“It is the mind that makes the body.”
February 1, 2018 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Black History Month reading list: [The Guardian] “At the start of the month dedicated to African American history, here’s our rundown of what to read.”

• 3 Harlem Renaissance Novels Deliver An Ingenious Take On Race [NPR].
• 24 Books to Celebrate Black History Month [Random House].
• 8 books to celebrate Black History Month [Penguin]
• 15 Brilliant Black History Books To Read For Black History Month [Bustle]
• 21 YA Books For Black History Month [Epic Reads]
• 7 Essential Reads for Black History Month [Elle]
• The best books to read this Black History Month [GQ]
• The 10 Best Reads For Black History Month [Refinery29]
• Books that Bring the Black Experience to Life [PBS Parents]
• Black history in Canada: A reading list [CBC]
• Celebrate Black History Month with These Great Books [Barnes & Noble]
• A Black History Month Reading List by Booker T. Washington's Great Granddaughter [Newsweek]
• Books for Black History Month [Abe Books]
• A Guide to Fantasy and Science Fiction Made for Black People, by Black People [The Root]
• 9 Black Fantasy and Sci-Fi Novels That Will Take You Out of This World [Okay Africa]
• 19 Science-Fiction And Fantasy Novels By Women Of Color You Must Read [Buzzfeed]
• A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction [Fantastic]
• Top Ten Books To Read For Black Speculative Fiction Newbies [Black SciFi]
• 14 More Afrofuturists You Should Be Reading [Best Science Fiction]
• 10 Sci-Fi Stories Created by Women of Color [The Mary Sue]
• 5 Science Fiction and Fantasy Women of Colour Authors to Read After Octavia Butler [Book Riot]
posted by Fizz (14 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
**There's going to be some overlap of course, but I wanted to provide as much variety as I could from all kinds of sources. Happy reading.**
posted by Fizz at 10:55 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read a lot of science fiction, and I can only name two black authors: Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany. Now, I know that's two more than a lot of people could come up with (even sf readers), but it's nice to see this list has grown. It's nice to have additional options.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fizz I can’t read all of these in a month are you crazy ?
posted by wheelieman at 11:28 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fizz I can’t read all of these in a month are you crazy ?
The great thing about Black History is that its larger than a single month and can/should be celebrated throughout the year. There's so much to enjoy.
posted by Fizz at 11:38 AM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

This just reminded me of a course I took during undergrad on black masculinity in America. Hmm, I'm going to hunt down that list and share it here, we read some really great books. Books I probably wouldn't have been exposed to or hear of had I not taken that particular course. Will report back shortly.
posted by Fizz at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I am a big reader and have a fairly diverse library but its been on my mind a lot in recent years to up my share of women/POC/not-American etc., writers (and suffer pangs when I crave the next Neal Stephenson or Thomas Pychon...)

TIL that Samuel Delany is black!! mind blown!

I'm going to try to read a bunch of this! why not? its like nanowrimo but with reading.

also Octavia Butler is AWESOME!! go check her out!
posted by supermedusa at 12:10 PM on February 1, 2018

Now that I think about it even further, it seems I'm conflating TWO of my undergrad classes. I had one on early American black literature and another on masculinity in literature. Anyways, here are a few that we read. I enjoyed them all quite a bit.

• If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes
• Black Boy by Richard Wright
• The Color Purple by Alice Walker
• Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
• The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
posted by Fizz at 12:26 PM on February 1, 2018

Wow! So many great lists. Thanks for this post! I'm particularly excited by the sci fi and fantasy. The author Calvin Baker wrote a great thing recently about how so much of what certain audiences expect to read by and about black people centers around being marginalized, which can ironically bring white people back into focus. Personally, I'm glad to see stuff that isn't strictly along those lines.

Also, thanks to my research, I have about a million book recommendations related to black history in the late 19th century, if anyone is interested. I mean, but these are great lists and probably better anyway. The only book I really have to mention now is Self-taught: African American education in slavery and freedom, by Heather Andrea Williams. It is great, because she lays out so well how enslaved Americans built underground education networks. She lays out how it was the enslaved who fought hard for their educations, and it was the formerly enslaved who led the push in various settings for literacy and empowerment; the agency for black education rests with these people, not, as normally seen in the white imagination, in the kind hearts of generous white northerners who took it upon themselves to impart wisdom and literacy.

Oh and definitely also The Claims of Kinfolk, by Dylan Penningroth. It's all about how enslaved Americans used courts of law to make legal claims over property and other issues, while they themselves were considered property. It is an amaaaazing book, and I think that was what got him his MacArthur fellowship.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:06 PM on February 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

TIL that Samuel Delany is black!! mind blown!

It's funny you mention this. I can specifically recall the moment I learned in my teenage years that Alexandre Dumas was a person of colour. The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favourite novels of all time.

It still breaks my brain because I find myself wondering, is it better that this was never mentioned explicitly in school, like they just normalized him as a part of the Canon of Literature we read, or is this an oversight and a way of not recognizing his blackness and his contributions to literature? Hmm..
posted by Fizz at 1:15 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Or I might have just had a teacher that was not as thorough as she should have been when teaching that novel.
posted by Fizz at 1:28 PM on February 1, 2018

Today I also learned that Samuel Delaney is black. I only learned that Alexandre Dumas was black due to a Black History Month poster we had in Junior High School. It was never explicitly taught, but at the same time I don't think his works were taught in either English or French class and it wouldn't have come up in any other class.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:08 PM on February 1, 2018

I never knew Dumas was a person of color!
posted by bardophile at 11:36 PM on February 1, 2018

Dumas? I likewise had no idea. ... I see his father's mother was a slave, so his father was born in Haiti, legally a slave there, until his own father brought him to France. "Dumas and Louverture (appointed a general-in-chief in 1797) were the two highest-ranking officers of sub-Saharan African descent in the Western world until 1975"

The "5 Science Fiction and Fantasy Women of Colour Authors" is a good list and I can recommend four of them. Trying to make an "If you like Butler, try..." pick, but they're all rather different.
posted by away for regrooving at 3:12 AM on February 2, 2018

For anyone interested in Dumas, the biography of his father, General Alex Dumas, is worth reading: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.
posted by Lexica at 10:13 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

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