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Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,462 ratings  ·  339 reviews
An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't co
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Ballantine Books
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4.44  · 
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 ·  1,462 ratings  ·  339 reviews

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Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, race
"Myths tell us what those like us have done, can do, should do. Without myths to lead the way, we hesitate to leap forward." ~N.K. Jemisen, Dreaming Awake

We read for many reasons. We read to find adventure. We read to escape our problems. We read to learn about others. We read to learn new things. We read to be entertained. Perhaps most of all, we read to know we are not alone. A well-written book can show us who we are and can make us feel we belong.

It was a joy to read Well-Read Black Girl: F
I remember the time my teacher placed a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my hands. I identified strongly with young Maya. Through her walk a sense of power was infused in me. I felt that I could endure. Just the idea that a little brown girl's voice held that much power. I remember shortly after that Dr. Angelou came to visit my local library. She towered over the patrons yet she always managed to embrace everyone at their own level. Even at that young age I understood that I was in th ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love reading books about reading. It’s always inspiring to hear about what books loomed large in a person’s life. And it’s doubly exciting when those looking back are authors giving insight to the texts that spurred them to write their own stories. I also genuinely respect the way women are able to connect with one another in a way men can’t, (won’t?). It’s really something to see. I’m envious.

Glory Edim has created a phenomenon that started with conversations around a tee shirt she was wearin
Stacie C
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve always been a voracious reader. My mother used to read me bedtime stories at night and as soon as I learned how to read, more often than not you would find me with a book in my hands. There are two books that stand out that were an obvious reflection of me and my family: The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton and Pass It On: African American Poetry by Wade Hudson. Those two books had Black people on the covers, Black people on the pages and were about Black people. Those were the two boo ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this. I'm buying hardcopies for my daughter's.
Being a reader is an incredible gift, providing me with a lens to interpret the world. Most important, it has invigorated my imagination and allowed me to choose which narratives I want to center and hold close.

What a brilliant collection of essays by black women. I love books about books, readers and writers and Well-Read Black Girl covered all three. I admire so many of the writers who contributed to this collection, it is no wonder I devoured this book because I wanted to know more about
Reading in Black & White
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book perfectly captures what it feels like to be a black girl that loves books and the difference they can make in your life...I can’t wait for everyone to experience this one!!!
Bree Hill
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those gems I’m grateful I picked up. This is a collection of black women sharing their stories of finding authors who inspired them to become writers and finding works where they finally saw characters who looked like them.

I loved reading these ladies’ stories. Highly recommend the audiobook if you can get your hands on it. Also throughout the book are recommendations so have a paper and pen handy.
Cortney (cortingbooks)
3.25 Stars

Seems appropriate that my first read of the year is #diversespines book of the month Well Read Black Girl by Glory Edim. I enjoyed this collection of essays that mirrored some of my own experiences growing up as a lover of books. I must say the two essays that stood out the most were Gabourey Sidibe’s “Gal: A Hard Row To Hoe” and N. K. Jemisin’s “Dreaming Awake.” They were both brutally honest and funny.
Kate ☀️ Olson
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essay, aoc, adult-reads
✨ literary spark
This essay collection is pure gold, my reading friends. An anthology of works about books and reading by some of the most prominent Black female writers today, these essays divulge a vast array of texts that inspired and shaped each author.
As a school librarian I have always firmly believed that there is no childhood canon that will reach all children, necessitating wide-ranging collections available to all. This book solidified that belief.
We have no idea what work will conne
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to #netgalley and #randomhousepublishing for giving me my first ARC, Well-Read Black Girl! This book is the epitome of why representation matters. Well-Read Black Girl is an anthology of essays by black women writers. All of the women represented in the book share a common love for reading at an early age, and the lack of representation in books with girls who look like them. Well-Read Black girl is very timely and necessary. Thanks to the wonderful women who contributed to this book and ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Review to come.
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m so glad I finally picked this up from my bookshelf, because my reading slump was soooo deep! This collection has taken me out of my slump and imbibed me with new inspiration.

