What’s on your reading list this month? We’ve gathered some newly released and upcoming January titles by Black authors for you to check out. Take a look. We have a little bit of everything!
When You Look Like Us, Pamela N. Harris (Jan. 5) (Young Adult)
The descriptions of Black bodies seen through the lens of society (or people who don‘t look like us) makes it difficult to exist in America. A thrilling novel from Pamela N. Harris, shines a light on Black communities hindered by institutionalized racism and the missing Black girls who are often overlooked.
Angel of Greenwood, Randi Pink (Jan. 12) (Young Adult)
In “Angel of Greenwood,” a historical fiction novel that takes place in 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, author Randi Pink gives us adventure, history, murder and violent America. Isaiah Wilson is the town’s 17-year-old mischief–maker. Like most “troublemakers,” unfortunately, he’s presumed unknowledgeable in many ways. Secretly, Isaiah is a passionate reader, poet and a follower of W.E.B Dubois. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Angel Hill worries about her family’s health and financial crisis. She, juxtaposed to Isaiah, is a follower of Booker T. Washington.
Unknown to each other’s existence, the two Black teens cross paths during an afternoon work-study and discover they have more in common than they think. On May 31, 192, a white mob destroyed thousands of homes, and the livelihood of Black people in the Greenwood community. Finally, the teens and their peers realize who the real enemy is.
Julian Bond’s Time to Teach: A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond (Jan. 12)
Julian Bond was a social activist, politician and professor. Notes from a popular class he taught at the University of Virginia on the Civil Rights Movement are being released in book form, “Julian Bond’s Time to Teach.”
Bond, who co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while at Morehouse College, shares first-hand accounts and teachings on key events, including the Montgomery bus boycott, the Little Rock Nine, Freedom Rides, sit-ins, Mississippi voter registration, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing, the March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act, Freedom Summer and Selma.
In the book, Bond explains the youth activism and strategy required to build a successful movement. Original photos from Danny Lyon are included.
The Beautiful Struggle (Adapted for Young Adults), Ta-Nehisi Coates (Jan. 12)
Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “Between the World and Me” (2015), “We were Eight Years in Power” (2017) and “The Water Dancer” (2019), re-released his debut memoir “The Beautiful Struggle” (2019) with adaptations for young adults. The original bestselling memoir tells the story of Coates’ upbringing in a collapsing Baltimore. He and his siblings were raised by a father who was a Vietnam veteran and former member of the Black Panther Party. His father, Paul, who viewed Ta-Nehisi as sensitive and lacking focus, was determined to raise proud Black men prepared to deal with a racist society. Coates shares his family challenges and struggles at school and with relationships with girls.
Ambitious Girl, Meena Harris (Jan. 19) (Picture Book)
This empowering new picture book tells the story of an “Ambitious Girl” who sees a woman on television labeled as “too assertive” and “too ambitious.” This sends her on a journey to discover challenges faced by girls and women in the past, present and future and the ways they can reframe, redefine and reclaim words meant to knock them down.
“Ambitious Girl” is written by Meena Harris, the author of “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea,” a bestselling picture book about Meena’s aunt, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and her mother, Maya Harris.
Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale, Tim Fielder (Jan. 19)
Believe it or not, comic books are still in. In “Infinitum,” graphic novelist Tim Fielder takes us on an Afrofuturistic journey from pre-colonial Africa to the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and beyond.
The full-color graphic novel tells the story of King AjA Ọba, who reigned the African continent alongside Queen Lewa. King Ọba is cursed with immortality after he kidnapped his son born from his concubine. Queen Lewa and the prince-son eventually die, leaving King Ọba to live on for millennia. Alone, he fights enemy nations and witnesses seminal events, including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and communication with alien species.
Octavia E. Butler: Kindred, Fledgling, Collected Stories (Library of America #338), Octavia Butler and Gerry Canavan (Jan. 19)
The work of science-fiction novelist Octavia Butler lives on. This month, the Library of America is releasing its first volume of her work. The collection opens with “Kindred,” an Afrofuturistic tale of a Black woman living in 1970s California who suddenly travels time and lands on a plantation in 1800s Maryland. Also included, “Fledgling,” the story of an amnesiac girl who ventures to discover more about her life when she realizes she’s actually a genetically modified, 53-year-old woman-vampire.
The volume concludes with eight short stories and five essays, including two that have never been collected. In addition, readers can look forward to a chronology of Bulter’s life and career, and explanatory notes by scholar Getty Canavan, and an introduction by writer, editor and friend of Butler’s, Nisi Shawl.
Just as I Am, Cicely Tyson (Jan. 26)
A legend has spoken. The 96-year-old actress and former fashion model, Cicely Tyson is releasing her autobiography. Over her six-decade career, the award-winning actress has graced the covers of Jet and Ebony magazines, been nominated and won several awards and starred in numerous groundbreaking films, including “Sounder” (1972), “Roots” (1973), the “Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (1974), and many more. “Just As I Am” shares the life story of Tyson, on and off screen.
Wings of Ebony, J. Elle (Jan. 26) (Young Adult)
Are you ready for action-packed Afrofuturistic fantasy and adventure? This young adult novel has it. “Wings of Ebony” tells the story of Rue, a Black teenager from Houston who’s forced to make tough decisions, after her mother is fatally shot on their doorstep. She’s taken by her father (whom she never knew) to a land called Ghizon.
On the hidden island of magic wielders, Rue is the only half-god, half-human amid leaders who prey on humans. She breaks the rules, returning home to her sister, only to find similar chaos. The Black children (including her sister) are being forced into crime and violence. Will she unleash the power that lives in her blood to stop the forces? She must decide before her neighborhood burns to the ground.
Baby Young, Gifted, and Black: With a Mirror!, Jamia Wilson, Illustrations by Andrea Pippins (Jan. 26) (Picture Book)
What gets more precious than a lyrical board-book that empowers your child to love themselves? This children’s picture book, based on Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” is full of Black leaders, pioneers, cultural trailblazers and athletes. The colorful 20-page illustration comes with a mirror, so your child can recognize their young, gifted Blackness as they read along.
Are you as hype as we are to cozy up with one of these books? Be sure to check back with us next month for our February release list!
This book list was compiled and written by Jelisa Harvey and A. Imani Spencer.