Beach season is almost here, and naturally, the first thing you're going to want to do is to get some great books together to read as you relax in the sun. Whether you like fiction, thrillers, or memoirs, these Black authors have you covered.
Let's take a look at these ten books you need to add to your beach reading list.
Island Queen by Vanessa Riley
Vanessa Riley's novel brings a woman named Doll to vivid life as she rises above the harsh realities of slavery and colonialism by working the system and leveraging the competing attentions of the men in her life. The novel is based on the life of Dorothy Kirwin Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies. It's scheduled for a July 2021 release, but you can pre-order it here.
Self-Care for Grief: 100 Practices for Healing During Times of Loss By Nneka M. Okona
If this past pandemic year has done nothing else, it's taught us more than we'll ever want to know about grief and loss. Fortunately, Nneka M. Okona — whose Twitter account is a daily reminder of Black excellence, is here to help you crystallize and process it all with her upcoming book, Self-Care for Grief: 100 Practices for Healing During Times of Loss. It's not scheduled to drop until August 2021, so this will have to be a late summer beach read, but you can pre-order your copy here.
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation By Anna Malaika Tubbs
There's not enough that can be said about the great Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. These three men, perhaps single-handedly, helped shape the modern Black male consciousness. But Anna Malaika Tubbs explores these men in a completely different way, tackling the impact that their respective mothers had on their lives. The Three Mothers is Tubbs' essential and glorious exaltation of Black women whose sons changed the world.
Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes The mind, Body, & Spirit by Mary-Frances Winters
Black Fatigue is the first book to name and describe a phenomenon Black people know well: the multifaceted physical and psychological damage wrought by simply living, day by day, in a racist society. It's not enough to just say that "racism is a mental disorder," and it's certainly not enough to say that Black people continue to experience the fallout from racism to this very day. Black Fatigue names and shames the illness, making this essential reading for both Black and non-Black people.
There and Black Again: The Autobiography of Don Letts By Don Letts (with Mal Peachey)
Donovan "Don" Letts first rose to prominence as a videographer for the British punk band The Clash, and needless to say, he stood out almost immediately as a Black British man with locs amongst a sea of white boys. But this notoriety quickly translated into a career that involved everything from social commentary to filmmaking — even as the co-founder of Big Audio Dynamite with Mick Jones. For a humorous yet culturally relevant take on being Black in punk, There and Black Again has you covered.
SUMMER ON THE BLUFFS BY SUNNY HOSTIN
Our sister site, AfroTech, reported that Sunny Hostin had launched a social justice-focused production company, and one of its first offerings was going to be a dramatization of Summer on the Bluffs. The story focuses on a "life-changing summer" on Oak Bluffs, an exclusive Black beach community in Massachusetts. At the center of the story is three twenty-something Black women who work together to secure their inheritance rights to their godmother's home in the ritzy neighborhood.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
This book was awarded the Coretta Scott King Honor Award late last year, and for good reason. The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a coming-of-age story that deserves the Hollywood treatment sooner rather than later. Telling the story of two young Black women coming of age in a world that seems hell-bent on denying their existence, this happy story tells the story of how two people from quite different backgrounds find love and happiness against all odds.
HOW TO SURVIVE AMERICA by D.L. Hughley
Legendary comedian D.L. Hughley uses his humor to confront racism's unjust impact on the health, wellbeing, and safety of Blacks and minorities. His inspiration for this book? White people and their love of survival guides (seriously — head down that rabbit hole sometime for some good belly-laughs). But do you know who really needs a survival guide? Black and brown Americans. Minority populations wake up every day in a battle for their health and safety. And How To Survive America is a fearless satire that exposes racism's unjust toll on Black bodies and minds. It's set for release on June 15, 2021.
The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for The Country by Amanda Gorman
Did Amanda Gorman inspire you at President Joe Biden's inauguration? So were we. Want to relive that magical moment, where she read The Hill We Climb to a battered and bruised — yet unbroken — country? Click here.
POPS: Learning to be a Son & A Father by Craig Melvin
Whether we like it or not, not every Black man has come from a "complete" family. Far too many have had absentee or abusive fathers. While there are various reasons for that — all of which are rooted in systemic racism and poverty — the after-effects are felt long after childhood. Such is the case for NBC correspondent Craig Melvin, who had a fraught relationship with his father. Lawrence Melvin was a distant, often absent parent due to his drinking and overnight shift. But in this book, Melvin not only comes to terms with his father and celebrates the father figures in his life who were positive role models. He also confronts his family's legacy of addiction and despair and transformation and redemption while exploring the challenges facing all dads — including Craig himself, a father of two young children.