This anthology is a wonderful ode to Black sisterhood and to reading. Each contributor’s take on reading/writing/existing as a Black woman in this world felt like journal entries laden with affirmations to the reader and themselves. To have so many established writers contributing in this collection is an honor I’m sure
A book about reading books with essays written by Black female authors and how they found representation in literature. This anthology had been thinking about my reading life when I was younger and I wish I was exposed to more authors who looked like me and shared similar experiences of a Black girl coming of age in America. Instead I spent my time reading VC Andrews, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike and Sweet Valley High.

The only thing wrong with this book is that I don’t know when I will have the
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Reading for me was a vehicle for self-exploration when real life wasn't safe." -Dhonielle Clayton

Well-Read Black Girl is a fascinating collection of essays edited by Glory Edim, who created the Well-Read Black Girl community. These essays are by women from different walks of life who all adore reading. They talk about when they first found themselves in books, authors and books they connected with, and how reading changed their lives. If you are a book lover, your hear will be touched by hearin
Joshunda Sanders
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to re-read my galley again, which I took some time to do this weekend, before I wrote a review because I wanted to remember and savor all of the goodness of this anthology, which for Black women & girl readers is replete with testimony and witness, healing and recognition, a booklist to last you for a good long while and more than that, even. More maybe than I can express here, so I'll write more certainly as someone who has her own story of a life shaped by finding Black women writ ...more
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Reading about what books sime of my favorite authors enjoyed or what books inspired them was fascinating. I felt like I was chatting with each author over a drink while they talked about their love of books and how the written word helped them deal with the obstacles they faced. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Initially, when I learned of this book I thought it was a gathering of fiction by some of today's most prolific African-American women writers. To my surprise, the book instead consisted of prolific women writers of color writing about the books that influenced them early in their careers and beyond. Although all of the essays were wonderful and include some of today's most touted writers including Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, and Jaqueline Woodson, a few stood out to me. Veronica Chambers story o ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn’t love this book more if I tried. The stories were honest, real, inspiring and completely captivating. Reading about how books played a pertinent role in each writers life was everything to me and I connected with these writers possibly more than I’ve ever connected with a writer before. I felt like I was getting a deep dig into their life-and I’m so grateful for that. Oh and the book list at the end-literally made my day! Excellent book-all the stars!
Nicole O
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a much needed anthology of stories from prominent black women writers. Never before have I thought to ask myself when, how or why I fell in love with books, or when I first saw myself within the pages of a story or novel. This collection dives head first into these questions, with each essayist writing about the works and people that have influenced them the most in both their lives and their careers. I guarantee you will walk away from this book with an intimidating (in a good way) ...more
Alexis Sims
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book good gave me all the feels !☺😊❤🤗 ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love reading books about reading. I especially enjoyed this one as it brought together stories from Some of our best black authors. It shines a light on the importance of hearing these voices regardeless of race, age or gender. The essays were creative and original. It was a treat to read some of my favorite authors like Tayari Jones, some I had not read in awhile such as Rebecca Walker and a few new names I’ll be sure and pick up!
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spectacular collection of well-written works by brilliant african-american female authors that has something for everyone no matter the race, religion, or gender. Glory Edim brilliantly brings together essays from writers: Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing); Tayari Jones (An American Marriage); Lynn Nottage (Sweat); Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn); Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face); Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing); Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish); and Barbara Smith ( ...more
chantel nouseforaname
Beautiful. There's magic in finding yourself. There's something powerful about seeing your face in the stories around you on television, in film, in the media, in books, etc.

