We've Gotta Have it
We've Gotta Have it
Top Books by Black Authors
From a debut novel about the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society to a memoir exploring systemic racism in health care, here are the most anticipated recent or new books by Black authors
In honor of Black History Month, I am excited to share some of the best recent or new books by Black authors. Many years ago, while I was interviewing an author on my podcast, she challenged the audience to go to their bookshelves and notice how many books they had by authors of color. I accepted the assignment, too, and learned that there were so many books I didn’t have and hadn’t read. As a literary influencer, I have a responsibility to read and share widely, especially more inclusive stories that can be a portal into someone else’s experiences, open our minds, teach us something, and start important conversations. I am honored to select and share these must-read books by Black authors.
The House Of Eve ($27.99, by Sadeqa Johnson)
This was one of my favorite books of 2023 and, since reading it, I have been sharing it everywhere. The House of Eve takes place in 1950s Philadelphia where we meet 15-year-old Ruby Pearsall — an ambitious young girl with dreams of being the first in her family to go to college and getting out of the cycle of poverty that has plagued her family for generations. Ruby’s life takes a turn when she falls in love with someone that her family does not approve of. Meanwhile, in nearby Washington, D.C., we meet Eleanor Quarles who has her own ambitions and a trunk full of secrets. Eleanor crosses paths with the charming William Pride at Howard University. It is love at first sight — but of course there is a catch — and Eleanor finds herself torn between the man she loves and a family who isn’t quick to accept her. Ruby and Eleanor cross paths too as the story unfolds and introduces questions about reproductive issues, agency, and a whole host of adjacent issues that make this a thought-provoking and unputdownable novel.
Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine
($28, by Uché Blackstock, MD)
Dr. Uché Blackstock, founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, threads her personal story about being a second generation Black physician, which unfortunately is quite rare, into this memoir. Blackstock’s mother graduated from Harvard Medical school in 1976 and was the first person in her family to go to college and then medical school. Dr. Blackstock shares her mother’s story, alongside her own, to emphasize how deeply embedded systemic racism is in the United States, both in the past and present. She explains why even she, as a Black woman with a college and medical degree from Harvard, is still five times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than her white peers. She is a thought leader on racism, inherent biases, and inequities in America’s health care system.
While We Were Burning ($28, by Sara Koffi)
This debut novel comes out in April and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Not only does the vibrant cover draw in the reader (and yes, we do judge!) but Koffi also says it is a mission to explore the nuances of “unlikeable female characters” and that screams, “read me!” After her best friend’s mysterious death, Elizabeth’s life in Memphis spirals out of control, so she hires Brianna, a poised and elegant personal assistant. Brianna seamlessly fits into Elizabeth’s world, becoming more than just an assistant. It’s a thriller centered on racism and classism and female friendship.
A Love Song For Ricki Wilde ($29, by Tia Williams)
Williams’ previous novel Seven Days In June was another of my favorites, and I was eagerly awaiting this release. In this tale of love, a carefree florist and a mysterious musician forge an unbreakable bond in Harlem’s rich history and magic. Unlike her socialite sisters, Ricki Wilde is a free spirit who leaves the family business dynasty down South to forge her own path in Harlem. Ricki is seeking a new life, and opening a flower shop is going to be one of the steps that gets her closer to her dream. Amidst the echoes of the Harlem Renaissance, she meets a charming stranger, which sets her life on another course entirely and she is up for the wild ride! The idea of leaving a secure family situation in pursuit of one’s dreams is inspiring and helps readers consider the road not taken.
All We Were Promised ($30, by Ashton Lattimore)
This debut novel, out in April, is based on the true story of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and the 1838 convention of anti-slavery advocates at Pennsylvania Hall. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially when told from the perspective of several voices. In All We Were Promised, we meet three characters: Nell, who comes from a long-standing, well-to-do family of free Black people who have lived in the city for generations; Charlotte, a young woman who, with her father, escaped enslavement on a tobacco farm; and Evie, a still enslaved young woman. These three women come from very different circumstances and as the story moves along we see what they are willing to risk for each other and their ideals. All We Were Promised makes this list because your book club will surely love it for the compelling conversations the story will provide.
For The Culture: Phenomenal Black Women and Femmes in Food: Interviews, Inspiration, and Recipes ($40, by Klancy Miller)
Attention foodies! This gorgeous anthology featuring Black women and femmes shaping today’s food scene is another must-have in the home. Miller has included women from famous chefs to activists, chronicling their journeys, lessons learned, and — of course — recipes. Some of the women included: Leah Penniman, a Black Kreyol farmer, mother, author, and food justice activist; Ashtin Berry, a respected activist and educator on the frontlines of hospitality and humanity; and Carla Hall, chef, television personality, and former model with her inspiring story and treasured recipes. This book is packed with stunning illustrations and food photos. I love a book that I can pick up and re-engage with time and again, always wanting to come back for more. Just like a delicious dish. Bon Appetit!
Robin Kall is a literary influencer who over the past two decades has built a devoted and passionate following. In addition to her radio talk show, Robin has hosted countless “can’t miss” author events including “Summer With Robin” and “Evening With Authors.” She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and their corgi, Benny. Follow Robin on X @robinkall, Instagram, or Facebook. Read more book lists by Robin.