Fiction, nonfiction, memoir… Team Word In Black loves books. During our meetings, we regularly talk about what we’re reading and share book recommendations. We also come across plenty of must-reads during our reporting. (It turns out that experts in their field also somehow find the time to write books!) That’s why our education data reporter, Maya Pottiger, came up with the brilliant idea of sharing the books written by folks we talk to with the Word In Black community.
Every Friday, we’ll be adding to our reading list to provide you with new titles to check out this summer. After all, everyone can always use more reading recs, right? So click through the slideshow to find your next summer read right here.
Double Crossed – “Double Crossed” is a story about breaking generational curses. Serial entrepreneur and mental health advocate George Johnson wrote this memoir after learning the helpful practice of journaling in therapy. He talked about the practice and how it’s helped him heal in our June 1 Twitter Space about healing Black generational trauma.
All Boys Aren’t Blue – “All Boys Aren’t Blue” can be found among the top 10 on both the teen titles of 2021 list and the most challenged books of 2021. In the memoir-manifesto, George M. Johnson honors the LGBTQ+ community by telling their story through a series of intimate personal essays.
Unprotected – In her new memoir, “Unprotected,” Rae Lewis-Thornton shares how childhood trauma shaped her life and ultimately led to her contracting HIV. Read our interview with Thornton to learn more about her activism work and novel.
Not Paved for Us – “Not Paved for Us,” by Camika Royal, chronicles a fifty-year period in Philadelphia education, and offers a critical look at how school reform efforts do and do not transform outcomes for Black students and educators.
America, Goddam – In “America, Goddam,” feminist historian and author Treva B. Lindsey tackles the question, “how can we stop the cycle of violence against young women and girls?” and she calls for others to support safe spaces for and by Black women and girls. Read our interview with Lindsey to learn more about her and the powerful organizations fighting for Black women and girls.
Miss Pearly’s Girls – “Miss Pearly’s Girls” follows four estranged sisters who return to rural Arkansas when their mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness. They have to face everything they left behind, including each other. The captivating family drama comes from within the Word In Black family, written by Houston Defender managing editor Reshonda Tate Billingsley.
The Personal Librarian – “The Personal Librarian” by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray is a historical fiction novel that tells the incredible (and little-known) story of Belle da Costa Greene. She was the personal librarian to J. P. Morgan and became part of New York high society while hiding her true identity: the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality.
The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health – In “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health,” mental health advocate Dr. Rheeda Walker faces the Black mental health crisis head-on. She offers Black Americans the tools they need to navigate the racist mental healthcare system so Black folk can find the support that they deserve.
Babylon Be Still – In his debut book, “Babylon Be Still,” Sam P.K. Collins, education writer for The Washington Informer, takes readers on his journey of social and political self-development. Go with Collins from graduation, through his teaching career and journalism jobs, to learn about the experiences that shaped his worldview and inspired him to adopt Pan-African Nationalism in all its manifestations.
Seven Days In June – If you’re squeezing in one more beach trip before the summer ends, Tia Williams’ “Seven Days in June” is the perfect book to take along. Taking place over one hot week in New York, the novel follows two authors as they reconnect for the first time in 15 years. It’s romantic, witty, and smart, and you won’t be able to put it down!
Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop – In “Shine Bright,” a surprising, heartbreaking, and soaring story, the author, award-winning journalist, producer, and music expert Danyel Smith chronicles how American pop was created by pioneering Black women who built the genre stretching back to the country’s founding.
Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code – Ruha Benjamin’s “Race After Technology” explores how new technologies are framed as “benign and pure,” even though they perpetuate social inequities. The book, which was a 2020 winner of the Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award (for anti-racist scholarship) from the American Sociological Association Section on Race & Ethnic Minorities, also shares ideas on how we can combat these inequities. Read more about the work she is doing to combat tech bias here.
Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself – Rooted in the latest research and best practices used in cognitive behavioral therapy, Nedra Glover Tewwab’s nonfiction book promises to help readers “end the struggle, speak up for what you need, and experience the freedom of being yourself.”
Black Girls Must Die Exhausted – Written by Jayne Allen, “Black Girls Must Die Exhausted” is the first novel of a captivating three-book series that takes an intimate look at modern womanhood through the lens of a young Black woman who must rely on courage, laughter, and love—and the support of her two longtime friends—to overcome an unexpected setback that threatens the most precious thing she’s ever wanted.
The Keeper – “The Keeper,” by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, is a horror graphic novel that follows a young Black girl who finds herself trapped between desperation and her family’s dark history. The novel reflects on the horror Black Americans face every day, while still staying true to the horror genre. Check author Tananarive Due’s interview with us on why Black women are embracing the horror genre.
Hood Feminism – “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall critiques the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement and offer a strong voice for the often overlooked, arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women.