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10 Recommended Books to Read During Black History Month 2024

Black History month DartFrog Books blog

Is there any better feeling than being so engrossed in a book that you find yourself constantly thinking about the story and reaching for it whenever you have a moment of free time? I have yet to find something that tops this.

If you’ve found yourself in a reading slump or are just in the market for a really good book, I have ten unforgettable books to recommend.

All of the books mentioned below have had me sneaking in reading whenever I could find the time—in waiting rooms, in between classes, and into the wee hours of the night.

Each of these ten titles are written by Black authors and center on Black narratives.

By no means is this an all-encompassing list of books you should read in honor of Black History Month; these are just some of my favorites.

I’d also like to add that this list is meant to be read well beyond the month of February. Black stories are something that we should be reading, listening to, and amplifying every month of the year.

10 Recommended Reads (In No Particular Order):

1- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

Zora Neal Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is a classic in American literature. Readers follow Janie, the protagonist, from teenagehood to adulthood, in which her life is altered by the men she finds herself in a relationship with.

Hurston’s use of metaphors and similes accompanied by a distinct dialect truly situates readers in Janie’s world.

“Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”
—Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

2- Sula by Toni Morrison

Sula was the first novel I read by Morrison, and as soon as I finished it, I immediately picked up her other titles. Set against the backdrop of a small, poor town in Ohio, this novel follows two best friends, Sula and Nel, from childhood into adulthood.

Morrison’s complex characters provide insight into female friendship, betrayal, sexual autonomy, small-town antics, and how individuals and friendships change as time goes on.

“Because each had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they had set about creating something else to be.”
—Toni Morrison, Sula

3- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other is a novel told in parts from twelve different perspectives. I typically shy away from reading books told from multiple points of view, but Evaristo executes it seamlessly.

The common thread among each narrative lies in the shared identity of being Black in England. However, each person’s roots, gender identities, sexuality, age, etc., are all vastly different. This is a book about friendship, love, feminism, family, and Black womanhood.

“Ageing is nothing to be ashamed of. Especially when the entire race is in it together. Although sometimes it seems that she alone among her friends wants to celebrate getting older because it’s such a privilege to not die prematurely.”
—Bernadine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other

4- Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Another prolific author on this list is James Baldwin. His novel, Giovanni’s Room, is a profound and heartbreaking story that examines how love, sexuality, and masculinity operate under the scrutiny of society.

Having access to Baldwin’s graceful, intentional, and lyrical language truly feels like a privilege.

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
—James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

5- The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

The Women of Brewster Place is another story told from multiple perspectives of different women who all reside in the bleak community of Brewster Place. Through the seven different stories, readers will connect with each character’s hopes, devastations, and lives deeply.

In telling each woman’s story, Naylor examines the highs and lows of the human condition and the strength of the community.

“They were hard-edged, soft-centered, brutally demanding, and easily pleased, these women of Brewster Place.”
—Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place

6- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This multigenerational story is an exploration of racial identity, family bonds, and what it means to live authentically in a world that demands conformity.

Brit Bennett’s novel looks at race largely through the lens of colorism in the United States. The Vanishing Half is an epic tale of sisterhood, reckoning with the past and honoring your roots.

“She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.”
—Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half

7- all about love by bell hooks

Bell Hooks is a true visionary. all about love changed my life, and I am confident that it has changed the lives of many other readers.

Love is a force that governs public and private life but is rarely spoken about. hooks’ book challenges readers to think deeply about what it means to love and how this force influences so many parts of our lives.

“When we choose to love we choose to move against fear—against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect—to find ourselves in each other.”
—bell hooks, is all about love

8- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Many required reads in high school were less than enjoyable, but Invisible Man is a rare case where I feel forever indebted to my English teacher for assigning it.

With ardent prose, Ellison tells the coming-of-age story of our unnamed protagonist’s journey as he grapples with identity. This is not only a book that demands to be read but is a book that should be read over and over again.

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.”
—Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

9- The 1619 Project by Nikole-Hannah Jones

The 1619 Project is a compilation of essays, fiction, and poetry that all explore the legacy of American slavery. This book shines a light on the history that has intentionally been left out of school curriculums and textbooks.

This compilation reframes American history by detailing a dark past while also highlighting resistance and bravery displayed by individuals in the face of brutal oppression.

“If we are truly a great nation, the truth cannot destroy us.”
—Nikole-Hannah Jones, The 1619 Project

10- Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia E. Butler combines science fiction with American history to create a chilling story that revolves around Dana, a Black woman living in the 1970s, involuntarily time-traveling back to the Antebellum South.

Butler, a trailblazer for Black women in the science fiction genre, analyzes humanity and the horrors of American slavery through a sci-fi lens in Kindred.

“Repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of “wrong” ideas.”
—Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

For more  recommendations, check out these links to YouTube creators who have shared their must-reads: