Things have been rough lately. 2020 has brought a lot of violence, fighting, and division, and though I like to stay positive here on the ole blog, I want to say that it’s hard not to be impacted by all the sadness in the world. It’s not just a recent development either; the world is continuously being plagued by terrible situations. My wish for everyone is that we all see each other as human beings and treat each other with the love and respect that all human beings deserve.
In light of recent events, I thought it would be helpful to list some great books by POC authors. Some of these are books that I’ve read and loved, and some are recommendations from friends that are now on my to-read list. Hopefully, this list will help us dive back into reading for enjoyment and connect with each other again. Enjoy!
The Galleons: Poems by Rick Barot
An exploration of rediscovery, Barot’s newest poetry collection centers around his Filipino-American family on their journey to post-colonialism America. Barot utilizes the lyricism in his poetry to expand his focus to the wider world in the context of immigration, uncovering the everyday truths that have been passed over.
Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee
The first installment of the Sidekick Squad series, this book is a great addition to your superhero fiction library. Despite being born with no superpowers in a family of heroes, Jess refuses to be anyone’s sidekick, deciding instead to accept an internship from the city’s supervillain. But when Jess and her fellow intern, M, discover a plot that blurs the lines between hero and villain, her situation becomes even more complicated. There are many fresh perspectives in this story, including prominent LGBT representation and a fair bit of romance.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A blend of historical fiction and magical realism, Coates’s newest novel follows Hiram Walker, who was born into slavery. But when his mother is sold away and he mysteriously loses all his memories of her, a strange life-saving power is awakened in him, urging him on to join the fight against slavers and find his family again.
Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson
For lovers of poetry and superhero fans alike, Jackson reimagines the worlds of popular superheroes in the wider context of race and the personal context of grief. A quick read of only 85 pages, the mixture of poetry and superhuman society provides an interesting perspective of the wider world.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Introspective and hopeful, Ozeki tells the story of two women separated by distance and time yet somehow able to interact with each other’s lives on a personal level. Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island, finds a diary washed ashore on the beach: that of sixteen-year-old Nao, who documents her final days alongside the tale of her great-grandmother’s life of a Buddhist nun. As the secrets of the past slowly become apparent to Ruth, the stories of the past, present, and future begin to intertwine.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
In this four-volume set of autobiographical graphic novels, Satrapi tells the story of her life, from her time growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution, to her teenage years in Vienna, to exiling herself from her home. A bittersweet coming-of-age tale that encapsulates what it means to face the highs and lows of life, this graphic memoir comes in an easily readable comic form.
Jackpot by Nic Stone
Overworked high school student Rico catches a big break when she sells a winning lottery ticket at the Gas ’n’ Go, if she can find the ticket holder who has left the prize unclaimed. With the help of her rich classmate Zan, she begins the search, but the differences between the two of them threaten to undermine their mission. Stone writes two very different characters who clash in interesting ways that highlight issues of class, monetary differences, and how to make one’s own luck.
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
In this YA romance, Jack and Katie meet at a party and immediately hit it off. Jack thinks he’s falling in love…until their short-lived romance ends with Katie’s untimely death. But instead of continuing without her, Jack finds himself back at the moment they first met. Now given the opportunity to prevent Katie’s death, Jack discovers that a choice always has consequences, and there are many tough choices to make before he can save the people he loves. Mixing romance and time travel in this contemporary romance makes for a fun and heartfelt reading experience.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
In an alternate version of Portland, Oregon where sirens are forced to silence their own voices, Tavia struggles to keep her identity as a siren secret as she and her best friend Effie navigate high school drama. But when a popular fashion idol reveals herself to be a siren, tensions rise, leading Tavia and Effie to even more dangerous territory. When the past catches up and magic is revealed, their safety is put in jeopardy, and so are their secrets. This YA fantasy explores real-world issues, weaving the familiar with the magical.
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Adjei-Brenyah excels in creating engaging situations by placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations. This collection of short stories present haunting tales of racial injustice using the science fiction genre, bringing strong feelings to the surface while exploring strange and grim situations.
The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole
As Trinity maintains a quiet life, the last thing she expects is for that life to be upended by her new (and very attractive) neighbor, Li Wei. Only when she starts spending time with him does she realize his odd behavior is due to him being an A.I. Trinity decides to help him become more human, but neither of them expects the dangers of Li Wei developing the very human ability to fall in love. A quick read, this romance/science fiction mix explores what it means to be human.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
On a quest to discover and take control of her identity, Janie Crawford strives to be her own person as a black woman in the 1930s. Through many struggles and three marriages, Janie continues to dive closer to her roots in this historical fiction classic.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Eighteen years after escaping slavery, Sethe still cannot escape the hauntings of her past. Her home is in the forefront of her mind, sweet and bitter memories stuck together as Sethe struggles to move on despite the presence of her nameless baby’s troublesome ghost. Keeping destructive secrets becomes impossible when a mysterious girl appears in town, sending Sethe’s life spiraling out of control and forcing her to confront the ghosts of her past.
So Much Blue by Percival Everett
The past and the present intersect in the life of Kevin Pace as he struggles with finishing a painting that he won’t let anyone see. Ashamed of the affair he had ten years ago and unable to let it go, Kevin confronts himself with the sacrifices he has made in the name of his art. Is it possible to let the past go when it so clearly affects the present?
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
A story of identity and self-exploration, this tale follows Henry, a young slave in 1857, who is forced to flee town with abolitionist John Brown. To stay alive, Henry lets Brown think that he is a girl, but secrets become the least of their worries when they are both present as the country launches into civil war. McBride’s historical fiction is both adventurous and imaginative.