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A space dedicated to elevating the conversation
around black books!

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International Book Award & Best Book Award Finalist, Amazon Bestseller #1 in African American Poetry, #2 in Postpartum Categories.

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  • Writer's pictureRae Scott

1o Revolutionary Reads for Black Women by Black Women

It is so difficult to scale all the great books in the world down to a top ten list. I believe black women writing books that redefine American history is a revolutionary act because we come from a community that has historically suffered high illiteracy rates, and has been widely excluded from the national narrative. This compiled list of books highlights the history, experiences, strength, and resilience of black women. I selected each of these books (all written by black women) because their radical and groundbreaking impact makes them a must-read for the entire diaspora. With each book, you will gain a new takeaway each time you read them. Check out my list below:

The Warmth of Other Suns x Isabel Wilkerson

History is often written to make us feel like it happens so far in the past, that we don't recognize how much of it were the lived experiences of our parents and grandparents. This epic story of The Great Migration is a must-read as it helps to develop a deeper understanding of how the massive exodus of African Americans from the Jim Crow South helped to shape our modern nation.

Buy Warmth of Other Suns on Bookshop

Women, Race & Class x Angela Davis

In this book, Davis explains the history of the feminist movement in America and highlights the ways it has fallen short in supporting women from marginalized communities. Black women should read this book because it breaks down intersectionality in a way that is both revolutionary and comprehensive from one of our most important scholars and civil rights activists.

Buy Women, Race & Class on Bookshop

Honorable Mention: "Ain't I A Woman by bell hooks.

Self-Care for Black Women: 150 Ways to Radically Accept & Prioritize Your Mind, Body, & Soul

This book offers 150 exercises specifically designed to improve mental health and encourage self-care. It is essential for learning to prioritize yourself and understand your boundaries by leading the reader to look inward and do the work on themselves. Simply a must-read.

Buy Self-Care for Black Women on Bookshop

The 1619 Project x Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project is the new origin story of America. It adds the contributions of African Americans to the national narrative by rightfully centering American history around the institution of slavery and the aftermath. Not only is this book groundbreaking in the retelling of American history, but it has also accosted extreme efforts made by conservatives to be banned from curriculums across the country.

Buy The 1619 Project on Bookshop

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself x Nedra Glover Tawwab

In this book, a licensed counselor and relationship expert pen the importance of healthy boundaries to encourage readers to seek the feeling of truly being themselves. This book is a must-read for black women because it teaches us how to identify and express our needs using some of the best practices in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Buy Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself on Bookshop

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings x Maya Angelou

This poetic and powerful story of Marguerite Annie Johnson is one of the most beloved American classics. Maya Angelou expanded the genre of autobiographies by adding fictional elements to the telling of her own life experiences in a way that makes it a quintessential classic of American literature and a must-read for black women.

Buy I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings on Bookshop

Assata x Assata Shakur

Assata Shakur was the first woman added to the FBI's most wanted list during the Black Panther/Cointelpro Era. She has been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. This book is a must-read because it is Assata's experience in her own words about what she describes as government persecution. The book Assata (name meaning "she who struggles") is the story of a black woman, who struggled, resisted, escaped, and survived and that is a story worth reading.

Buy Assata on Bookshop

Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo x Zora Neale Hurston

Barracoon tells the story of Cudjo Lewis, the last survivor of the Middle Passage, based on interviews by Hurston from 1927. Although written in the 1930s it failed to get published (until 2018 - almost 60 years after Hurston's death) because she refused to compromise the integrity of her work by changing the vernacular of the language in which it was written as requested by publishers. This book is significant to the entire diaspora because it teaches us the importance of preserving our history, defending its accuracy, and advocating for its authenticity.

Buy Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo on Bookshop

Medical Bondage x Deirdre Cooper Owens

To say everything relates back to slavery is an understatement. Medical Bondage gives enslaved women their rightful place in history as the mothers of maternal medicine by exposing the origins of American gynecology. This book should be required reading for anyone working in the medical field because it puts things into perspective when we wonder why the maternal healthcare system neglects the needs and concerns of women of color.

Honorable Mention: Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

Buy Medical Bondage on Bookshop

The Bluest Eye x Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is the epitome of classic African American literature so choosing which book from her catalog belongs on the list this list is strictly a personal preference. The Bluest Eye just happened to be my first book by Morrison and is such a beautiful introduction to Morrison's bold storytelling and rich language. Read it and thank me later.

Buy The Bluest Eye on Bookshop

** All bookshop links support Red Emma's Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Baltimore, Maryland.

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