A (By No Means Complete) Reading List

“Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are a reflection. Books change your mind.”

Toni Morrison

In a recent interview with Penguin, Bernardine Evaristo, author of the Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other, spoke about her motivations for writing. “I’m motivated by history,” she said, “by being part of the African diaspora.” She went on to address the impact of her voice in literature: “We have a long way to go before we are able to explore the breadth of who we are in British culture.”

It has always been, and always will be, vital to educate ourselves on the world around us. In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we hope that Vision Books can become a platform for sharing resources on black history and literature, in a conscious effort to educate both ourselves and those around us. It is our duty to continue to amplify the voices of people of colour, because it is through reading and research that we can make lasting changes in the world.

Here you will find a list of books and essays by authors of colour, and which speak about the experiences of black people everywhere. By committing to reading even one of these books, you are expanding your consciousness of the lives around you, and giving black people a voice.

Lastly, we encourage you: don’t just read black literature at this moment. Read and support the works of black writers for the rest of your lives. Education is power, and it is through education that we can transform the attitudes of our society.

Classic Fiction

  • The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  • Beloved – Toni Morrison
  • Another Country – James Baldwin
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin
  • The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
  • Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
  • Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  • Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
  • The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon
  • Small Island – Andrew Levy
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Contemporary Fiction

  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
  • An Orchestra of Minorities – Chigozie Obioma
  • White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  • Red at the Bone – Jacqueline Woodson
  • An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
  • Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings – Marlon James
  • Black Leopard Red Wolf – Marlon James
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
  • The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
  • Sorry To Disrupt the Peace – Patty Yumi Cottrell
  • Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi
  • The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi
  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead
  • The Girl With the Louding Voice – Abi Daré
  • We Cast a Shadow – Maurice Carlos Ruffin
  • Washington Black – Esi Edugyan
  • The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta
  • Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson 
  • The Icarus Girl – Helen Oyeyemi 

Poetry, Theatre and Graphic Novels

  • A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry
  • Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine
  • Night Sky With Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong
  • I Am Alfonso Jones – Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings
  • Your Black Friend and Other Strangers – Ben Passmore
  • Say Her Name – Zetta Elliot, illustrated by Loveis Wise
  • Silencer – Marcus Wicker
  • Don’t Call Us Dead – Danez Smith
  • How to Be Drawn – Terrence Hayes
  • The Black Unicorn – Audre Lorde
  • Coal – Audre Lorde
  • Passion – June Jordan

Children’s/YA Fiction

  • Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Akata Witch – Nnedi Okorafor
  • Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
  • You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson
  • With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Refugee Boy – Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X – Ilyasah Shabazz
  • Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness – Anastasia Higginbotham
  • A Is for Activist – Innosanto Nagara
  • New Kid – Jerry Craft
  • This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work – Tiffany Jewell

Non-Fiction and Autobiography

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  • Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World – Layla F Saad
  • Don’t Touch My Hair – Emma Dabiri
  • Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging – Afua Hirsch
  • The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shukla
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge (available for free on Yorsearch)
  • The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander (available for free on Yorsearch)
  • Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
  • So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
  • The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
  • Divided Sisters: Bridging the Gap Between Black Women and White Women – Midge Wilson & Kathy Russell
  • They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement – Wesley Lowery
  • Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America – James Foreman Jr.
  • The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy – Lani Guiner
  • The Wretched of the Earth – Frantz Fanon
  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir – Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower – Brittney Cooper
  • Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race – Debby Irving
  • The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy – Andrea Flynn, Susan R. Holmberg, Dorian T. Warren, & Felicia J. Wong
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race – Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • How to Be Anti-Racist – Ibrahim X. Kendi

Other Resources For York Students