I will be the first to admit I did no reading in college, not for fun anyway. As a self-proclaimed proud bibliophile, I continued to buy books by authors I adored and let them collect dust for what I called, “My Gap Year Reading List.” Since graduating in May (shoutout to my family, mentors, friends and partner who helped get me to the finish line), one of my top priorities has been to refuel my love for reading. From audiobooks to anthologies, and everything in between, the following resources have helped me stay consistent, aware of new and upcoming works by Black women authors, and nourished my soul in only a way Black women’s words and stories can. I hope these help you as much as they’ve helped me!
Rebel Women Lit is a monthly book club based in Kingston, Jamaica centered around Black sisterhood and literature. Before the New Year, they created a reading challenge for book-lovers at various speeds that includes prompts which focus on books on and by POC, women, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. I’m currently working on the Avid Reader’s Plan! Members have also shared links to books they’re hoping to read this year, like Sasha’s list here.
Now this is a course I wish I’d had in undergrad! Dr. Martha S. Jones and Dr. Jessica Marie Johnson, professors in History and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University, have created an exceptional syllabus for their Black Womanhood course this spring. Their syllabus covers weekly topics that span from Black women in the Triangular Slave Trade to Black women’s vocality on social media, and they have been gracious enough to share it with all of us.
I love this list by Hope Wabuke for numerous reasons, but perhaps the most significant is that Wabuke took the extra time to arrange these upcoming works by release date. Now that I’ve already purchased my first two on the list, Naima Coster’s Halsey Street and Morgan Jerkins’ This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America, I’ve used Amazon’s pre-ordering to keep track off their release dates. Much like how we broke records for pre-sale tickets to Black Panther, pre-ordering sets the tone for publicity and sales for authors.
I was still a college student for half of 2017 and, as a history major, nothing makes me nerdy senses tingle more than reading about Black women change-makers in history. Oftentimes we need to look back to move forward and these nine books, most of which also written by Black scholars, revolutionize the histories we were taught in elementary and rightfully position Black women at the center of American history.
Whether you’re a once-in-awhile reader or the most dedicated bookworm, these lists and challenges by Black women and for Black women are sure to help! Happy reading booklovers!
Written by Alexandria Miller and Photography by Jamaica Gilmer for TBP