10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read

*If you are new here, WELCOME! In this post, I’ll share 10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read!

10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read
10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

In the recent Black Lives Matter movement and with Black History Month at hand, many book clubs are choosing books by black authors about the experience of being black in America (yes, even today) and about the call to eradicate racism.

Can racism truly ever be eradicated? I don’t know.

But, this year has been a year of examining our hearts in view of the often hidden racism that still exists in America. I say hidden because I think many people still struggle with acknowledging biases despite proclaiming otherwise.

Change starts by examining our own hearts and choosing to remove whatever hinders kindness to any member of the human race. That is the power each one of us holds.

Today I’m going to share with you not non-fiction books about the topic, but novels. There are lots of lists out on the internet right now about Black Lives Matter non-fiction. This is a list of fiction.

Sometimes fiction can help us lower our guard, peak over walls we didn’t know we had erected, and begin to empathize with someone far different than ourselves in a way that non-fiction can’t.

So, if your book club is considering choosing a novel for Black Lives Matter or Black History Month, check out these 10 novels.

10 Novels Your Book Club Should Read for Black Lives Matter and Black History Month

Despite the names of great black authors you may be familiar with like Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison, you may not know that there are so many recent titles by black authors of great talent that are amazing reads.

This list includes a list of recent titles, all published after 2010 (plus some 2021 releases!). Explore these new voices other readers are loving.

Here’s a quick list of the 10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read:

This Close to Okay

If you loved Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, you’ll love this novel around a similar premise (prevented suicide and mental health). Two people bond over a weekend after a chance encounter on a bridge brings them together. As they begin to get to know each other and understand the events leading up to the night on the bridge, each begins to heal and find hope.

This story of second chances and forgiveness is exactly what we all need right now.

This Close to Okay

The Kindest Lie

A layered and nuanced story about race, class, motherhood, and home, this novel is one that will have your book club talking for a while.

On the eve of the Obama inauguration, Ruth Tuttle is a married and successful black engineer. The future seems full of hope.

When her husband tells her that he’s eager to start a family, the secret Ruth’s kept from him broils to the surface. To move forward, she needs to go home, make peace with the past, and find the baby she was forced to leave behind as a teenager.

In Indiana, she finds her hometown plagued by unemployment and despair and unexpectedly befriends a young white boy, Midnight, who is desperate for connection. Just as she begins to make progress in her search, a tragedy strains the town’s racial tensions and sends Ruth and Midnight on a collision course with each other that will change their lives forever.

The Kindest Lie

Wild Women and the Blues

If you loved the Netflix movie Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, all about Chicago and the blues in the 1920s, then you’ll love this book.

This dual timeline novel switches between 1925, when Chicago is the jazz capital of the world and Honoree Dalcour is singing her way to the top, and 2015, when a young film student, Sawyer, searching for truth visits 110-year-old Honoree for answers. As the past and secrets are revealed, Sawyer learns of the hot jazz and illicit passion of Honoree’s past, giving her the chance to tell her side of the story before it’s too late.

Wild Women and the Blues

The Vanishing Half

In this book, the question of what makes us who we are is examined as twin black sisters grow up to lead very different lives.

One sister lives with her black daughter in the poor Southern town where she was raised. The other secretly passes as white, marrying a white man who knows nothing of her past.

Told over forty years as the sisters’ lives intersect once again in the lives of their children, the novel explores race, decisions, desires, and the reasons why someone might chose to live a life outside their origins.

The Vanishing Half

Americanah

I reviewed Americanah a little while back (here) and, if you are looking for a unique book that will open your eyes to racism in America, this is a good pick.

The novel follows a Nigerian immigrant, Ifemelu, who travels to America for college and experiences what it truly means to be black for the first time. The novel explores the questions of race, the need for identity, and the longing for home.

It’s a book that will make you more empathetic, not only to problems of racism in America, but also to the struggles and challenges of immigrants. You can read more about my thoughts in my full blog post, but it’s one your book club should add to its list if you haven’t.

Americanah

The Water Dancer

For book clubs looking for a novel on the underground railroad, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer is a perfect choice. Although you might have read other books about the underground railroad, Coates’ novel takes on the subject in new light, sprinkling in some magical realism and one man’s search to find answers about his mother, sold into slavery before he could know her.

It’s slated to be a major motion picture backed by Oprah’s Harpo Films soon.

The Water Dancer

The Nickel Boys

For a novel outside of the slavery era that will illuminate the horrors of racism, The Nickel Boys is the perfect choice.

In this novel, Colson Whitehead dramatizes two boys’ horrific experiences in a Jim Crow-era juvenile reformatory. The novel, based on a real reform school that operated for 111 years in the South, uses the microcosm of the school to illuminate the wider issue of racism and abuse. Told through the eyes of two boys, one idealistic and one cynical, the novel examines the problems of race from both view points.

And, in case you haven’t heard, it’s the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Nickel Boys

The Good Lord Bird

A tale of adventure, this novel will take you alongside a young boy slave, mistaken as a girl, as he is swept up by abolitionist John Brown, who believes “her” to be his good luck charm. As the boy conceals his identity to stay alive, he’s catapulted through historical events, eventually finding himself at the raid on Harpers Ferry, the great catalyst for the Civil War.

Made into a limited series by Showtime and winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, your book club will love this one.

The Good Lord Bird

An American Marriage

This novel is a complex story about the New South and a marriage tested when the husband, Roy, is arrested for a crime his wife, Celestial, is sure he didn’t commit. When Roy’s sentenced to 12 years in prison, Celestial finds herself taking dangerous comfort in her childhood friend, Andre, in Roy’s absence.

After serving five years, Roy is released, eager to begin again, but comes home to a life he can’t recognize anymore.

A story that explores the choices people make when separated by forces beyond their control, An American Marriage illuminates what it takes to make peace with the past and move forward with pain and hope towards the future.

An American Marriage

Sing, Unburied, Sing

If you love Southern Gothic novels and the works of Toni Morrison, you should read Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. The novel, set in rural Mississippi, explores one family’s struggle with drug abuse and racial tensions.

Jojo, a thirteen-year-old boy, is grappling with what it means to be a man in the presence of his addict black mother and the absence of his convict white father.

When his father is released from prison, his mother takes him on a trip across the state to the penitentiary, where another thirteen-year-old boy is waiting for him–the ghost of a dead inmate, who will teach Jojo the ugly history of the South and about fathers, sons, violence, and love.

The winner of the National Book Award, your book club will find much to discuss in this magical realism depiction of the shadows of slavery that still lurk in the South.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

And that wraps up the list of 10 Black Lives Matter Novels Your Book Club Should Read. I hope that you enjoyed reading all of the options available and that you’ll pick a few to read this year!

This is by no means an exhaustive list and I’d love to know what other Black Lives Matter and Black History Month novels your book club has read and loved!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

Mallory
 

I’m Mallory Barnes, a fiction writer living in West Texas. My hope here is to encourage reading and discussion. In the digital age, we often live together so separately. Community and intellectual discussion are harder and harder to come by. I hope that Book Club Bites can help alleviate that by encouraging the birth and growth of book clubs.

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