It's a privilege not generally afforded to people of colour but that we're snatching it left, right and centre. We're telling our own stories and there are so many OGs/legends who shared their/our stories for our pleasure, and so that we could have a place. They carved out a space for us, the Toni Morrisons, the Nikki Giova
Mark Robison
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m not the intended audience for this book, but I think anybody who loves books will love this. It's a bunch of writers talking about books that inspired them, and through their telling, an amazing picture of America emerges.

In between some of the essays are lists of recommended books by black women in various categories: classics, poetry, science fiction, feminism, etc. The contributors include many excellent writers in their own right such as Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, N.K. Jemisin, and Jacq
Steph's Romance Book Talk
4 Stars / 0 Steam Fans

This is a group of beautifully written odes to why these black female authors fell in love with writing and reading. With each story provided I had the opportunity to see through the eyes of women that are similar to me by being black women.

This book was read for #contemporaryathon - read a book with blurple on the cover.

This specific video review will be included in the February 2019 wrap-up.

For other video book reviews check out my YouTube Channel: Steph's Romance Book
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a phenomenal essay collection - the range of voices included a complex discussion about the importance of representation in literature. The collection was also as a celebration of the talent and legacy of black women writers, and the passion within each essay really brought this collection to life. I also loved the suggested reading lists included throughout the book!
If you are anything like me you understand the crazy love one can have for reading. I have read, devoured, books for as long as I can remember (literally as my mum taught me to read when I was only a few years old). I spent my elementary school years pretending I was George in The Famous Five, or Harriet the Spy. Later on I was Cathy yearning after Heathcliff and then Jacqueline in Gone To Soldiers. I always had a pool of heroines I could relate to and who I wanted to be. Growing up it never daw ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Editor Glory Edim shares authors' brief reflections on their literary influences, primarily in terms of books or their authors. These stories are broken up by short bibliographies of black-women-authored books fitting specific categories. The author's essays include white and black authors, both male and female. I wish Edim's lists included mysteries written by black authors, but it did not. A closing bibliography includes the titles mentioned throughout the book. Since the book is written prima ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love reading books about reading. It’s always inspiring to hear about what books loomed large in a person’s life. And it’s doubly exciting when those looking back are authors giving insight to the texts that spurred them to write their own stories. I also genuinely respect the way women are able to connect with one another in a way men can’t, (won’t?). It’s really something to see. I’m envious.

Glory Edim has created a phenomenon that started with conversations around a tee shirt she was wearin
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An Interview with Glory Edim, Founder of Well-Read Black Girl 1 3 Jan 13, 2019 09:08AM  

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Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and digital platform that celebrates the uniqueness of Black literature and sisterhood. In fall 2017 she organized the first-ever Well-Read Black Girl Festival. She has worked as a creative strategist for over ten years at startups and cultural institutions, including The Webby Awards and the New York Foundation for the ...more
“The literary establishment continues to privilege work that’s just a touch removed, “refined” they would call it. Writers who tone down their anguish, their rage, their nontraditional, “deviant” choices are perceived as more skilled, more worthy of critical acclaim. This often has a lot to do with racism and sexism, and the stories we are “allowed” to tell as people of color.” 2 likes
“It kept coming back to joy-- how could I live a life filled with it? And always, the answer that came back to me was "Write."

... I am here because of the indigenous people of this country, because of the enslaved people who were here before me, the young people of the civil rights movements who fought hard to get me to this moment.

My biggest responsibility is to recognize that I am part of the continuum, that I didn't just appear and start writing stuff down. I'm writing stuff down because Andre Lorde wrote stuff down, because James Baldwin wrote stuff down... and all the people who came before me -- set the stage for my work. I have to keep all of that in my heart as I move through the world, not only for the deep respect I have for them, but also for my own strength.

So my advice to other young writers: Read widely. Study other writers. Be thoughtful, Then go out and do the work of changing the form, finding your own voice, and saying what you need to say. Be fearless. And care.

The fact that young people continue to rise brings me such joy. They are where I look to find my hope.

-- "Continue to Rise: A Conversation with Jacqueline Woodson”
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