Happy Hump Day, Savvy Readers! February is Black History Month and that means it’s the perfect time to share some of our favourite books honouring the cultural legacy of Black Canadians (and Americans) and their incredible contributions throughout history! Fortunately, I’ve put together the perfect Black History Month reading list for you to celebrate with, and these books are sure to rock your world. So without further ado…
Africville by Jeffrey Colvin
For readers of Lawrence Hill (more on him later!) and George Elliott Clarke, Jeffrey Colvin makes his stunning debut with this richly woven tapestry. Set in the small Nova Scotia town of Africville, settled by former slaves, Africville follows several generations of one family bound together and torn apart by blood, faith, time and fate.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London—a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad and The Paying Guest
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
Set in Brooklyn in 1998, this striking novel from the incredible author of Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he’s still alive. Exceptional in its storytelling and, as we’ve come to expect from Tiffany D. Jackson, fresh in its dialogue, Let Me Hear a Rhyme is one of two books about hip-hop we have on this list (the second one is coming up shortly!) that we are so, so excited for you to read.
Stop us if you’ve heard us say this before, but Esi Edugyan is a phenomenal writer. If you need more convincing, consider the fact that these two books each won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and Washington Black was nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Convinced? That’s what I thought. Whether she’s writing about the jazz age or from the perspective of a slave fighting for his life after fleeing a plantation, Esi Edugyan is always at her best. Read. Her. Books. Now! You’ll thank us later.
Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi
Whether you’re a fan of YA literature or not, Black Enough is an incredible anthology that brings together some of the most acclaimed Black authors writing for teens today. Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, Black Enough is an essential collection of stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. From sisters navigating their relationship at a summer camp in Portland, Oregon, to three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing, and everything, this collection illustrates Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Another entry from Ibi Zoboi because she’s just that talented! This time around, Ibi puts on her writers hat and gives Pride and Prejudice a remix in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, skillfully balancing cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in the vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.
The Hate U Give is another one of those books that we just won’t stop talking about, and for good reason. Since its initial release in 2017, The Hate U Give has grown to modern classic levels, becoming a staple on bestsellers lists, awards lists, and book club lists. We cannot overstate just how good of a novel it is. Luckily for us, Angie Thomas followed it up with On the Come Up, another truly remarkable and insightful book that acts as an ode to hip hop and a commentary of political activism in the 21st century.
I genuinely think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t at least heard of The Book of Negroes, and rightfully so. This epic of a novel is one of the bestselling Canadian books ever, and has been turned into a CBC mini-series and gone on to win awards and garner critical praise. Yes, it’s that good. Following up on that success, Lawrence Hill also brought us The Illegal, another bestselling, award-winning novel that also won Canada Reads!
Well, that’s all I have for you today Savvy Readers! Tell me, which of these books are you planning to add to your Black History Month reading list, and what other diverse books do you recommend?! Comment below or tweet us @SavvyReader!