The Ultimate Reading Guide to Black History Month
Welcome to October! This month brings with it the rain and colder temperatures of autumn and, of course, celebrations of Black History Month. We at Ultimate Library are kicking off the celebrations with our ultimate guide to Black authors and Black writing. We have included titles from all different genres from children’s stories to history to bestselling fiction so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Black History Month gives us a chance to honor the history and contributions of the Black community and in this blog we are looking at these through the eyes of Black authors.
So you can grab any one of these books and curl up away from the rain and the cold weather and find out about the many varied Black experiences. We have looked not just Black British experiences but also across the pond with African American experiences and across the African diaspora as a whole.
Everyone Versus Racism: A Letter to My Children by Patrick Hutchinson
During a confrontation between Black Lives Matters demonstrators and counter-protestors, Patrick Hutchinson, a black man, was photographed carrying a white man to safety. This image, shared across the globe, change Patrick’s life. He writes this open letter describing his life as a black man and how we can inspire real change by working together.
Misfits: A Personal Manifesto by Michaela Coel
Following her acclaimed Edinburgh Festival lecture, actor and writer Michaela Coel greatly impacted not only her audience but also herself. This book builds on that speech with Coel, telling us of her reckoning with trauma and her transformation into her own champion. By embracing our differences we can transform our lives; all we need is honesty, empathy and inclusion.
Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story Celebrating the Windrush Generation by Floella Benjamin and Diane Ewen
This book shows the journey Floella Benjamin took at 10 years old as she sailed from Trinidad to London. Brought to life through the beautiful illustrations by Diane Ewen, the journey is shown through a child’s eyes with the optimism and the apprehension of their welcome. Benjamin presents big difficult topics with ease and joy.
Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh
A complete biography of the great leader, military genius and revolutionary hero Toussaint Louverture. Following the Haitian Revolution and the abolition of slavery in 1793, Toussaint became the leader of the black population and eventually their governor and leader of the republican army. His story travels the globe, featuring diplomacy and Machiavellian dealings before being captured by the Napoleonic Army. His name became a legend among the African diaspora, European liberals and progressive Americans.
Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka
A clever whodunit focusing on the corridors of power and corruption of high office. From Nobel Prize winner Soyinka, this book provides a scathing indictment of Nigeria’s political elite from one of the country’s loudest and most celebrated political activists. Including elements of Yoruba culture, it is full of satire, humour and pathos.
Endgame by Malory Blackman
The final installation of Blackman’s groundbreaking series Noughts & Crosses. Taking inspiration from the real-world events of recent years, this novel provides an aptly topical and exciting read. Readers will see the dramatic conclusion of Sephy and Callums forbidden love affair as well as its impact on their families for generations. Blackman has been a stalwart of the YA genre and her work has been so impactful it is included in the national curriculum.
The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman, introduction by Oprah Winfrey
On the 20th of January 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at the presidential inauguration. She captivated not only the viewers in the USA but audiences across the world with her powerful and uplifting poem, bringing the kind of hope that can bind a nation.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vignes sisters will always be identical but after they have grown apart their lives look increasingly different. After 10 years, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same town she once ran away from. The other sister secretly passes for white with her white husband knowing nothing about her past. What happens when their daughters’ lives intersect?
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic by Lilly Workneh, Jestine Ware, Sonja Thomas, Diana Odero and CaShawn Thompson
Featuring the incredible stories of over 100 real-life black women and girls from around the world, this book is designed to inspire young readers by building their confidence and providing a global generation of girls with inspiring figures from over 30 countries. From tennis star Naomi Osaka to Empress Taytu Betul, these stories are amplified in a way never done
The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola
This is a story of millennial existential angst, told through the eyes of a young Londoner, Michael, as he grapples with the idea of taking his own life. He has a promising future, a blossoming career and a solid group of friends but the weight of it is all too much when combined with issues bigger than himself. Despite finding comfort in those around him, he alone must decide if his life is worth living.