Support Black Authors

For the Conscious Reader 150 Black Authors organized into genre.

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Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve explained in my previous posts, (here, and here) that I’m going to be more intentional about the books I read. So I wanted to take the time to share my journey with you guys. I’ve begun this journey by google searching “books by black authors.”

Please note: This is only the beginning, I intend to network and connect with lesser known authors as well. Moving on.

I want to read books from individuals whose voices need to be heard and understood, in order create social change. I want to keep a forward momentum on all of our efforts. I do believe that right the internet is a great place to create social change. It can allow people to search up topics without judgement. We just have to make the topics visible to everyone. Also, I have learned mostly as an author, that reading books helps me to notice similarities I have with the others, whether it be the author or the characters. I love that feeling when I’m reading and I’m like “Oh, they thought of that too!”

Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer, here is the list of lists of black authors from reliable sources.

Oprah Magazine- 44 Books by Black Authors

Ideas.Ted.Com- 62 books by Black authors recommended by Ted Speakers

Penguin Random House- 33 Books by Contemporary Black Authors

KPBS.org- 6 Books By Black Authors To Put On Your Summer Reading List

PBS.org- 10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read

BuzzFeed- 42 Amazing Books Written By Black Authors

Good Housekeeping- 25 Books By Black Authors to Add to Your Reading List

Some the Wiser- My Favorite Contemporary Fiction by Black Authors

Here they are by genre

Fiction is in Alphabet order by title and Non Fiction is in alphabet order by last name.

Fiction

Adventure

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Fairytale

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Fiction

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

If I Stay Right Here: A Novel by Chwayita Ngamlana

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Domestic

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

On Beauty: A Novel by Zadie Smith

Drama

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Literary

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

Five-Carat Soul by James McBride

Grand Union by Zadie Smith

Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Uncle Tom’s Children A Novella by Richard Wright

What We Lose by zinzi clemmons

Mystery

Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley

Autobiographical

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Coming of Age

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Romance

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

Indigo by Beverly Jenkins

Waiting To Exhale by Terry McMillan

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Fantasy

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Psychological

Another Country by James Baldwin

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Erotic

Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey

Historical Fiction

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Loving Day by Mat Johnson

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Travelers by Regina Porter

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Vanishing Half by Brit BennettThe Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Magical Realism

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

Young Adult

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Thriller

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Gay/Lesbian/LGBTQ

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Satire

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Sci-Fi

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Version Control by Dexter Palmer

True Crime

A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo

Poetry

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow was Enuf: a choreopoem by Ntozake Shange

Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Take This Stallion by Anaïs Duplan

Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire

salt. by Nayyirah Waheed

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Non Fiction

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt

The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race by Melanye Price

Autobiography/Memoir/Biography

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo

The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell

Black Is the Body by Emily Bernard

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittany Cooper

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

The Well-Read Black Girl An Anthology by Glory Edim

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

The Autobiography of Malcom X by Alex Haley

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston

Some of Us Did NOT Die by June Jordan

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

Lovesong: Becoming a Jew by Julius Lester

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jennifer Lewis

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America by Gregory Pardlo

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly

Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays by R. Eric Thomas

We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True by Gabrielle Union

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

Black Boy by Richard Wright

Manifesto

Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu

Christian Literature

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Self-Help

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt

The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor Wooten

Thesis/Law

The New Jim Crowby Michelle Alexander

Essays

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Women, Race, And Class by Angela Y. Davis

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Reference

Soar: How Boys Learn, Succeed, and Develop Character by David C. Banks

Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Change by Stacey Abrams

Not sure what genre

A Human Being Died That Night: Confronting Apartheid’s Chief Killer by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

End of List

Save the page and make it a 2021 challenge, or just save it for future reference.

Please feel free to contact me in order to add your favorite black authors to the list. (Fingers crossed I’ll be added soon.)

“Art In My World”

Art is an exchange of ideas.

Something I love about art is that its message can evolve and grow as the art is passed down from the creator. When I first began to write, I used to be offended when people misunderstood my work. Then, I came to realize that the evolution of thought is what art is all about. Not that it’s about being misunderstood but it’s about setting the idea free and allowing it to be whatever it becomes. It’s not always easy to allow your work to be its own thing separate from you as the creator.

“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.”— Jerzy Kosinski

When we set out to create something, we must trust that when it’s time, a message will be revealed. We must also be understanding that it won’t be in the same way that we, as the artist, received it, because…

Read “Art In My World” by Saschia J https://link.medium.com/S5KuDGFA18

Writing Like A Writer

We all do this writing thing different

That doesn’t matter

It’s not about how or when you write

it’s about doing it

it’s about continuing to do it

even when doing it no longer makes sense

There’s a silent commitment

between you and the words

and an image of you writing

alone

And that’s it

-Saschia

Extracting Ideas From The Inside

Central sensitisation occurs in the synapse of the dorsal horn.

This is literally what a thought looks inside the brain. But when we think, this is not what we see. Today I’d like to discuss how we get our thoughts from conception into a place where we can mold them into a story.

