Reading is a great way to relax and distract your mind from the everyday travails of regular life. And whether you choose to do so on your phone, e-reader, iPad, listening to the audio version during a long walk or while working out or the good old-fashioned way, the ability to find a good book is as easy as pie. The ability to find a great read written by a brilliant Black woman is however an occasion to be savored and slowly enjoyed.
What is most encouraging about the options available today are the number of diverse voices available, which only means there is a greater opportunity to uncover more experiences. This spring Month, BET.com offers some of the best books to download, borrow, or buy all written by Black women but not with the “for us by us” mentality. Instead, these options invite everyone to the party. Enjoy!
RELATED: 5 Best Books of 2021
The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks
On Dec. 15, 2021, the world lost Gloria Jean Watkins, aka bell hooks. Fortunately, the author, feminist, and activist lives on through her groundbreaking work. Among her 40 books is The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love. While this book addresses how men can better express themselves emotionally, explains toxic masculinity, and the reason why some men fear intimacy, it also is a good read for anyone trying to better understand the role of patriarchy and some of the inner workings of men. In other words, it’s an excellent book for anyone.
Hunger by Roxane Gay
If you ever get a chance, check out Roxane’s Gay Master Class on how to write. Even if you don’t ever plan on putting pen to paper, you will be engrossed. The New York Times best-selling author and professor is a master of turning a phrase in any of her books or articles.
Her stories are often searingly honest such as her memoir Hunger. There are moments you will want to cry as Gay intimately and honestly reveals details of when she was raped, her issues with overeating, and her struggles with how she’s perceived publicly and privately. And while her account is a matter of fact, you never feel for one moment that she is holding anything back. The book moves fast, yet you get a long enough look to recognize her courage and that she will always remain unabashedly herself.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
If you have seen the movie, Hidden Figures, you may think that you know the entire story, but not true. The film may be adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly's novel by the same name, but it doesn't contain all the details of the book. While the movie is emotionally gripping and inspiring, it condensed a truly groundbreaking experience.
The story, as written in the book, takes place over a longer period of time. It delves deeper into issues of racism and how three Black female mathematicians were made to feel like outsiders even as their work helped America achieve some of its most significant achievements in space.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
We don’t always get the opportunity to fully understand the journey of America’s first ladies, but Michelle Obama pulled back the veil on her life in her inspiring memoir Becoming. Released in 2018, in this intimate storytelling, Mrs. Obama offers details of her childhood while growing up in the South Side of Chicago, her college years, meeting her husband, the former president, and her road to the White House. Though the book is carefully crafted, there are some disarmingly laugh-out-loud moments that remind us why she is often referred to as our forever first lady.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Dr. Maya Angelou made an indelible mark on the world. Here quotes are tagged on social media sites, and we all nod in agreement as to their level of accuracy. She once famously said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them” and that in fact rings true for so many of us. Her first memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, is raw and honest in ways that bring you full front and center with abuse and bigotry. Dr. Angelou’s work is so poetic no matter the topic; you feel empowered by her experiences, and if you share those experiences, her resolve helps to tamper down your fears. This book is a true American classic as is Dr. Angelou.
Be Unapologetically You by Adeline Bird
It can seem trite to say that it is essential to love yourself. But let’s face it, how can you truly take care of yourself, take care of others, or establish boundaries if you are love deficient?
Adeline Bird’s Be Unapologetically You will help you understand that part of love is accepting who you are and finding a way to be present in the world. It is also about sidestepping negativity, embracing healing, and understanding that our comfort zone can sometimes stall us from being all that we are meant to be.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison was published in 1970 but is set in the 1940s and if we’re telling the truth, could really be about any time period. The story is of Pecola Breedlove, an 11-year-old Black girl who prays for her eyes to be blue because she believes it’s the missing ingredient to make her beautiful. For Pecola, it’s not just about looking different; it’s that the world might actually see her differently, and that is the heart of the story.
The standards of beauty then and even now still centers on European features, a goal that Pecola cannot reach. Ultimately there are devastating consequences for the character. This book is a lesson in learning to value or lose oneself.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
If you’ve ever referenced “You told Harpo to beat me,” or “"Until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble,” most of us would know exactly what movie you're talking about and think back to how Oprah and Whoopi stole our hearts. The good news is that the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker, from which it is adapted, though a little different, stays true to central themes of finding your voice and overcoming adversity. While the emotional and other abuses are apparent, what truly stands out is the strength in the vulnerability of the female characters. You will shrink as they do with fear and rejoice as they find their voices.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
While Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston isn't a book of poetry, it is certainly poetic in nature. Throughout the pages, you will read beautifully crafted lines like, "Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place." The change in tones and dialect of the characters informs Janie's struggles to gain her independence but the overarching theme is that in life there is so much that is out of our control.
Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany Aliche
We know that this year was the year you vowed to get your finances together. But here it is March 2022, and you still haven't opened that emergency savings account you promised yourself you would. In fact, you haven't even started contributing to your 401k. Well, with inflation being what it is and interest rates going up, you may want to lean into socking away those extra bucks for a rainy day.
Still, we know that conversations about finance aren't easy, and some books about the topic are too jargony or pushing another agenda. Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany Aliche contains quick and understandable tips that you can immediately start incorporating into your life. And no matter where you are in your financial journey, the book's assessment tool can help you get to where you want to be.