I'm an English major, which everyone calls "the study of dead white guys". To an extent that's true, but luckily things are changing. There are so many talented black female writers with interesting stories to share; all they need is an audience and that's you!
1. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
We all know and love Shonda Rhimes for the many addictive TV series she's given us over the years. But whether you're a Grey's girl, a Scandal fanatic, or How to Get Away with Murder devotee, you will all agree that "Year of Yes" is one of the best books by black writers of the decade. If you're an introvert whose favorite word is "no", you need to read this book! Learning to say yes and explore new things allows you to enjoy your life more, as you'll see in Rhime's poignant memoir.
2. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
I love this book because it's the most relatable feminist book I've read. Gay deals with intersectional feminism boldly and entertainingly from her unique perspective. You and your world view can't help but grow after reading this book! Any woman who calls herself a 21st century feminist should certainly add this to her reading list.
3. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
This was Michelle Obama's favorite book of 2015... how can you not read it? If you need more convincing, just let me tell you what it's about. The Light of the World is memoir that Alexander wrote after mourning the loss of her husband. Throughout the book, she narrates how to love and lose gracefully, and how to pour your love for one person into others after they've passed. The Light of the World is a book everyone can relate to and learn from in some way.
4. Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Memoirs and essays aren't all black women are talented at writing; Jam on the Vine is a historical fiction novel that you will love! The story takes place in the early-twenthieth century and chronicles the not-so-easy life of an African-American journalist traveling from the Deep South to the Mid-West.
5. Ordinary Light Tracy K. Smith
Pulitzer-prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith takes a chance with prose in her memoir "Ordinary Light" and the result is phenomenal! Through this book, Smith deals with the loss of her mother as well as her own identity as a black woman in America.
6. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
On the news today, you see a lot of black male corpses—and those are just some of the ones unjustly shot by police officers. Jesmyn Ward deals with the epidemic black men seem to face every day in her book "Men We Reaped". Ward lost five loved ones, all black men, to suicide, accident, murder, and drug abuse. After reflecting on those tragic losses, Ward wrote "Men We Reaped" to expose how systemic racism and the poverty it causes can cost lives.
7. 'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma
If you want to travel across space and time, all you need to do is read "'Til The Well Runs Dry". Francis-Sharma takes you to mid-twentieth century Trinidad in her fiction novel about love in all of its forms. The story is multi-cultural, multi-generational, and a beautiful read overall!
8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
It may be a cliche to include a Toni Morrison book and you might not think this one is particularly uplifting but ... Toni Morrison is one of the most important black writers and hidden in this story of racism, incest, and skin tone complexities there are many quotable references and remarks that will speak volumes to you.
9. Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie
Not only does this book discuss a critical point in Nigeria's history, the Biafran War, but it also tells a captivating story about five fictional, but unforgettable characters. Chimanda Adichie is the genius behind "We Should All Be Feminists," a speech featured in Beyonce's "Flawless." If you love the way Adichie writes and thinks, you should certainly read "Half a Yellow Sun."
10. Daughter: a Novel by Asha Bandele
Police brutality is a sensitive topic for black America. Many mothers worry ceaselessly about their sons' safety, but Asha Bandele's novel slightly changes the narrative. In "Daughter" a white police officer shoots nineteen-year-old Aya Rivers. While she lies in the hospital, her mother sits by her side, recalling the past and painting a portrait of black American female identity.
Black writers have always produced amazing works, but in the past few years some of the most relatable and inspiring memoirs and novels have been written by black authors. Which of these will find itself of your bookshelf next?