Getting ideas from pure thought onto paper can be a complicated thing.

But there’s a trick.

The trick is….

to just start writing. And that’s it. You’re swell-come.

No, but seriously, that’s the trick, to start writing. Write the story without limits. When I start my story, I also use journals, maps, lists, brain storming, charts, Pinterest, worksheets, whatever I need to pull all the pieces together.

I think of this process in the same way Michelangelo thought of David. In the beginning, it’s a slab of rock or a mass of words and as a writer at some point, it will be my duty to carve away at my story until I set it free. The setting free of the story happens later. So right now we are building our slab of marble to have something to carve from.

While getting these thoughts on paper it’s ok to struggle. The process of getting my story onto paper is a lot of walking in the dark chaotic recesses of my mind. It sounds complex because it is a complex thing to do. So when I struggle, which I do, it’s important to accept that as part of this extraction process.

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
― Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades

Trust your own thoughts and ideas and give them credit when they show up. At this point the only important thing is extracting ideas from the inside of your mind. Stay open to your own ideas and give every single one credit. You can weed through it all later. Focus on making this a positive experience so you can get it all out. All your ideas and thoughts are worthy of acceptance.

And that’s it. Start writing the story. Write everything down without limits. It’s OK to struggle, and remember all ideas and thoughts are worthy of acceptance.

Writers challenge

Start and finish a short story within an hour. I find that I’m more forced to deal with the ideas I have when I set a time restraint. While writing your story, journal or use at least one other resource to assist in welcoming all your ideas.
Accept the story as it comes.
When you’re finished, sculpt and mold it into a short story. Then you’ll have one more piece to add to your collection

I also spoke about Why understanding the Creative Process is important   and What the creative process is Click the links if you want to learn more about the creative process

Links to sites that added to the creation of this post
https://backtoroots.community/clinical-corner-articles/2017/2/8/sensitisation-primary-adaptive-vs-secondary-maladaptive -for the picture

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/creative-process -for the quote

I can’t find where I learned this about Michelangelo so if someone knows please send me link.

Conceived Ideas? -The Creative Process

Nature, Horizontal, No Person, Creativity, Simplicity

The truth is once a piece is finished, most ideas conceived will have no place of origin. Plus, some things are meant to be kept as an artist’s secret, and I respect that.
However, Henry James left us a list of places that ideas come from and it’d be my pleasure to share that with you.

Curiosity

Curiosity killed the cat but created a writer. I try my best not to push away the things that I’m curious about especially when it keeps returning to me. I like to dive in and find the answers I’m looking for. Then, I find new questions to explore.

Variety of attempts

If at first you don’t succeed try try again. I definitely don’t always get it right the first time and that’s ok. Art thrives on failure. I’m not going to give up on writing because I messed up a couple hundred times. I keep writing! And If I have to scrap an idea, I don’t throw it away, I always try to tuck it away in case I can incorporate it into another piece. Or even use it to inspire new ideas.

Exchange of view points

Hearing someone else’s perspective of the world is so interesting to me. It helps to see things from outside of the box that I sometimes live in. It can definitely spark ideas after a good conversation with a friend.

Experiment

Experimenting and tinkering with different styles, plots, genres, or whatever else helps me to get out of the monotony of it all. Experiments are uncomfortable, they don’t have a home, and they take a lot of time and focus which is all great because there’s something about getting out of my comfort zone that gets my creative juices flowing. You should totally try it.

Comparison of standpoints

I love to use conflict to inspire my writing. Passion fuels a lot of my poetry and the purpose for a couple novels I’m working on. Comparison of standpoint helps to conceive new ideas because it make me want to give my audience a story that helps to explain my perspective.
So there you have it. The five places ideas are conceived.
I challenge you to try a couple of these (or all) then spend time just brainstorming a bunch of ideas. Or use them create new ideas to add to a story you’re currently working on. I’ll be doing it with you.

 

Saschia Johnson On the Creative Process, Conceived Ideas

 

 

 

Question for fiction writers

I’m what is called a pantser like Stephen King. I don’t outline the story ahead of time. But I do take time to stop and think or journal on where I’d like my characters to end up. Anyhow, my two characters, a woman and a man, are growing in separate places right now. The guy’s growth is far more interesting than the woman’s. In real life this normal since women mature at a younger age than men, but in writing is this ok? Should I find more balance? Should I be more deliberate about her growth? My only concern is that she will be unrealistic if I am too deliberate. Or am I over thinking and this is how characters grow in fiction.

Fiction writers, do you find this or do this intentionally. Like, give another character more spotlight? Maybe it’s her slow growth that makes him more interesting and vibrant? I’d love to hear your strategies.

Just for fun -On Writing

Today I was having a hard time focusing. So I decided to just have fun with my writing today. I didn’t focus on a concept, or a theme. I also did not try to root my focus on anything in the background while I wrote. I just wanted my characters to basically dance in the rain. I had my wild woman show her curious silly side and my male character show his playful flirty side. It felt good to let go of all the demands for a time.

What kind of things do you do to get the words out when you can’t focus?