A Black History Month reading list with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir, and even a musical tie-in edition.
THE DEFENDER: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America by Ethan Michaeli. Veteran reporter Ethan Michaeli tells the story of Chicago’s iconic black newspaper, the family and the journalists who made it great, and the hidden history of black America in the twentieth century.
THE BLACK PRESIDENCY: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson. A provocative and lively deep dive into the meaning of America’s first black presidency, from “one of our most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today” (Vanity Fair)
THE TURNER HOUSE by Angela Flournoy. A National Book Award shortlisted novel centered on the journey of the Turner family and its thirteen siblings, particularly the eldest and youngest, as they face the ghosts of their pasts, the imminent loss of their mother, and the necessary abandonment of their family home in struggling Detroit.
UNDER THE UDALA TREES by Chinelo Okparanta. Inspired by her mother’s stories of war and Nigeria’s folktale traditions, Under the Udala Trees is Chinelo Okparanta’s deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.
FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES by Charles Blow. A gorgeous, moving memoir of how one of America’s most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past.
THRALL: Poems by Natasha Trethewey. The Pulitzer Prize–winning Native Guard explored Natasha Trethewey’s relationship with her black mother. Thrall takes on the uneasy relationship between Trethewey and her white father. It charts the intersections of public and personal history that determine the roles to which a mixed-race daughter and her white father are consigned.
THE COLOR PURPLE (Musical Tie-In) by Alice Walker. the story of two sisters—one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.