This is NOT a black history month book list; this IS a book list inspired by black history month. Let me explain, I read a huge amount of books that would fall into this category. But in my opinion black history is history and everyone should be reading & learning it all year not just in the month of February!
I saw a promo post yesterday with only 3 choices & I knew that if I wrote such a list, my list would be enormous and would feature female/male writers, fiction & non-fiction, old skool reads & new releases. Something for everybody. I mentioned this in passing to my husband who quickly pointed out ‘isn’t that what your blog is for’ so here goes!
To make this list the best it fully can be, I have scoured my book journals, tbr pile & wish list. I will identify this throughout the list. I can’t include reviews for all the ones I have read but will include my star rating & a brief summary. They are in no particular order.
- IQ by Joe Ide – 5* Genius – New release IQ is a new release, set in modern day LA. I described IQ as a ghetto Sherlock Holmes in my review, this novel is clever, edgy and unique!
- Heartman by M.P Wright (JT Ellington series) – 5* Genius JT is a Bajan cop turned private eye, when he arrives in Bristol UK from Barbados. Set in the 1960’s the novel gives a full & well written description of the era & attitudes at that time. JT is one my favourite characters ever!
- Noughts & crosses by Malorie Blackman – TBR pile I had this YA book recommendation from my little brother. It was his favourite book in his teens. It is due to be adapted to a TV series on the BBC.
- An Untamed State by Roxane gay – 5* This tells the story of Mirieille Duval Jameson, her life in Haiti as daughter of one of the wealthiest families. It details her subsequent captivity & ordeal. But also draws on the backdrop of poverty, inequality, corrupt governments and growing anger. A dark, brutal read but extremely noteworthy.
- Devils Peak by Deon Meyer – Wish list I added this to my wish list due to its location & themes. Set in south Africa this novel tells the story of returning freedom fighter Thobela Mpayipheli
- Natchez Burning trilogy by Greg Iles – 5* Genius This trilogy is majorly intense. It also has reflective chapters jumping between modern times and the 1960’s. Set in the deep south of the USA, it explores the inner workings or the KKK and the effect they have on everyone they touch.
- The calling by Neil Cross (John Luther series) – 5* This is the novel featuring John Luther from the much loved series with Idris Elba. Set in modern times with John Luther the protagonist cop, we all know & love.
- Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye – 5* Set in the Florida keys in the 1930’s this novel covers the black soldiers who returned from WW1 and the trying times they face. When a white woman is found murdered, suspicions quickly fall to the veterans.
- Small Great things by Jodi Picoult – 5* This was a heavily anticipated novel as the author is so well known. It centres around one woman’s struggle to clear her name and the bigotry she faces. The novel has a thought-provoking & clever twist.
- The Wrath of Moses by John sturgeon – 4* Centred around cop Moses in the crime plagued Levee District. This is a heavily layered crime novel of exceptional depth. Aside from the usual dramas Moses is Moses’s biggest enemy.
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – 5* Genius One of my favourites of 2016. I can’t even begin to explain how significant this novel is. Set in the era of slavery, this novel focuses on the story of Cora & her escape via the underground railroad. Incredibly moving!
- Colour Bar by Susan William –TBR pile Added due to my wish list due to its unique & inspiring love story. The true story of a 1947 multi-racial romance between an heir to Africa and a white British woman. Currently screening as a movie in the UK
- The Speech by Andrew Smith – 5* Another of my favourites from 2016. Set in 1968 & covering Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech. This novel merges fact & fiction and is an educational & moving read. Essentially about racial politics in the UK but written in such a well detailed way!
- Gloria by Kerry Young –TBR pile Set in 1938 Jamaica covering political change & social justice from a female perspective. This was an obvious choice for my wish list.
- Lies We All Tell ourselves by Robin Talley – TBR pile Another YA pick, This one set in the backdrop of the civil rights era yet also features an LGBTQ theme. Unique pick.
- You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood – 5* Genius – New Release This is a courtroom legal drama, where the reader becomes a jury member. The beauty of it is, it forces you to think like someone who may not live like you or look like you. Puts you solely in their perspective.
- Easy Rawlins series by Walter Mosley – 5* Genius The series starts out with an old skool edge to it and Easy is by far one of thee most coolest book characters to date! The novels each have unique themes and I am still working my way through the series myself.
- Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines – 5* If you ever want to fully understand the term ‘white privilege’ this is the novel for you! The story of two youngsters who never stood a chance due to circumstances outside of their control.
- Axeman’s Jazz & Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin – 5* Genius The series begins in New Orleans and is a fictionalised portrayal of the real Axeman killer. Heavy on detail and depth, this series is amazing!
- Darktown by Thomas Mullens- 5* Genius Atlanta 1948 this novels covers the first ever black cops in the USA. Boggs & smith are the two main cops; they are written very well. Soon to be a major TV series in the USA.
- The Book of Night Women by Marlon James – 5* Genius Written by Manbooker winner Marlon James, this is probably the most brutal & deep novel I have ever read about slavery. The dialogue is intense, yet it makes the reader slow down and appreciate & saviour every single word.
- All Involved by Ryan Gattis – 5* Set in the 1990’s this novel covers crime/gang culture and the LA riots.
- The Memory Of Love by Aminatta Forna – 5* I met my husband the day of his return from Sierra Leone with the UK military. So this novel instantly intrigued me. Set in the late 1990’s it tells the story of ordinary people living through great loss & hardships. Extraordinarily moving!
- The Sellout by Paul Beatty – 5* Recent winner of the Manbooker Paul Beatty debates race & culture with an unusual approach. I get the distinct opinion Paul doe’s seek validation in the form or reviews & awards. But it definitely deserving! Hilarious & controversial!
- Beloved by Toni Morrison – 4* No list would be complete without the mention of this novel. It is eerie, harrowing & fierce.
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin –TBR pile Published in 1852, this a well-known & famous anti-slavery novel. I must make some time for it soon!
- Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – Wish list I am a difficult woman, so I feel I shall be gripped by this!
NON- Fiction books:
- Roots by Alex Haley – 5* The incredible story of Kunta Kinte. One I am certain I will never forget. Should be studied in schools.
- Africa by Richard Dowden – 5* A comprehensive look at the history of Africa the problems is faces and the huge cultural gifts it has to offer. Made me want to visit Africa asap.
- The autobiographies of Nelson mandela 5*, Martin Luther King 5* & Malcolm X 5* genius. I do not read autobiographies usually but my dad wanted me to read Nelson Mandela’s and I ended up reading these 3 back to back! Inspiring stuff!
- We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Phillip Gourevitch – 5* I wanted to educate myself on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It alarms be how this is kept from mainstream education.
- The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B Tyson – 5* This is an in-depth look into the torture murder of Emmett Till and those who allowed it to happen. It also references modern day crimes against children such as Trayvon Martin.
- Shake Hands With The Devil by Romeo Dallaite – TBR pile This non-fiction title covers the role of the British military & the UN during the Genocide of Rwanda.
- Cut by HiboWardere – TBR pile Centred around FGM and the writers own experiences. The author has kindly agreed to feature in a Q&A when I read & review this book.
- Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali – TBR pile Focused around the roles of women in Islam and the writers experiences as a Muslim.
- They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery – Wish list The main theme is the foundations of the black lives matter movement. Also chapters focused on individual cases of police brutality and subsequent murder of back citizens in the USA.
I hope there is something that may interest you on my list. Also please feel free to contact/message/comment me with further recommendations!