February is Black History Month

black history month

In recognition of Black History Month, here is a selection of books by Black authors, recommended by SPL staff.

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We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedyby Ta-Nehisi Coates. An eloquently written, meticulously analyzed, powerfully presented, and completely unwavering gaze at the major role that racism has played in American history, and still plays in current politics, law, and economics. This is a sometimes infuriating but always enlightening look at case after case of repeated and unwarranted social injustice, i.e., a book that everyone needs to read. Audience: Those who enjoy excellent, meticulously researched nonfiction. Recommended by Jim, Head of Circulation


I Love My Hairby Col Williams. A local autobiographical zine that discusses black hairstyles, and the author's relationship with their hair. Audience: Local zine lovers! Recommended by Tim, Technology Librarian


My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite. In this Nigerian dark comedy, Korede is constantly cleaning up after her sister Ayoola, who uses men for their money and then ends up killing them. Audience: Fans of quirky, dark and fast reads. Recommended by Heidi, Reference Librarian

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Breathe: A Letter to My Sonsby Imani Perry. Perry describes what that is like for her sons growing up black in America, a country that hasn't been a safe place for black children. She wants her sons to not be hindered by what they see as limitations and appreciate the beautiful things in life. What she wants most is for her sons to become the people they want to be.  She challenges white America to see the potential of black children. Audience: All Americans, especially parents and caregivers. Recommended by Marita, Head of East Branch

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A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines. When Jefferson, an African-American man, is sentenced to death for a murder he didn't commit, Jefferson's godmother approaches Grant Wiggins, a local schoolteacher respected in the black community, with a daunting request: teach Jefferson how to die with dignity. Audience: Those who want a brilliantly written classic. Recommended by Kevin, Head of Reference

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The Black God's Drumsby P.J. Djeli Clark. Set in an alternate 1880s New Orleans, this compelling novella sees a street urchin and a sky pirate, both inhabited by orisha (Yoruba deities), take on a phantom cell of the Confederate army in an effort to wrest a dangerous magical weapon from their control. Audience: Teens who love steampunkish themes and alternate history. Recommended by Jo, Business Manager

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Black PantherWorld of Wakanda and Black Panther and the Crew, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey, Alitha Martinez, and Afua Richardson. Love comics? These are all written and illustrated by mega-talents. Wakanda forever! Audience: Any and all comics lovers. Recommended by Ellen, Interim Head of Teen Services

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New Kid, by Jerry Craft. Jordan transfers to a prep school in middle school, and deals with new friends, new teachers, and plenty of microaggressions. Excellent, excellent graphic novel. Audience: Perfect for middle-grade/tweens who love graphic novels. Recommended by Alison, Interim Head of West Branch

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Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson. Heartfelt emotional family story of teen parents who deal with their future choices differently, while the story goes back and forth in time and touches on issues of class, race, sexuality and education -- (beautifully written in only about 200 pages!). Audience: Fans of beautiful and brief family yarns. Recommended by Mary, Reference Librarian


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