black history month

As I’m sure all of you know, February is Black History Month! As a diverse book blogger, it would be remiss of me to forget about it. So, here’s my list of what I’ve been reading throughout February. These are all books that have been strongly recommended to me, and I’m so glad that this month has given me a proper excuse to read these before the rest of the books on my TBR.

If you’ve got any recommendations of black authors, give me a shout! (Especially if you know of any that would celebrate February’s other meaning – LGBT+ history month!)

Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie


With wry humour and a deft touch, Butterfly Fish, the outstanding first novel by a stunning new writer, is a work of elegant and captivating storytelling. A dual narrative set in contemporary London and 18th century Benin in Africa, the book traverses the realms of magic realism with luminous style and graceful, effortless prose.

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma


In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990’s, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family. Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers.

Bloodchild by Octavia Butler


Years ago a group known as the Terrans left Earth in search of a life free of persecution. Now they live alongside the Tlic, an alien race who face extinction; their only chance of survival is to plant their larvae inside the bodies of the humans.

When Gan, a young, boy, is chosen as a carrier of Tlic eggs, he faces an impossible dilemma: can he really help the species he has grown up with, even if it means sacrificing his own life?

Bloodchild is Octavia E. Butler’s shattering meditation on symbiosis, love, power and tough choices. It won the Hugo, Locus, Nebula and Science Fiction Chronicle awards and is widely regarded as one of her greatest works.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue


Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Also, on my Litsy I have been doing a month-long book challenge – but for each prompt I’ve answered with a black author. I’m called whatthelog on there too, so if you’ve got a Litsy, consider giving me a follow!


15 thoughts on “black history month

  1. Brendon says:

    Fantastic List! I don’t know what it is about Butterfly Fish, but I love that cover. I hope to do a similar post or a wrap up post about what I have been reading. I’ve been trying to get back on Litsy a little bit and hope to see your photos!


  2. brenhinesbooks says:

    I also read Butterfly Fish and loved it! I made a couple posts focusing on books by black authors but would recommend in particular The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor and Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson.


  3. Grab the Lapels says:

    I think Dutchman, a play by Amiri Baraka, is really powerful, as is A Raisin in the Sun, another play by Lorraine Hansberry. Also, try a new memoir called PHD to Ph.D. by Elaine Richardson. Some classics I like are Black Boy by Richard Wright, If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.


      • Grab the Lapels says:

        I WAS HOLDING BACK, lol. If you want more, I got ’em. Also, you should be able to watch a version of Dutchman on YouTube. It’s broken into a few different videos, but it is really powerful. The acting is fantastic.


      • Grab the Lapels says:

        If you’re going to read African AMERICAN lit, it’s best to have some kind of order because the work so often reflects on a moment in history. I would start by reading Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. They are both nonfiction stories of slaves who became freed. Then, to cover the Reconstruction, you need to get yourself Black Boy by Richard Wright, which is also nonfiction, and some Paul Laurence Dunbar poems (may I recommend “We Wear the Mask” and “Jump Back, Honey” and “An Ante-bellum Sermon” and “The Colored Soldiers.” WEB Du Bois’s essays are a must. Next, comes the Harlem Renaissance, which means you need to read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and some Langston Hughes poems. Also, Quicksand by Nella Larsen. Next comes the period often called Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism, which is when we typically read Invisible Man and Native Son, two famous novels that pair well. This is also where Hansbarry and James Baldwin come in (read If Beale Street Could Talk). The Black Arts period comes next, which is when most people read Dutchmen and there’s a neat play called “Goin’a Buffalo: A Tragifantasy.” That gets us up to contemporary authors, like ZZ Packer, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Ntozake Shange, Sista Souljah, and Maya Angelou.


    • whatthelog says:

      I’m going to be writing up reviews of Butterfly Fish, The Fishermen and Behold the Dreamers, so you’ll be getting my in-depth thoughts soon! Bloodchild is a short story, so I’m not doing a full review. It wasn’t really for me, if I’m honest, but I should’ve expected that really. Hard science fiction isn’t my thing.


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