Help Me Find New Authors

On the one hand, I need new book recommendations like a hole in the head (currently trying to pare my to-read list down to a manageable size, and weeping.) On the other hand, there’s something I’m slack on. Something I’ve really been meaning to address. I need to read more African American authors.

Being a big reader who has the benefit of a solid liberal arts education and a number of library jobs behind her, my bookshelf is probably more diverse than a lot of other readers’. But the isn’t saying much. I haven’t run the numbers or anything like that, but I definitely read mostly white women authors, followed by white men. Next is probably black women and then other writers of color, though I can’t be sure. And that needs to change.

When it comes to my writing, because I am vey much still learning and crafting my own voice, I try to write from a different perspective in every story. Male, female, POC, queer, physically handicapped, etc. Maybe it’s not ideal. Maybe I get things wrong. (Maybe I get things spectacularly wrong.) But writing fiction is the way I process and understand the world, and there’s a lot of different people out there, so I have to make a concious effort to try. (Otherwise I’d end up with a ton of stories about a white, twenty-something female with a middle class background and social anxiety, and who wants to read about that?) So, if I make a concious effort to make my writing diverse, I have to also make a concious effort to make my reading diverse. I’m not going to like every author or every book. But I need more experience and knowledge of a variety of authors. And that is where you come in.

Who are your favorite black authors?  I’ve read and enjoyed novels by Tayari Jones and N.K. Jemisin. I’ve read and been disappointed by Octavia Butler and Beverly Jenkins. I’ve read the usual books you get assigned in school, like Invisible Man and There Eyes Were Watching God and Beloved, though I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed along the way. What are some books I have to try? I’m interested in any genre, though I pretty much know already I’m not going to be into “church books,” anything strongly contingent on Christianity, and on the other side I’m not going to be interested in heavily urban books (at the library, we get a lot of books about “thugz” and “playaz” that seem really stereotypical and offensive to me, but what do I know?). Who am I missing out on?

Recommend me things in the comments, and I will add them to my absurdly long list!

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4 Comments

Filed under Book Talk, Reading Challenge

4 responses to “Help Me Find New Authors

  1. Sam

    Have you read any other books by Toni Morrison? Song of Solomon is my favorite. Tar Baby is also excellent.

    Have you read Oxherding Tale by Charles Johnson? It’s an excellent book. I’m sad that I can’t think of more authors to suggest. -Sam

    • hlmorris85

      I’ve read Beloved but that’s it, Morrison is definitely someone I need to check out more of. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. This is most definitely an area where I could do so much better myself. I enjoyed Edward P. Jones’s short story collection Lost in the City, and his novel The Known World is supposed to be terrific. I read Victor LaValle’s Big Machine a few months ago and it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. Attica Locke writes mysteries and I have both her books on my wishlist. Another one I have on hold at the library is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Jamaica Kincaid is also a terrific author. Anyway, those are some from my own list–what I can remember off the top of my head, anyway!

    • hlmorris85

      I’d forgotten about The Known World…that was a really interesting novel. I’ll have to look up Jones’s story collection. I’ve been a bit shy of Americanah because it’s such a buzworthy book right now and I tend to have bad reactions to those. Thanks for your suggestions!

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