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11 Books To Buy To Help #Blackout(the)BestsellerList

As protests about police brutality and racism have broken out across the country and industries are reckoning with their relationship with the Black community as both consumers and employers, Black writers are speaking out and asking: could the New York Times’ Best Seller list ever be entirely made up of Black authors? Amistad Publishing, an imprint of HarperCollins, is trying to make this a reality on all bestseller lists. 

Using the hashtag #BlackoutBestsellerList, they’re aiming to get Black authors to the top of bestseller lists by encouraging readers to purchase two books by June 20. 

Prominent Black authors such as Angie Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Roxane Gay posted in support of this campaign.

“Buying books by black authors does matter in encouraging publishers to publish more books by black authors,” Gay explained on her Twitter page.

The #BlackoutBestsellerList challenge comes after last week’s New York Times Best Seller list was almost exclusively filled with books about race. The campaign aims to bring more Black voices into writing and publishing, which have traditionally been overwhelmingly white. 

Here are some of our favorite books by Black authors. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2020, The Vanishing Half does not disappoint. Identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella are extremely close. After trying to run away from their small Black community, their lives become incredibly different. Years later, Desiree’s daughter learns the truth about the aunt she never knew, who has raised her cousin believing she is white. 

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism is a series of essays that tackle the lack of intersectional feminism, questioning why the movement does not discuss issues of food insecurity, proper education, safe neighborhoods, and issues of race. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

2018’s bestselling book Becoming gives a look at the former First Lady’s life unlike any other before. Discussing her childhood in the South Side of Chicago to her law career as she balanced being a mother of two to her time as the first Black First Lady, Michelle’s story is relatable and moving. 

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This witty and pulpy novel will leave you wanting more. My Sister, The Serial Killer explains its plot in its title as Korede’s sister, Ayoola, continually kills her boyfriends, leaving her sister to clean up the mess she has made. However, when the doctor Korede has been crushing on asks for Ayoola’s number, Korede must come to terms with her sister’s actions and what she will do to protect her. 

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison 

Morrison’s Song of Solomon is a fully realized look into a Black family and its heritage, looking back at four generations in this lyrical tribute. Milkman, the central character, is inspired by his great-grandfather, Solomon, who escaped slavery. As Morrison follows Milkman from his hometown to his family’s place of origin, she opens up a whole world of depth and history. 

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

One of Smith’s greatest works, On Beauty is a hilarious novel that tells the story of an interracial family living in a college town in Massachusetts. On Beauty gives a great depiction of what it means to be a mixed family and its relationship to the personal and the political. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah follows two Nigerians as they leave home for the United Kingdom and the United States. This book gives stunning work that describes what it means to be Black in a white society. A story of race, belonging, and immigration, but also one of the search for one’s identity and a new home. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

16-year-old Starr is caught between two worlds in The Hate U Give, stuck between the Black community she has always lived in and the white world of her prep school. When her best friend Khalil is murdered at the hands of the police, she is forced to choose.

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Emira doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, but enjoys her nannying job for the wealthy Chamberlain family. When she is questioned about why she, a Black woman, is out with a white child at night, Emira’s life takes unknown turns. Such A Fun Age is a page-turner who wants a good story that will make them think. 

Slay by Brittney Morris

A young adult novel that will captivate anyone of any age, Slay tells the story of Kiera Johnson, a high school honors student who developed a popular but secret Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game that provides a space for Black gamers. When a player is killed over the game she built, Kiera is forced to fight for the safe haven she has created.

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) Tomi Adeyemi

The first of a series, Children of Blood and Bone is based on Adeyemi’s West African heritage as she blends traditional religious deities with a diverse fantasy world. Following both the children of the king and two siblings who have suffered under his regime, this story gives a fantasy look based around political and social issues of injustice, police brutality, and a struggle for change. 

Pick two books and add them to your cart, because it’s time for a #BlackoutBestsellerList!

Elizabeth Karpen

Columbia Barnard '22

Lizzie Karpen is 2022 graduate of Barnard College, the most fuego of women’s colleges, who studied Political Science and English with a concentrations in Film and American Literature. To argue with her very unpopular opinions, send her a message at @lizziekarpen on Instagram and Twitter. To read her other work, check out Elizabethkarpen.com.