A Book Guide for the Black Woman in Your Life - Part 1:
When the pandemic first began, I found myself running to streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime; but recently, I have revived my love for reading. Dusting off my bookshelf and turning the pages of a book can feel like visiting an old friend. Comforting and exasperating at times, reading the pages of a book can help you face hard truths and unpack issues previously undressed. They also serve as a vacation almost, like a trip to a distant land, without having to ever leave your home. Books have served as a means to escape the hectic and untimely events of 2020. Therefore, I have curated a list of good reads that are reflective of the themes surrounding such an interesting year. Below is my list of some of my favorite works that range from fiction, non-fiction, and a memoir.
The Vanishing Half - By Brit Bennett
This book's title speaks to the theme of colorism that is pervasive throughout this work. I had the pleasure of reading this book for a book club and was beyond taken aback. The novel is set in Louisiana and tells the story of twin sisters. One sister chooses to pass for white while the other remains in the black community. The plot exposes the intricate details of black womanhood. While at times cringe-worthy and other times a blissful experience, I could not help but remain engrossed in the characters and overall message(s) the author put together. This is a must-read that addresses themes of betrayal, and redemption (to name a few).
Hood Feminism - By Mikki Kendall
Mikki Kendall is a force to be reckoned with in Hood Feminism. For many students of the feminist movement, it is understood that its endeavors and achievements greatly overlooked black women. Mikki's debut works to shed light on this by drawing from her own experiences and providing commentary on the movement at-large. This is a work for the black woman in your life who has yet to discover her feminist roots or needs to become reacquainted with them.
This Will Be My Undoing - Morgan Jenkins
Similar to the theme of "Hood Feminism", Morgan Jenkins provides readers with a collection of essays on the intersectionality of what it means to be black, a woman, and coexisting in (white) America. Her stories explore the meaning of feminism, and her own experiences as a black woman; living in a country that is built on misogyny and racism. I recommended this book to a friend and she raved about how much she enjoyed reading it. There are so many affirming messages in this great and insightful read that will truly resonate with not just black women, but people from all walks of life and racial backgrounds.
I Can't Date Jesus - Michael Arceneaux
This pick is a little off-topic from the standpoint that it's not written by a woman for women, however, it is definitely worth reading. This book made me double over in laughter and addresses universal themes of love, sex, money, and family. Michael takes readers through a hilarious coming-of-age journey amidst the backdrop of Howard University in Washington, DC, NYC, and his hometown of Houston, Texas. You are sure to be in for a treat when cracking open the pages of this book. While seemingly random, it is sure to please and evoke memories of life as a struggling college student.
I'm Telling the Truth but I'm Lying - Bassey Ikpi
Bassey presents a raw and unapologetic account of her mental health journey with Bipolar Disorder II and Anxiety, as she takes readers on a ride that juxtaposes reality and her distorted sense of perception in various situations she encounters. This memoir will have readers on the edge of their seats, paying close attention to the author's radical honesty as she bares all, and peels back layers of her truth. What also makes this worth reading is her ability to weave into her stories, cultural nuances that speak to the Nigerian American immigrant experience.
While this is not a comprehensive list of every amazing book for the black woman in your life, it is my hope it can serve as a primer to spark curiosity and healthy dialogue. I chose these specific pieces of literature not only for their cultural relevance, but also because they have been my personal source of peace, strength, and enlightenment. So much of the conversation in mainstream society has been focused on systemic racism, sexism, and all the other "isms" that plague our society, and these books work to address those issues through our respective lenses.