Books are some of the best tools for developing tolerance and empathy, and few books are as rich and nuanced as those penned by Black women. One way Black authors are recognized in the publishing industry now and for future generations of bookworms is when these books make it onto bestseller lists. Starting this week, readers are encouraged to buy two books by Black authors from now until June 20. This initiative, being shared across social media with the hashtag #BlackoutBestsellerList, has the sole mission of demonstrating Black writers’ power in the publishing industry one book at a time. While Black literature is essential now and always, #BlackoutBestsellerList is a timely way to support well-deserving writers and help change the publishing industry to be more inclusive.
From memoirs to epics to essential sociological investigations, we’ve rounded up over 100 of the most important works written by Black women over the past century, extending from Africa to the Caribbean to America and from the pre-Civil War era to the distant future. If you’re looking to diversify your reading list, here are books by Black women that we consider to be essential reading.
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— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano, Haley Lyndes, and Tembe Denton-Hurst