When I was growing up, I loved reading about distant fantastical worlds just as much as I loved reading about high school drama. Reading quickly became my number one pastime, but no matter how many books I plowed through, it was difficult for me to find books where the characters looked like me. Luckily, as I got older, more and more Black authors were publishing books with beautiful Black main characters. And these emerging stories are not just about what it’s like to be Black– they’re about love and drama in our diverse world as well as adventure and magic in new fantastical worlds. From children’s books to romance and fantasy, Black authors are telling vibrant and exciting stories!
So, since it’s Black History Month, we’re celebrating all of the wonderful books that spread Black joy. Check out the list below to see a few of our favorites! Are there books you love that aren’t on the list? Celebrate Black excellence with us by tagging us @thirdplacebooks on social media and sharing which Black authors you’re supporting!
For All Time by Shanna Miles
WOW! This blew my mind. This story is so unexpected, I literally didn't know what was going to happen until it did. If you crave conceptual time travel narratives along the lines of This is How You Lose the Time War, please, please, read For All Time. Tamar and Fayard suddenly begin having strange dreams and visions, set in different centuries and places. It's as if they spent other lives meeting and falling in love, as if their souls seek each other in every era and continent. But it couldn't possibly be real because Tamar is really sick and Fayard should be figuring out college. There's so much to this story and I wish I could tell you more, but then I'd spoil it for you. - Danielle
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
This is a hate-to-love romantic comedy with more depth than the adorable cover suggests. Strong, smart-mouthed Chloe challenges herself to live more fully after a near-death experience breaks the monotony of managing severe fibromyalgia. She has made a list, of course, but struggles to check off more than the first item: move out of parent's house. Enter Red, her new (rather grouchy) apartment caretaker. They strike a deal to help Chloe with items on her list in exchange for an artist website. Adventures commence: motorbike rides, a drunken night out, camping in the woods. Not on the list? Falling in love. A hilarious and charming romance with wickedly sexy scenes and believable emotional stakes grounded in familiar anxieties and traumas. - Danielle
Electric Arches by Eve L Ewing
Eve L Ewing’s poetry is truly a gift. Real is blended with the surreal as we journey through an intensely personal afro-futuristic world. This book is a shared act of healing and gives readers a glimpse into the power of Black imagination. - Madison
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
There's a reason why he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2020! These poems are lovely and devastating. Beautiful and heartbreaking, of course, with titles like "Bullet Points" as a black man in America and lines like "I love a man I know I could die" as an openly gay, HIV-positive man. Read this if you want something solid and good. - Emily
Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark
Thank you, P. Djeli Clark, for writing this Victorian Egyptian steampunk novel just for me! "A Master of Djinn" melds the mysterious adventures of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody archeological mysteries with the snarky steampunk vibe of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. Along with a dash of the inclusive romance that I've been devouring lately and a cast of multicultural characters, the result is the most entertaining book I've read this year from the most original voice I could hope to find. - Deborah
Lagoon by Nnedi Akorafor
The last sentence of this book gave me shivers. In addition, it contains a short chapter written from the perspective of a small bat that is so achingly, hauntingly beautiful it made my heart hurt. And now I want to go to Nigeria, but I think I'll stay away from the water. - Anje
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
No wonder our black salesman that breaks the fourth wall has been widely likened to Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street what with Askaripour's regimen of two hours of movie trailers and music videos before writing. A very well-balanced satire that makes you laugh and cringe at our very own world he holds a mirror to. A very hard one to put down! - Emily
Akata Witch by Nnedi Akorafor
Join 12 year old Sunny Nwazue as she uncovers her hidden magical abilities, gets inducted into a secret society where knowledge truly is power, and boldly faces off against all of the dark creatures the spirit world throws at her. Oh, and eats lots of fufu and egusi soup. Honestly, what's a good fantasy series without incredible feasts? - Anje
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
A dystopian novel that takes place in a fiction city where monsters have been destroyed. The story is told through Jam, a sixteen-year-old trans girl who is selectively mute. A painting her mother is working on comes to life in the form of a demon/angel named Pet. Pet is on the hunt for a monster that lives at her best friend Redepmtion's house. Jam is in way over her head but she's gotta save her best friend. Who or what is this monster living among them? Political undertones and heavy topics make this book so relevent. This is a novel of urgency!!! - Rosa
Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston
Amari’s adventure begins when she receives a package from her missing brother. Before he went missing, he nominated her for an elite summer camp with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. She has a lot of catching up to do if she wants to fit in with her supernatural peers and solve her brother’s disappearance! -Sarah B.