Every year I set a goal of reading at least two books per month, and if I happen to read more then, great. In deciding what books to read, I inevitably have no clue and end up taking one of two actions: (1) sending a text to a couple of friends who are avid readers and asking for suggestions, and (2) consulting the wise sage, Google for recommendations. I often select a random assortment of books and read, well, whatever.
This time around, however, I’m now taking a different, more intentional approach to the books that I read. I’ve been thinking about how I can continue my commitment to supporting more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) womxn writers.
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
So, if, like me, you have a desire to read more stories from diverse voices to support BIPOC writers, and you’re not really sure what type of book you want to read or where to start, I’m here to help. I’m sharing another curated list of books by BIPOC women authors you can add to your reading list right now. You’re welcome.
As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life”, and that truth also applies to this reading list. I wanted a reading list that includes stories by women from diverse backgrounds, including BIPOC Canadian voices and a range of genres – classic literary fiction, memoir and anti-black racism works. The books on this list represent a small selection of titles that I’m excited to read (and a few I want to read again). Hopefully, there is a title or two that gets you just as excited!
Save this post and share it with a friend or with folks in your book club. Let’s continue to show love to BIPOC authors, independent bookstores and our public libraries.
10 Books by Women BIPOC Authors For Your Reading List
Butter Honey Pig Bread – Francesca Ekwuyasi
Butter Honey Pig Bread was longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize and tells the stories of twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. It is described as a “story of choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family.”
Edugyan’s Washington Black won the 2018 Giller Prize and was one of the New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of the Year. The novel tells the story of Washington Black, an 11-year-old field slave in Barbados and a wild travel adventure. The publisher’s synopsis describes this as “a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, and of a world destroyed and made whole again.”
Birdie tells the story of Bernice (Birdie) Meetoos, a Cree woman from British Columbia who travels in search of family and a place to call home while living with a dark secret from her past.
This story takes place in a resort town in Barbados. It’s the tale of Lala and her husband, a criminal, and the consequences that unfold from a burglary gone wrong. It’s a story about race, domestic violence, class and the interconnectedness of our lives.
Toni Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Beloved (she’s also held Nobel Prize in Literature and other accolades because she was brilliant). Beloved is the story of “Sethe, an escaped slave who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has withstood savagery and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.” It is a complex story that can be a challenging read at times.
Beloved was turned into a movie in the late 1990s starring Oprah, Thandie Newton and Danny Glover. You can read what Toni Morrison says about the origins of Beloved here.
Zora Neale Hurston’s, Their Eyes Were Watching God was first published in 1937. It is a classic of the Harlem Renaissance that tells a love story about Janie Crawford’s coming of age set in the southern US.
This is Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir of growing up in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 1970s during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement.
This book by Thought leader and racial justice educator, Rachel Ricketts was released in February 2021. Ricketts’ website states this book “offers mindful and practical steps for all humxns to dismantle white supremacy on a personal and collective level.” If you’ve ever heard Rickett’s speak, you’re in for some deep learning and awareness-raising.
This is Beverly Daniel Tatum’s classic book on the psychology of racism and how to talk about our racial identities.
Ijeoma Oluo’s book explores how to have honest conversations about race and racism and the impact on everyday life.
Looking for more books? Check out my previous list of 27 books for the year.
Feel free to follow me on Instagram @swaggerandgreys and let me know what books you’ve discovered that you’re loving!
This post first appeared on the Swell Made Co Blog.