, but this is a must-read for all ages.
In 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sat down with a group of black scholars including James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Jerome Smith and Kenneth Clark. The conversation sent a shockwave through Kennedy's system, who left the meeting upset the panel interaction wasn't as easygoing as those he shared with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Still, he was inspired to change policy and race relations in America. In his book, Dyson continues that conversation and applies it to modern day race relations and politics.
“Dyson has finally written the book I always wanted to read.. .a tour de force...a poetically written work that calls on all of us to get back in that room and to resolve the racial crises we confronted more than fifty years ago," actor Harry Belafonte said about the book.
5. No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America by Darnell L. Moore
Life ain't no crystal stair when you're black and gay, and no one knows that better than Darnell Moore. When he was 14, a group of boys tried to set him on fire because they thought he was gay. He was able to escape this incident and has been fighting for his and everyone else's freedom ever since. This memoir follows his journey from a traumatized teenager to a freedom fighter.
6. Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey
You've seen her everywhere from a Maroon 5 music video to Summit21, and now, she's an author. Ramsey's memoir is a hilarious account of how one fateful Youtube video catapulted her into "accidental activism." She shares what worked, what didn't, how she navigates life on the internet and even her history as an internet s**t-talker.
7. How to Love a Jamaican: Stories by Alexia Arthurs
The stories of black immigrants are often missing from the nation's narrative, and in today's political climate, they are more critical than ever. Arthurs uses fiction to tell the real stories of Jamaican immigrants and their ties to their homeland. The stories are diverse, from a student dealing with race at an exclusive prep school to a troubled teen sent to the island for a dose of act-right from her grandma.
8. Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter
Y'all already know black women can do anything, and Painter's memoir is proof. After retiring from Princeton University, historian Dr. Nell Painter went back to school---for two art degrees. This book chronicles Painter's journey into the art world and the challenges she faced as an older black woman.
9. Lilith, but Dark by Nichole Perkins
This book of poetry follows a Southern black woman's journey through love and all the happiness, sorrow and pure agony that follows. It touches every piece of love you could experience from schoolyard puppy love to being wrapped around someone in bed. Writer Roxane Gay says Perkins "lays bare a black woman’s life, her love, her loss—how she has come apart and pulled herself back together, how she has wanted and been wanting." Yeah, we want some of that.
10. I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux
The title alone makes us want to pre-order this book. Arceneaux is a part of the who's who of Black Twitter and one of the best young writers of our generation. This collection of essays gives readers insight into his life as a black gay man with a sharp tongue and knee-slapping sense of humor. We know Arceneaux can do all things through Bey who strengthens him.
11. Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement by Janet Dewart Bell
Black women rarely get proper credit for their contributions to the fight for black liberation. Bell interviewed nine women who were in the trenches of the movement during the 1960s including former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver and Myrlie Evers, wife of slain activist Medgar Evans. Hopefully, this book will spark some change and ensure the present-day movement takes care of black women.