An Anti-Racist Reading List: 20 Highly Rated Nonfiction Books by Black Authors

Posted by Sharon on June 2, 2020
There are many ways to take action against racism. Reading in order to learn more about oppression and how to oppose it is just one of those ways. For those who seek resources to understand more about the Black experience in America, books like Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow have been illuminating calls to action.

In that vein, we've gathered 20 recent non-fiction books, memoirs, and histories on the topic of race, written by Black American authors. While by no means a comprehensive list, these books are a good place to start. All published in the past two years, they share the distinction of being widely read and highly rated by Goodreads members—every title has an average 4-star rating or above.

Let us know in the comments what other essential books on anti-racism you would recommend to your fellow readers.
 
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating


Which of these books have you read and which will you plan to read? Let us know in the comments.
 

Comments Showing 1-50 of 242 (242 new)


message 1: by Night (last edited Jun 03, 2020 12:26AM) (new)

Night Even though she is British and not American, I really liked Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. It is very instructive, and in my opinion, it is necessary reading for all white people who want to learn about racism and the psychological, physical and social cost of it to people of color.


message 2: by Kyndle (new)

Kyndle McMahan I want to read all of them lol but They Were Her Property..sounds like it could fuck me up


message 3: by Miki (new)

Miki May I be so bold as to also recommend The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House by Audre Lord? It's a fantastic collection of essays.


message 4: by Miryamu (new)

Miryamu Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting...


message 5: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

Yes , please..


message 6: by Nisreen (new)

Nisreen Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I'd recommend How to Be an Antiracist or Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. The later is not on the list, but it remains one of the best books on racism I've read to date.


message 7: by Miryamu (new)

Miryamu Nisreen wrote: "Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I'd recommend How to Be an Antira..."


Thank you, Nisreen!!


message 8: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Fasching-Gray Kyndle wrote: "I want to read all of them lol but They Were Her Property..sounds like it could fuck me up" I know the feeling: fear of books. Start with that one, then.


message 9: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

You might try the Libby app, link your library card(s), and start with whatever is available soonest. I especially like the Suspend Hold feature to get yourself to the front of the line without having it check out to you before you're ready - like when you're in the middle of other books.


message 10: by Nisreen (new)

Nisreen I'd also recommend this recommendation video (I know, getting too meta)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if7y_...


message 11: by Erica (new)

Erica D`souza Thanks for this list. I just Googled similar lists today.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)


message 13: by Jason (new)

Jason Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."
I would recommend When they Call you a terrorist by Angela Davis as im the same as you on a budget thats the only one i have read so far.
Enjoy.


message 14: by awesomatik.de (new)

awesomatik.de Very popular already but I would also recommend Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Really powerful read.


message 15: by Roger (new)

Roger Bailey Allow me to recommend Malcolm X Speaks: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...


message 16: by Emily (last edited Jun 03, 2020 06:34AM) (new)

Emily Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I would check out your local library catalog! Even if they are not open yet, you can see which books they have, and you can also let them know if there's some you would like them to add to the collection.


message 17: by Britt (new)

Britt  Whitfield Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

Check your local library! I know a bunch of libraries are closed to the public but there is a chance they are doing curbside or have an ebook lending library.


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim Ta-Nehisi Coates' essay on reparations:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...


message 19: by Josiah (new)

Josiah I have yet to read Kendi's most recent book, but can highly recommend "Stamped From the Beginning". It reads like a people's history and highlights key African American thinkers from Frederick Douglass to Angela Davis, and how they interacted with the forces of racism and built a framework for anti-racism. It doesn't go deep on any one person or movement, but does give a worthwhile overview of how attitudes towards race and racism have evolved over 400+ years of American life.


message 20: by ♠ Tabi⁷ ♠ (new)

♠ Tabi⁷ ♠ Britt wrote: "Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

Check your local library! I know ..."


