It's always a good time to celebrate Black voices (not just during Black history month), and literature is one of the best ways to honor some of the community's most illuminating stories. Thanks to the work of African American authors, the world can better understand both the struggles and triumphs of Black people in America. From wise artists like Maya Angelou to new voices like Marlon James and Kiley Reid, and leaders like the Obamas, we've gathered some of the best books by Black authors to add to your reading list.

1. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

A 2011 National Book Award Winner, Salvage the Bones chronicles a 12-day period in which a poor Mississippi family faces the looming threat of a hurricane. With no mother, a drunken father, a pregnant 14-year-old, and wayward brothers, they have little access to helpful resources—except for love. Shop Now

2. How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Jones's bestselling memoir is a personal account of growing up in the South as a young gay man who's attempting to find himself while battling rocky relationships with family, friends, and lovers. Shop Now

3. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

In this debut for Emezi, we meet Ada, a young Nigerian woman who's born with multiple personalities (or spirits). As the story goes on, we hear from each, as they drive Ada towards reckless behavior as she grows up. But once she moves to America and endures a traumatic event, the spirits threaten to takeover. Shop Now

4. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

In this 2014 New York Times Bestseller, activist Janet Mock details the challenges of growing up in America as a multiracial, transgender woman, offering readers an honest look into the challenges of a marginalized community. Shop Now

5. Grand Union by Zadie Smith

In this collection of 11 short stories, Smith explores a variety of genres to reflect on the complexities of life in modern times through themes of "place, identity and rebirth, the persistent legacies that haunt our present selves and the uncanny futures that rush up to meet us." Shop Now

Read the full story here: 30 of the Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime


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