10 Books to read for Black History Month


The Bluest Eye and Their Eyes Were Watching God are some books to read for Black History Month. | Photo from Aliyah Rodriguez.

Aliyah Rodriguez, Features & Lifestyle Editor

In a world where Black stories are often told through a white gaze in film, one may wish to turn to novels written by Black authors that will give them a different perspective on life. From autobiographies to memoirs, realistic fiction to fantasy, iyou’re interested in Black stories written by Black authors, here are 10 books for you:  

“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison 

The novel takes place in Lorain, Ohio (Morrison’s hometown), and follows a young African American girl named Pecola who grows up in the years after the Great Depression. Pecola is often regarded as “ugly” throughout the novel because of her dark skin, resulting in her desire for the blue eyes that she equates with “whiteness. The novel touches on controversial topics such as racism, child molestation and incest.  

“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi 

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel and the first in a series, the novel takes place in the fictional land of Orïsha, inhabited by magical diviners and non-magical kosidánThe novels follows Zélie Adebola as she tries to restore the magic that a king has removed from Orïsha through the genocide of her people.  

“Clap When You Land” by Elizabeth Acevedo 

This dual narrative novel follows Camino Rios and Yahaira Rios, two sisters separated by a secret. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic and loves when her father comes to visit, while Yahaira Rios lives in New York City with her family. One fateful day, both girls learn that they lost their father in a plane crash. The two girls deal with loss, grief, the difficulty of forgiveness and the unforgettable bonds that can form in times of great pain.  

“If Beale Street Could Talk” by James Baldwin 

In Baldwin’s first novel that focuses solely on a Black story, themes of love in Black life are explored. The book follows a relationship between Tish and Fonny. The two become engaged, Tish becomes pregnant and their marriage faces a series of turbulent trials that threatens to tear them apart.  

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou  

Angelou’s autobiography follows her life from the age of three to 17 and the struggles she faces growing up in the South. At a young age, Maya and her brother are sent by their mother to live with their grandmother where they have early encounters with racism. At 8-years-old Maya is attacked by a man and spends the rest of her life dealing with the consequences. As Maya grows older, she learns to love herself as well as find her own voice in the world – inspired by the ideas of great authors. 

“The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison 

From the perspective of an unnamed narrator, the novel focuses on the social and intellectual issues African Americans faced in the early 20th century. The novel address issues such a Black nationalism through a group similar to the Nation of Islam, Black identity, personal identities and the racial policies of Booker T. Washington. The naïve narrator’s life goes from bad to worse as he struggles to navigate through a world that works against him.  

“Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” by Frederick Douglass 

In this 1845 memoir, Douglass recounts his life as a slave and his desire to become a free man. His story is told across 11 chapters and is generally regarded as the most famous narrative written by a former slave. The memoir is also considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature. The memoir is a treatise on abolition and features two introductions by white abolitionists who argued for the accuracy and validity of Douglass’ account, as well as his literacy.   

“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston  

Set in Florida in the early 20th century, the novel explores Janie Crawford’s coming of age from a voiceless teenage girl to a woman in charge of her own destiny. It’s hard for Janie to make her way in the world as a Black woman in the 30s, but her journey of self-discovery takes her through three tumultuous marriages and a journey back to her roots.  

Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi 

28-year-old PhD candidate Gifty is in her fifth year studying neuroscience at Stanford University when she receives a call that her mother, who suffers from a deep depressionis not feeling well. Gifty sends for her mother so she can take care of her and is overwhelmed by the memory of the first time she experienced her mother’s deep depressive phases at the age of 11.  

“The Vanishing Half” by Britt Bennet 

With a story spanning across five decades, this multi-generational family saga follows identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes. The light-skinned twins were raised down south and witnessed the lynching of their father at an early age. The twins run away and are separated – eventually leading their separate lives. Desiree gets married, has a child and eventually moves back home while Stella moves to California – passing as a white woman.