Just popping on here (as a librarian) to add that, yes!! Check with your local libraries to see what they're offering. A lot are doing curbside (including mine) and even with the current pandemic, we still try our best to help our patrons & keep them in reading material, whether that's curbside or digital resources.

And a lot of places are opening up or loosening digital limitations, so there's that, too.

Stay safe everyone!


message 21: by Stacy (new)

Stacy Miki wrote: "May I be so bold as to also recommend The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House by Audre Lord? It's a fantastic collection of essays."

Thanks for the suggestion. Adding this to my TBR list.


message 22: by Jim (new)

Jim Black people were forcibly brought to the colonies in the 17th century (I won't quibble about exact dates, that is the White Supremacist's escape clause, debating the "when"...). Black people were legally slaves in the colonies and then the USofA until 1863. Black people were "counted" as 3/5 of a person at one point in US history. Black people were lynched by White Americans as entertainment. Police fire-hosed and sicced dogs on Black people with the full force of US law supporting them. Black veterans were denied mortgages, even with the GI bill in place. Black people lived with separate facilities for drinking water or using the toilet. I'll stop there, for the sake of those following this thread for the right reasons.
So, tell me again, White America, how the USofA is not foundationally and institutionally racist to the core?


message 23: by Chad (last edited Jun 03, 2020 08:30AM) (new)

Chad Urdy An American Dilemma The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy by Gunnar Myrdal Gunnar Myrdal

An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy


“In this landmark effort to understand African American people in the New World, Gunnar Myrdal provides deep insight into the contradictions of American democracy as well as a study of a people within a people. The title of the book, An American Dilemma, refers to the moral contradiction of a nation torn between allegiance to its highest ideals and awareness of the base realities of racial discrimination. The touchstone of this classic is the jarring discrepancy between the American creed of respect for the inalienable rights to freedom, justice, and opportunity for all and the pervasive violations of the dignity of blacks.”

1944; 1,483p on Commission from the Carnegie Institute. A great backbone book to begin with.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

;-;


message 25: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Groves Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

Is there any chance you can get some from your Library? Actually, I can't right now, but may be able to request some for pick-up soon.
But I too don't know where to start buying.


message 26: by Pauline (new)

Pauline I know this is fiction rather than non-fiction, but I highly recommend The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead as well.


message 27: by ClaraBelle (new)

ClaraBelle Pauline wrote: "I know this is fiction rather than non-fiction, but I highly recommend The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead as well."
Yesss!


message 28: by Halie (new)

Halie Burgess Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I don't think there is a right or wrong on where to start - just to start and don't stop.

Thriftbooks.com is used books of popular titles, you may be able to find some on there :)


message 29: by Lina (new)

Lina Pauline wrote: "I know this is fiction rather than non-fiction, but I highly recommend The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead as well."

If Beale Street Could Talk, also fiction, is a great story as well! Very empathetic. And the movie is gorgeous.

For non-fiction, Negroland by Margo Jefferson is a great look into the lives of more affluent black people in the US this past century, and how they still went through a lot.

Well-Read Black Girl has many different viewpoints and I also learned a lot from that.


message 30: by Ettore (new)

Ettore Pasquini I just started reading The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, from the first chapter it seems very well researched. It's the companion book of the homonymous PBS series, which I also recommend:

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow by Richard Wormser

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3IxW...


Lalaa #ThisBlackGirlReads Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I've read about 90% of these selections and I would start at How to be an Anti-Racist and one that I recommend to all non-POC is White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. Also, I was able to read a lot of these from my local library using Libby or Hoopla so try that too.


message 32: by Beth (new)

Beth Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I would recommend So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.

