21 Books by Black Women You Need to Read

written by HAILEY BOUCHE

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From contemporary literature to fantasy to mystery and every genre that lands in between, there are Black female authors that impress us daily, sending us into week-long book hangovers after gracing us with their unique talents, creativity, and wisdom. Reading incredible literature from these women is a great way to celebrate and recognize Black people, Black lives, and Black culture, while simultaneously losing yourself in an amazing story—fiction or nonfiction.

Goodreads is our go-to source for finding new book recommendations, exploring new genres, and discovering outstanding authors so we leaned on the millions of readers who use Goodreads to figure out what books written by Black women we should be adding to our TBR lists. Ahead, 21 books written by Black women across all genres that we are adding to our personal libraries ASAP.

Charmaine Wilkerson
Black Cake

Chosen as a nominee for Goodread's Best Historical Fiction and Best Debut Novel award in 2022, Charmaine Wilkerson's Black Cake is a book you won't be able to put down. It follows the lives of Eleanor Bennett’s two sons after she dies. She left behind a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. The heartbreaking story and mystery that unfolds changes what the boys think they knew about their family and themselves.

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Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, working at a national newspaper and straddling two cultures. Between comparing herself to her white middle class peers at work and a messy breakup with her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie finds herself careening from one big life question to another. Seeking comfort in hazardous places, Queenie has to face many of the questions that the rest of the world is trying to answer for her. Candice Carty-Williams' debut novel is disarmingly honest, unapologetically Black, and undeniably witty.

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Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Take My Hand

Inspired by true events, this historical fiction novel follows a Black nurse in post-segregation Alabama who ends up taking care of two young Black girls. As she gets a handle on her new role helping the family, the unthinkable happens and nothing is ever the same. Decades later, she is ready to retire, but the story of her past refuses to give her peace.

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Leila Mottley

Chosen as a nominee for Goodread's Best Fiction and Best Debut Novel award in 2022, Nightcrawling follows the complicated story of Kiara, her brother, Marcus, and the little boy next door who was abandoned by his mom. Struggling to keep their dreams alive and their apartment lights on, Kiara gets offered a job that could solve all of their woes. The only problem? She ends up as a key witness in a massive scandal because of it.

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Tara M. Stringfellow

Memphis traces three generations of a Southern Black family and one daughter's realization that she could possibly change her family's legacy. Told through various point of views across the span of 70 years, this unforgettable story explores the complexity of inheritance, sacrifice, justice, and love.

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Austin Channing Brown
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Austin Channing Brown first encountered racialized America at age seven, when her parents informed her that they named her Austin so that future employers would believe that she was a white man on job applications. In I'm Still Here, Austin writes about her journey to self-worth after growing up in primarily white schools and churches. Brown unpacks the complexities of America's social fabric, especially in a time when nearly every major institution and organization claims to value diversity in its mission statement.

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N.K. Jemisin
The City We Became

The City We Became is one of three books in a series by N.K. Jemisin, and it was an instant New York Times Best Seller. The story follows five New Yorkers who must come together in order to defend their city, and in doing so, they unexpectedly become the living embodiments of each of the city’s five boroughs. Unfortunately, the first thing they learn is that the city is under attack. What follows are paranormal battles, city politics, and more that will destroy the city unless they can stop evil once and for all.

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Talia Hibbert
Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown is the second book in The Brown Sisters Series by Talia Hibbert, which can be read as stand-alones or in any order. With over 80k ratings on Goodreads, it's clear that Talia Hibbert does rom-com right. In this fake-dating-to-lovers story, Danika Brown agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral.

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Jasmine Guillory
Party of Two

When Olivia Monroe moves to LA, the last thing on her mind is dating. That is until she meets Max Powell and spends the entire night flirting back and forth with him at a hotel bar. When she realizes that he is a hotshot junior senator, she tries to stay away but simply can't help herself. Because of his high-profile job, they date in secret, but when it finally goes public, Olivia must decide if the public scrutiny is worth staying in their relationship or not.

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Wanda M. Morris
All Her Little Secrets

Ellice Littlejohn has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job, great friends, and a relationship with a rich, charming executive, who just happens to be her white boss. When she walks into his office one morning to find him dead, she leaves as if nothing ever happened because she'll be damned if she's thrust into the spotlight—again.

