WE ARE WRITERS. Which means we are readers. We read, in part, to understand the lives of others—both the lives of fictional folks and those of our flesh-and-blood kin, past and present. As POETS & WRITERS so eloquently put it: [W]riters … help us understand ourselves and our times, deepen our capacity for empathy, and imagine a better future.
The current uprisings in our country have pointed out to me that I have not grasped the realities Black people in our communities live with every day. If this is true of you, too, know that there are many ways to address the gaps in our awareness and to support our fellow Americans. But for the purposes of this forum, I’m focusing on what you and I share: We read. And our reading can both deepen our understanding of the lives of Black citizens and support the livelihood of Black writers.
READ BOOKS BY BLACK AUTHORS
Want to start with the classics? PBS‘s Black Culture Connection lists 10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read, which comprises “prominent Black authors who have left a mark on the literary world forever,” starting with Maya Angelou and ending (alphabetically!) with Richard Wright.
If you’re familiar with the authors on the PBS list and want to read some contemporary Black authors, here are two more resources for you to peruse.
Penguin Random House lists 25 Books by Contemporary Black Authors: Their list includes “… some of the best fiction and nonfiction by contemporary black authors, including books in every genre from literary fiction to personal memoirs.”
HUFFPOST has compiled an even more extensive list: 50 Amazing Books by Black Authors from the Past 5 Years: “From Roxane Gay to Michelle Obama to Ta-Nehisi Coates, these writers are making an impact.”
READ BLACK POETS AND ESSAYISTS
For the rest of the summer, the Academy of American Poets will be dedicating their Poem-a-Day to Black poets and engaging a number of Black curators for that project. They will also create a new series for Poets.org that features essays by poets of color. They are also in the process of adding biographies of Black, Indigenous, and all poets of color who have contributed to shaping American poetry to Poets.org.
BUY BOOKS FROM BLACK-OWNED BOOKSTORES
AfroTech has made purchasing books from Black-owned bookstores as easy as ordering from Amazon. Check out 10 Black-Owned Bookstores to Support While at Home.
Literary Hub shares their list of 60 more Black-owned bookstores, all of which are taking phone orders today! You can browse their virtual shelves, then purchase a big stack of new understanding—and great reading—while having a real, voice-to-voice conversation with another human!
Read on, dear writers. Read on.