So You Want to Talk About Race is a great starting point if you are just diving into this topic, and The New Jim Crow, while not officially on this list, is the most enraging book about this topic I've read so far.


message 33: by Mairy (new)

Mairy I read Barracoon last month and it was an exceptional read, narrated by a native African transported to the United States in the 1800s. Everyone needs to read it. I was called ignorant and racist by Americans of different ethnic backgrounds when I mentioned facts I have learned while reading this book. They insisted that I was reading trash and that I should stop making assumptions. We all need to open our horizons and start reading African American literature narrated from different perspectives. So thank you GR for putting this list together.


message 34: by Julian (new)

Julian W Alongside the books on the slave trade listed above, maybe this book could be added to the list, just to give a slightly more balanced perspective.

This book documents the one million white Europeans, enslaved by black African barbery pirates, who used to drop anchor and empty entire coastal villages, men as galley slaves (until they could no longer row and were thrown overboard,) the women were sold as sex slaves.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6...


message 35: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Very happy to see this list and looking forward to additional lists of books about Black joy, and fiction books that center a BIPOC protagonist.


message 36: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Nelms Black Lives Matter! Educate yourselves, Diversify your reading!


message 37: by Alyse (new)

Alyse Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

How to Be An Antiracist is a great place to start. It provides a lot of great history and is focused on actionable things you can do in an easily comprehended format.


message 38: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Duffy I know Goodreads is owned by Amazon but just for this topic let's try to shop black owned bookstores for this content.

https://www.phillymag.com/news/2020/0...


message 39: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Brianna wrote: "I know Goodreads is owned by Amazon but just for this topic let's try to shop black owned bookstores for this content.

https://www.phillymag.com/news/2020/0..."


Agreed! Thank you for the link.


message 40: by Jim (new)

Jim Read read read!
James Baldwin is a masterclass in race relations and the complex psychology of racism on black and white people.
Autobiography of Malcolm X
The history of the "founding fathers" and slavery. It is dry if you dislike history (I love history, so it's interesting for me). It is crucial to understand not only how and why slaves were brought and how it was normalized ("Enlightenment" ideas about White Supremacy), but how the fight between those for states' rights over federal control fashioned the nuances of slavery and its growth as not only an economic driver, but as a form of social control and political power.
Ibram X. Kendi - Stamped From The Beginning & How To Be An Anti-Racist
Black Feminist Thought - Patricia Hill Collins


J A  (One of the many Jennifers) Michelle wrote: "Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

You might try the Libby app, link..."


Assuming Miryamu has access to a public system. Not everyone does, even in the United States. But, yes the digital resources of your average public library system are great sources for these titles. Libby is just the beginning.


message 42: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Norris Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I've had quite a few people in other spheres also recommend "How to be Antiracist" so I think that would definitely be a good place to start.


message 43: by Andreas (new)

Andreas  Chari Jennifer wrote: "Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I've had quite a few people in ot..."


same. I might start that as soon as I finish reading some other reads


message 44: by Frank (last edited Jun 03, 2020 12:07PM) (new)

Frank Me and White Supremacy Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad How about [book [book:Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor|46002342]:Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor|46002342] by Layla F. Saad


message 45: by Amber (new)

Amber Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

Start with "So You Want to Talk About Race" or "How to Be Anti-Racist." Both books provide education that can and should be explored further, but what's most critical right now is action, and both books articulate how that action may look. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is everyone's responsibility to combat racism.


message 46: by Cassie (new)

Cassie Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I get most of my books (typically audio books) through my local library and listen via OverDrive!


message 47: by Adaoma (new)

Adaoma Karima Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."
Is the library an option for you?


message 48: by Annie (new)

Annie I don't know well the African American story but I would like recommend Beloved by Tony Morrison and The hate u Give that I read and I loved so much. Now that my English reading is better I can learn more about this sad situation.


message 49: by Martha (last edited Jun 03, 2020 05:09PM) (new)

Martha Miryamu wrote: "Anybody could recommend where to start among those books? I've got a tight budget, so I have to pick one or two, but they all seem interesting..."

I've read So You Want to Talk About Race, How to Be an Antiracist, When They Call You a Terrorist, and a Black Women's History of the United States. I recommend all of those.


« previous 1 3 4 5
back to top