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Mikki Kendall
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Woman That a Movement Forgot

In Hood Feminism, Mikki Kendall dives into feminism's glaring blind spot, in which mainstream feminists fail to recognize food insecurity, access to quality education, and a living wage as feminist issues. Kendall asks how we can stand in solidarity as feminists when it is more likely than not that many women are oppressing others. This collection of searing essays considers the myopia of many white feminists when it comes to how things like race, class, and ability intersect with gender.

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Zakiya Dalila Harris
 The Other Black Girl

26-year-old Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books, so she is excited when Harlem-born and bred Hazel joins her. Not long after, uncomfortable events elevate Hazel to Office Darling and Nella is left in the dust. When Nella starts to spiral, she starts tor realize that there is more at stake than just her career at Wagner Books, but is she ready to face it?

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Kellye Garrett
Like a Sister

In this mystery novel, no one seems to care when Desiree, a Black reality TV star, is found dead—except her estranged half-sister Lena, whose refusal to believe that the cause of death was an overdose leads her on a search for the truth. Even though she hasn't talked to Desiree for two years, Lena knows the details are very unlike Desiree. When no one seems to be listening to her, Lena becomes determined to get to the bottom of it.

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Erin E. Adams

As a frantic search begins for Caroline, a young Black girl who goes missing in the woods, main character Liz Rocher is the only one that notices a pattern in her predominantly white rust belt town. This isn't the only time that a young girl has gone missing in the woods, on a summer night, during a party. As Liz starts to unravel the town's history, she uncovers a horrifying secret.

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Alyssa Cole
When No One Is Watching

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole was an instant New York Times and USA Today Bestseller. This thriller follows Sydney Green's life in Brooklyn when she and her neighbor Theo realize that the neighbors they've known all their life are disappearing. Committed to figuring it out, Sydney and Theo have to decide if they are able to trust each other and get to the bottom of what's happening before one of them is next.

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Megan Giddings
The Women Could Fly

Set in a world in which witches are real and single women are closely monitored, this novel is about the bond between a young woman and her mysterious mother. Josephine Thomas has heard every conceivable theory about her mother's disappearance, but it's been 14 years since then, and Jo is ready to let it go. When she's offered the opportunity to honor one last request from her mother's will, Jo leaves her regular life to feel connected to her one last time.

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Rachel Howzell Hall
We Lie Here

Rachel Howzell Hall, New York Times bestselling author of And Now She's Gone and These Toxic Things, is back with another standout thriller book. This story follows Yara Gibson when she heads back to her hometown to celebrate her parent's anniversary. When she receives a disturbing text from Felicia Campbell (who claims to be a childhood friend of Yara's mother) mentioning that she has information that will change Yara's life, Yara ignores it. The next day, Felicia is dead, but she leaves keys to a cabin and mysterious files for Yara to find.

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Jasmine Guillory
By the Book

This is the second book in Jasmine Guillory's Meant to Be Series (don't worry, you don't have to read them in order), and readers are loving it just as much as the first one. When 25-year-old Isabelle finally sees an opportunity to get the promotion she deserves at her publishing house, she sets out to convince a high-profile author to finally deliver his manuscript. When she learns that Beau Towers is just as lost as she is these days, they encourage each other and learn that they have a lot more in common than they anticipated. But will it all work out before their deadline?

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Rachel E. Cargle
A Renaissance of Our Own

A meditation on imagination, this memoir from Rachel E. Cargle focuses on the breaking points in our lives when we realize the way things have been set up for us simply do not work anymore. From relationships to belief systems to education to rest, the act of reimagining has been a thread throughout Cargle's life. The defining moments she shares serve as a blueprint for how we must all use our imagination to craft a better world, for ourselves and for others. With A Renaissance of Our Own, Cargle provides the tools and prompts that she used as she transformed from a small-town Christian wife to a queer feminist voice of a generation.

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Viola Davis
Finding Me

Viola Davis' highly anticipated memoir has been lauded for its gorgeous storytelling and unpolished reflections. The book follows Viola from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City. Along each step of her journey, Davis exposes how we are all forced to reinvent our own stories in a competitive and judgmental world.

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Tiffany Haddish
The Last Black Unicorn

From the eternally hilarious Tiffany Haddish comes a down-to-earth memoir about how she inspires others through the power of laughter. Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in South Central Los Angeles, Haddish learned to survive by making her peers laugh. As she tells the story of her transformation from in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman to professional comedian, Haddish recounts how she turned humor into a healing career.

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