Black AF Summer Reading List

bell hooks, Octavia Butler, and Angela Davis are among the greats sitting on my bookshelf, aching to be read. The thing is, no book needs amplification like newly released Black books. Last May’s Book of the Month, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South gave historian and writer Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers modest traction. Each month, dozens of outstanding Black reads hits book stores, Amazon, and Kindle, but, nobody knows. This is why I spend hours searching for new releases so I can recommend (the good ones), promote, and create traction. Bottom line, I’mma try to slip in some Zora Neale Hurston and June Jordan books when I can, but my main priority this summer is new releases. There are a lot of sizzlers due in the summer months and I want to read erry one of ’em.

July’s book of the month is Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown. I chose Pleasure Activism because it’s powerful. Brown’s intense examination of pleasure and erotica is a spiritual prompt and emotional revelation, taking up a whole ‘nother level of space. Adrienne Maree Brown is a Black woman who’s writing is geared to and celebrates Black bodies. However, the contents in Pleasure Activism often address bodies and space in a human, universal manner. Through chapters and sub-sections, Pleasure Activism digs deep into how bodies identify pleasure, how erotica and activism are surprisingly related, and what pleasure and erotica mean to bodies that are restricted, policed, disabled, and/or otherwise marginalized. Because it’s in essay form, it’s possible to read Pleasure Activism in random order, flipping through pieces that speak to the reader most (I read the entire book, but I have one friend who only read ‘Section Three: A Circle of Sex’, and my mom was most interested in ‘Section Five, Sub-Section: The Politics of Wholeness in Movements’).

For August, I chose Tea Mutonji’s Shut Up, You’re Pretty. This is the first time I chose a fiction as Book of the Month and with good reason. Mutonji blends a collection of short stories to tell the tale of Loli, an African immigrant coming up in Canada, discovering love, pain, and loss through relationships with everyone but herself. For readers who are anticipating a busy summer, Shut Up, You’re Pretty may be the ideal read; eighteen short stories fill the book, which is only 132 pages. It’s lighter in pages, but jam-packed with emotion, awesome storytelling, and intense drama. Mutonji’s writing puts her in an impressive league of contemporary Black writers outside the US. If you liked the writing in My Sister, the Serial Killer, you’ll fall in love with Shut Up, You’re Pretty.

For September I chose Elaine Welteroth’s More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say). I’m a huuuge fan of Welteroth, both onscreen as a judge on Project Runway, and her behind-the-scenes work as an editor at Teen Vogue. Welteroth, daughter of a Black mother and a white father, fills More Than Enough with stories of her childhood and mistakes she made while working her way up to top billing at Teen Vogue. For Black women and women of color, her experiences of being othered and marginalized both in the workplace and school are not only relatable but cathartic. For up-and-coming businesswomen, many of Welteroth’s strategies for success will prove to be resourceful. And, for readers looking for something good to get lost in during the hot months, Welteroth’s stories of failed romances, personal victories, and self-exploration will get you hooked. A read!

Without further adieu, here’s my Summer 2019 Reading List!


BOOK OF THE MONTH — Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling good written and gathered by adrienne maree brown

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young, 2019 (non-fiction; memoir)

Side Chick Nation (Justice Hustlers) by Aya de Leon, 2019 (fiction; street lit)

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker, 2019 (poetry)

The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation by Jodie Patterson, 2019 (non-fiction; motherhood, LGBTQ+ biographies)

Rebel: Women Who Dare by Beverly Jenkins, 2019 (fiction; historical romance)

South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration by Marcia Chatelain, 2015 (The Great Migration, Black history)

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cotton, 2018 (non-fiction; essays, Black feminist lit)

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, 1993 (fiction; sci-fi)


BOOK OF THE MONTH — Shut Up, You’re Pretty by Tea Mutonji

Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon, 2019 (fiction; novel)

The Real Dopeboyz of Dade County by Lucinda John, 2019 (fiction; street lit)

The Right Swipe: A Novel by Alisha Rai, 2019 (fiction; novel, romance)

Beyonce in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism by Umise’eke Natasha Tinsley, 2019 (Beyology, Black feminist lit)

Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okoafor, 2019 (fiction; fantasy)

If it Makes You Happy by Claire Kann, 2019 (fiction; Young Adult)

Standing Our Ground: The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother’s Story by Lucia Kay McBath, Rosemarie Robotham, 2018, (non-fiction; memoir)


BOOK OF THE MONTH — More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

Let’s Tell This Story Properly by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, 2019 (fiction; short stories)

Shades: Detroit Love Stories by Esperanza M. Cintrón, 2019 (fiction; stories)

Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life by Kim McLarin, 2019 (fiction; memoir)

Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America DorothyButler Gilliam, 2019 (non-fiction; memoir, Black feminist lit)

My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir by Jessica B. Harris, 2018 (memoir)

How Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories by N. K. Jemisin, 2018 (fiction; sci-fi stories)

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene A. Carruthers, 2018 (Black Feminist Literature)

Reading the book is just half the battle. In order for Black books to get the shine they deserve it’s going to take a lot of promotion, buzz, and sales! For those who really want to see Black writers win, here’s a list of quick and easy ways to promote the Black writers and books listed above:

1. Subscribe to my Patreon page where you’ll have access to weekly book reviews, a monthly list of new releases, and exclusive articles and essays written by me!

2. Buy, gift, rent at least one book on the list! Read the book, tweet about the book, post in on your IG, tag the writer!

3. Share the Black AF Summer Reading List!

4. Challenge a friend to read one of the books on the list!

5. Suggest one of the books to be featured in a book club!

6. Seriously… join my Patreon community! If you already have, consider upgrading xoxo

And, if you’d like to help support my literary addiction feel free to gift a book from any of my book wish lists:

Mahogany Books Wish List

Barnes & Nobles Book Wish List

Amazon Books Wish List

Facebook: Tamela J. Gordon

Twitter : @shewritestolive

Instagram: @shewritestolive

Writer. Feminist. Advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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