I have been making a conscious effort to read more Black authors to make up for the fact that I grew up reading primarily white authors. Here are some of my top picks for nonfiction and memoir books.
(Note: For readers in the U.S., I’ve included links for Bookshop.org because they are a climate neutral certified company, Certified B corp, and they infuse funding into independently owned bookstores!)
by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa
This book is truly eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and inspiring. It’s no surprise it is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Written by 2 journalists who conducted hundreds of interviews, it shows how Floyd’s life was a perfect example of Blackness in America, from his origins, to his murder, to the movement that continues today. It doesn’t shy away from exploring the background of the police officer who killed him and how individual actions and choices arose from the pervasiveness of systemic racism. It also explores how the burden of fighting for racial justice fell to Floyd’s family after his murder, and how difficult pushing for change continues to be.
I won’t lie – I cried many times. But it is such an important read, and I believe we all need to know this story. Black lives STILL matter, and even when governments lag in passing new laws, we cannot stay silent.
by Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar
If you watch Late Night with Seth Meyers then you’ll be familiar with staff writer Amber Ruffin who is HILARIOUS. She also has her own show. And she wrote this book with her sister which is a comedic take on the crazy racist things her sister experiences all the time. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the authors and then purchased my own hard copy because I needed to see the text and pictures on the pages. I highly recommend both forms!
by Kerry Washington
This memoir is such a wonderful read! I absolutely adore Kerry Washington and her work as an actor and activist – and her memoir proves her prowess as an author. She reveals so much about herself and her family in this book, and there are certain unexpected revelations. But most of all, she is honest and introspective about the journey she’s been on, and what that means for who she is now. She is a breathtaking storyteller, and her writing is intelligent and emotional. What an incredible piece of work, and what a gift that she shares with the world.
by Desmond Cole
This beautifully written book is a journalistic documentation of a year in the life of a Black Canadian activist and writer, Desmond Cole. It sheds light on Canadian issues (spoiler alert: no we aren’t “better” than Americans) around race, especially policing, education, and immigration. Important reading for all Canadians.
by David Chariandy
I loved listening to the audiobook version of this read by the author. It’s a short (about 2 hours) discussion of racial identity and experiences by the author to his mixed race daughter. It’s beautifully written, heart-breaking in parts, but also hopeful. Such a great book!
(Currently on backorder at bookshop.org)
by Trevor Noah
I adore Trevor Noah and I thought he was amazing as host of the Daily Show. His stand-up specials are so clever and hilarious. He has such an incredible way of conveying his experiences, exploring race issues in a profound manner, but also seeing the humour in everything. His book is such an incredible read. I laughed out loud and also cried while reading… I loved listening to him narrate the audiobook AND reading along with a hard copy.
What other recommendations do you have for nonfiction or memoir books by Black authors?
(Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon.com.ca, Inc. Associates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com & amazon.ca. I am also an affiliate with bookshop.org. This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase products via these links, a small percentage of the sale will be given to me at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting juicygreenmom.ca!)