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6 Books by Black Authors for the 2024 PopSugar Reading Challenge

When I saw 6 Books by Black Authors for the Read Harder Challenge at Book Riot, I was inspired to do the same for another popular one – the 2024 PopSugar Reading Challenge – and share some of my favorite books that would fit perfectly with some of the reading prompts.

2. A bildungsroman

The Mothers, Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half

The Mothers follows Nadia, Luke and Aubrey as they grow up together making good and bad choices as their lives intertwine in unexpected ways. This is a book about choices, and how they can affect us years later. It’s an emotional read and will give you all the feels … but it was also kind of sad throughout. The Mothers left me a scattered mess when I was done reading it, and it left me thinking about the characters long after I finished reading it.

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently?

18. A book set in space

Binti, Nnedi Okorafor

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

The World(s) in the novella, Binti, are so beautifully and imaginatively written. DO listen to the audiobook narrated by Robin Miles. You’ll get a feel for the pronunciations and more of a feel for the nuances of each character.

34. A book with at least three POVs

An American Marriage, Tayari Jones

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In An American Marriage, the author takes us a journey with a man who is falsely imprisoned, and the effect it has on his family. He gets out of prison, and things are just not the same. How do you think you would react under circumstances? Or is this one of those things where no matter what you think – until it actually happens to you, you won’t know what you’d do?! This book made me think about how life can throw you curve balls sometimes – and sometimes – they hurt like a bitch!

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding.

35. A book with magical realism

Kindred, Octavia Butler

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Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.

Kindred took on looking at slavery times through the eyes of a modern day woman, as Dana goes back in time, but also through a slaves eyes. And as you can imagine, in Butler’s brilliant hands, we get a very nuanced and complex story. This review at Goodreads is brilliant at breaking down the themes in the book.

39. A fiction book by a trans or nonbinary author

Pet, Akwaeke Emezi

Pet is a beautifully written book. It’s may seem like a fantasy novel at first, but that’s just the vector for the story. It talks of real world “monsters” and takes a hard look at the lengths that kids will have to go to sometimes in order to be believed. The audiobook narration by Christopher Myers is FANTASTIC. The author does a phenomenal job of bringing out the character of the characters. Pet should be in every school library. 

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

40. A horror book by a BIPOC author

The Reformatory, Tananarive Due

Twelve-year-old Robbie Stephens, Jr., is sentenced to six months at the Gracetown School for Boys, a reformatory in Jim Crow Florida that is a chamber of terrors where he sees the horrors of racism and injustice, for the living, and the dead. Robbie also has a talent for seeing ghosts, or haints. But what was once a comfort to him after the loss of his mother has become a window to the truth of what happens at the reformatory. Boys forced to work to remediate their so-called crimes have gone missing, but the haints Robbie sees hint at worse things.

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If you don’t already know, Tananarive Due is an incredible writer. I could have easily put Ghost Summer or The Good House here as well. The Reformatory is her latest novel, and this is a grim one. First, it’s set during slavery times, and the descriptions are graphic! It’s a horrific time, and the author’s skill with words makes for vivid imagery. But the story is also compelling, blending together injustice, death, hauntings, grief and so much more. This is a tough read, but so, so worth it. Empathy starts with seeing … and this book lays it bare.

Have you read any of these books? Or have any recommendations to add to the list?

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  1. […] two+ Last week, we shared 6 Books by Black Authors for the PopSugar Reading Challenge. […]