Summer is upon us, so I have 18 summer fiction books by black authors to share with you today! Whether you’re planning a road trip to the beach or you just want to enjoy a good book with a crisp glass of rosé on a hot summer evening, you’re in the right place to load up your bookshelf with all sorts of good reads.
In light of the George Floyd protests, I’ve had my eyes opened in more ways than I can count. Like lots of you, I’m finding that I have a lifetime of learning and listening ahead of me; I have so many white-central tendencies that are deeply engrained in me. For instance: one of the things that I’ve noticed is that I read a lot of fiction by white authors, but not a lot by black authors. This isn’t on purpose….these are just the books that my eyes see on the bestseller lists and Amazon pushes toward me on the “picked for you” page. Of course, this is the problem: my country just naturally highlights white authors over black authors. Until this is fixed, I must make a conscious effort to seek out more incredible black voices and the stories they’ve crafted.
I’ve noticed that lots of the book lists going around instagram right right now are educational, non-fiction, memoir-type books by black authors. These are wonderful, and I’ve purchased a lot of them! My hope is that we all understand why it’s important to read those books. And because so many great nonfiction lists already exist, I want to use my blog list to shine a light on a little corner where I haven’t been paying much attention to diversity: fiction books for your summer reading list! Why are soooo many of the books that I load onto my kindle for summer reading written by white authors and focused on white protagonists? Can I take steps to change that? Here are a bunch of summer fiction books by black authors.
18 Summer Fiction Books By Black Authors
Some of these are lighthearted chick lit, some of them deal with serious issues. Hope you find something in here that appeals to you! Why am I calling it “summer fiction?” Because I’m publishing this in the summer! You could (obviously) read these at any time of the year. Also, I’m linking them all to the kindle store in case you read your books digitally. If you’d like to support a black-owned bookstore, that’s great! Here’s a great list of them around the country so you can find one near you!
1. The Mothers by Brit Bennett. (Both this book and Brit Bennet’s newest 2020 novel, The Vanishing Act, are on my list to read this summer!) |KINDLE|
2. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. (Another one that’s queued up for me to read soon! This New York Times Bestselling debut from Kiley Reid is the story of a young black woman who is wrongly accused of kidnapping while babysitting a child, and the events that follow it.) |KINDLE|
3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyosi. (I shared this one in my Feb 2018 READS post, and here’s what I had to say: “This is one of the best books I’ve read in months! I LOVED it and flew threw it, and I’m currently recommending it to everyone I can. I didn’t mean to read it during Black History Month, but that coincidence made it even more meaninful of a book journey. The story follows two half-sisters who were born into different villages on the Gold Coast of Africa. One is married to an Englishman who oversees the British trade quarters in what later becomes Ghana, and the other is captured by the British and eventually shipped as a slave to America. Each chapter follows a new generation of each sister’s lineage, showing what eventually happens to each family based on where they started throughout about 250 years of history. It was sobering and enlightening. I honestly think that everyone needs to read this book. Oh, and something I didn’t realize while I was reading it was that this author was 26 when she wrote this book!” |KINDLE|
4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. (This is a really popular one that has also been made into a movie…which I haven’t seen. But I read the book in 2018 per my sister Kylee’s suggestions. The story is about Starr, a black high school student, who witnesses the death of one of her best friends who is shot by a white police officer. Her life is quickly torn as she has to decides which of the two paths she’ll take: stay quiet and avoid the discomfort of publicity and potential violence on her family, or boldly speak in truth about what she witnessed, which is that her friend was wrongfully murdered?) |KINDLE|
5. It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan (This New York Times Bestseller was just released in March 2020, and I’m so excited to read it! From Google Books: After a sudden change of plans, a remarkable woman and her loyal group of friends try to figure out what she’s going to do with the rest of her life—from Terry McMillan, the bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale.) |KINDLE|
6. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Read this book! Incredibly moving and very hard to put down. It has been recognized as one of the best books of 2018 by all sorts of sources (Oprah, NPR, Time, Dallas Morning News). It tells the tale of newlyweds, and the man is arrested and sentenced for 12 years for a crime he didn’t commit.) |KINDLE|
7. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (First published in 1979, but still really popular! It’s on my list to read.) |KINDLE|
8. Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (From my June 2018 READS post: “Behold The Dreamers is a powerful story about a young family who moved to New York from Cameroon in search of the American dream. It’s a poignant, rich, terrifying tale that is so important for all of us to know in this era. As a white American citizen who was raised in a middle/upper-class family, this books tells a story that’s important for my ears to hear over and over again.”) |KINDLE|
9. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (Chick lit alert!! I read this is 2018, and here’s what I said: “This is, quite possibly, the most “chick-lit-y” book I’ve ever read! It’s basically a romance novel. Ha. There’s very little substance to this book except that it’s a sweet and sexy love story, and it’s a great book to toss in your beach tote and read while sipping a pina colada by the pool. Two people get stuck in an elevator: he’s a cute doctor who needs a date to a wedding he’s attending that weekend, and she’s a cute Mayor’s Chief of Staff who happens to be free. The wedding weekend ends up being way more fun that either anticipated, but they live in opposite ends of California and both have big, fulfilling careers. Oh, and he’s afraid of commitment.” It’s the first of a five-book series, too.) |KINDLE|
10. Loving Day by Mat Johnson (Currently reading this one, y’all! I’ll share my thoughts at the end of the month, but for now I can say that it’s equally funny and insightful for me. Thoroughly appreciating it! The narrator is a biracial man how is struggling with his own identity when he discovers he has a teenage he never knew about – and he must now introduce her to a heritage that she didn’t know she had.) |KINDLE|
11. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa (Throw this romantic comedy in your beach bag! Oprah called it one of the most anticipated romance novels of 2020. It’s loaded up on my kindle and I’m ready to dive into it this summer, hopefully while I have a fruity cocktail in hand!) |KINDLE|
12. I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan. (One more of Terry McMillan’s books, because she has decades of success in writing unputdownable novels. This one is about Georgia, an optometrist living in the Bay Area who has a well-regarded career, but is unhappy in the second half of her life. She’s tired of being alone, and when she finds out that one of her ex-lovers has died, she decides to reach out to other exes to see what became of them.) |KINDLE|
13. Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas (Chick lit alert! Bring this book to the pool! Venus Johnston has it all – gorgeous house, great job, loving boyfriend. But when Clint shows up with a dog instead of an engagement ring, she decides to give it all up to decide what she really wants from life. Read this if you’re looking for a big series – it has 9 books. Also, it’s been made into a romantic comedy movie, available on Netflix.) |KINDLE|
14. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Barack Obama put this one on his summer 2019 reading list! I haven’t read a good thriller in a while, so I’m excited to dive into this one.) |KINDLE|
15. Real Life by Brandon Taylor (I haven’t read this one yet, but I will soon! It’s a coming of age story about a black queer man who grew up in Alabama, and then ended up in a Midwestern university town. It was just released in February 2020 and was named one of the most anticipated books of the year by Entertainment Weekly!) |KINDLE|
16. Red At The Bone by Jaquieline Woodson (I know I keep saying this, but…I can’t wait to read this book!! It’s a New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning Jacqueline Woodson. It was released in fall 2019, and I missed it last year. I didn’t read many books right after Milo was born in October. Excited to dive into this one!) |KINDLE|
17. In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (This is Winslow’s debut novel, and it looks like a great one to add to your summer reader list! It’s a multi-decade tale set in rural North Carolina about family and love and friendship; it’s been recognized by Time magazine and USA Today and Los Angeles Times.) |KINDLE|
18. When You Were Everything by Ashely Woodfolk (Ah yes, and here’s an option for Young Adult Fiction in case you’re into that. Btw…there were so many YA options I almost added on this list, because I feel like those are often perfect for easy summer reading! This is a story of friendship, self-forgiveness, and new beginnings.) |KINDLE|