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7 Must-Read Books by Women of Color

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

This Women’s History Month, we honor the voices of women of color, voices too often marginalized or silenced, voices who empower us through their writing.

From the witty writing of “Bad Feminist” to the beautiful prose in “The Bluest Eye,” checking off your reading list with these books is the perfect way to celebrate inclusivity this Women’s History Month:

1. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

It’s only fitting to start this list with a book about feminism. I first read an excerpt from Bad Feminist for my feminist theory class I took last semester. Through her honest collection of intimate and witty essays focused on pop culture and personal experiences, Gay reveals that it doesn’t take a white, wealthy college-educated person to understand feminism. Bad Feminist is definitely relatable and reassuring to us feminists who may be contradictory and imperfect.

2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Set in 1950s-70s suburban America, this novel focuses on an interracial family and how they deal with the death of their oldest daughter, Lydia (this isn’t a spoiler btw because the first line of the book is “Lydia is dead”). Although the novel presents itself as a mystery story, beneath is a rather complex examination of a POC family’s dynamics and experiences of racism across generations. On top of that, Ng’s seamless writing pulls readers into the tension and drama behind each heart-wrenching chapter.

3. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

This fiction novel, which won the National Book Award, is based on the real-life event of Hurricane Katrina. Ward introduces us to the harsh realities of an impoverished family living in Mississippi and their life leading up to a devastating storm. With its use of vivid imagery and metaphors, this intense book keeps readers engaged.

4. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Lee takes readers on an adventure in this ambitious, masterfully written historical fiction. Pachinko is about the drama and struggles that a multigenerational Korean family faces while living in Japan. The New York Times writes, “Each time the novel seems to find its locus – Japan’s colonization of Korea, World War II as experienced in East Asia, Christianity, family, love, the changing role of women – it becomes something else. It becomes even more than it was.”

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this timely coming-of-age story is about 16-year-old Starr, a young black girl, who witnesses the wrongful murder of her best friend by a police officer. Throughout the novel, we see the importance of voice in the face of injustice and conversations about racism. This New York Times Bestseller is a must-read.

6. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Henriquez paints a mosaic of stories of various Latin American immigrants. Within each story, we see each character’s unique version of the American dream come to life. Although the characters are from a culture different from my own, I find myself relating to their narratives as they are reminiscent of my parents and friends, which speak volumes of the sacrifices they make to come to this country.

7. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

If you like reading novels written in beautiful prose that also call you to think seriously about yourself and our world, I highly recommend this book. The Bluest Eye provides a fresh look into the cycle of repression that many African Americans face due to the colonization of white masculine culture. In an interview, Morrison reminds readers “how hurtful racism is” and that people are “apologetic about the fact that their skin [is] so dark.” This moving story of a young black girl and her genuine seeking of acceptance in society will challenge your ideas about stereotypes, hierarchies and culture.

After reading one, two, or maybe even all of these books, continue the conversation about these important women of color writers, and share their stories! For this Women’s History Month and beyond, let’s celebrate women writers’ contributions with the world.