Lighthearted Reads by Black Authors : A List

In making this 25-book list of ~lighthearted~ books by Black authors I have come to the sore realization that I rarely read books with masculine/male Black characters written by Black men. Horrifying really. There’s a whole list of books I want to read that make up for that deficit but thinking of it as a quota is plain gross and also putting them on my list would be recommending books I haven’t read (can’t vouch for it with honesty), plus covering my tracks. But I am willfully exposing that I have massive holes in my ~diverse~ reading tastes and will therefore link blog posts from people who can recommend a wider variety than my woefully inadequate stack. Plus these aren’t all that new since I’ve been trying to finish reading books I presently own in 2020.

Here’s a bunch of action items to support Black Lives Matter:

Petitions

Donations

Educational Links

In addition to these you can and should look up your local representatives/alder-people/mayors/governors/state representatives etc and write or call urging them to defund the police and reroute all the resources (including police pension funds) to community resources like recreation centers, social workers, trauma aides, therapists, rehabilitation centers, and more.

Proceeding with my short list of relatively fun books by Black authors:

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: sex, strict and religious parents, harassment, slut shaming

Written in verse, this book is about a high schooler names Xiomara who finds slam poetry to be a cathartic way of processing her family faith, her place in the world, and general high school teenage angst. This is Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel and a grand slam at that.

I read this on my drive from Austin to Houston on double speed. Bad idea because verse has a certain pacing. Elizabeth Acevedo reads her own audiobook and BOI lemme tell you even in double speed I was wrapped around her finger.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: teen pregnancy, single parent, harassment, slut shaming

Elizabeth Acevedo’s second book, this is about Emoni Santiago, a teen mom living with her grandmother in Philadelphia. Emoni has a passion for cooking, in fact she can FEEL the magic she makes in the kitchen but her duty to her daughter make choosing a life in the culinary arts a little difficult. She’s vying for the culinary class school trip to Spain but of course is facing financial difficulties. Nonetheless, Emoni knows there’s nothing stopping her talent in the kitchen from making sure she stakes her claim in the culinary industry.

Frankly incredible. Stunning writing and so much heart in the story. Also the hardcover naked book is TO DIE FOR.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Trigger warnings: racism but make it fantasy

Camellia is one of the elite Belles on the island of Orléans where beauty is a commodity and a marker of status. People in Orléans are born grey and damned, but as a Belle Camellia has the powers to change the appearance of people who are lucky enough to afford the services of a Belle and the Queen’s favourite. After arriving at the palace she learns that the world of royalty is far more dark and sinister than she ever thought it would be. The powers she wields could be more dangerous than she could have anticipated. She’s tasked with helping the sick princess and is soon faced with an impossible decision.

This book got so much shit for being superficial and all about aesthetics. People sometimes don’t know how to read for coded messages. The Belles is chock full of allegories (symbolism?allusion?) for slavery, racism, colourism, and cultural appropriation. Frankly it astounded me people couldn’t see that within the first chapter itself but people are really blind to racism so I guess it be like that. Anyways, this is amazing please read.

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: bipolar disorder, missing family, drugs and alcohol

Suzette returns home to L.A. from boarding school and finds it difficult to reacclimatize herself with her old home life. Her step brother, Lionel, is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is leaning on her for support. As she settles into her routines at home, Suzette finds herself at the crossroads of adding to the pain she has already caused and making sure Lionel doesn’t get hurt further.

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: drugs, alcohol, slut shaming

Yvonne has always hidden behind her skill at the violin but as graduation approaches she finds that she’s falling out of love with music and might not make it into the conservatory she’s been aspiring to attend. As doubt plagues her and her relationship with her father continues to pose as a point of tension, Yvonne finds solace in a street musician who also struggles with his passion for music. He’s the polar opposite of her reliable and solid boyfriend, Warren. Yvonne cannot dawdle in her decisions anymore as a surprise pregnancy, a risky romance, and her passion for music could all change the course of her life.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance

Trigger warnings: ghosting, possible homophobia, sex

For this one I’ll give you the bare bones that roped me in: Likotsi is hella gay. She got ghosted but now she’s back in the same city as that ex. Ope the ex (Fabiola) is back and Likotsi has a chance to get answers. Gay shit ensues. Romance!!!

That’s it. That’s all you need. Also trust in Alyssa Cole.

Right about now I’m getting tired of long summaries. We’re going to stick with the above format. I’m not going back to change the other ones. Those took some damn hard work. Proceeding…

That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert

Genre: Adult, Romance

Trigger warnings: abusive ex, sex, aphobia, sexism

Zach is demisexual and done being treated like a fine piece of ass. He’s a metalsmith???? Bro. Rae is a famous author in hiding from her skeevy ex husband who tried to ruin her career but has to attend an awards ceremony where said ex will be parading his shiny new wife.Rae proposes a fake relationship. You can connect the dots from there.

Beware of surprise body piercings, that’s all I have to say. Also demisexuality rep. Talia Hibbert is the gift that keeps on giving as you will see.

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Genre: Adult, Romance

Trigger warnings: chronic illness and pain, homelessness, sex, alcohol

Chloe is a computer nerd with chronic illnesses and a plan to make sure she doesn’t live her life cooped up and afraid of pain. Enter Red, the hot neighbour she occasionally spots painting shirtless from her window. Red’s going to help her get through that bucket list of things that will officially declare that Chloe Brown in fact does have a life.

Dual perspective, exceptionally sweet and soft and cute. One of my favourites.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Genre: Adult, Romance

Trigger warnings: emotional manipulation, anxiety disorder, depression, sex, alcohol, non consensual internet fame, fire drill

Dani Brown, sister of Chloe Brown and PhD candidate, knows she isn’t cut out for romance therefore she is completely fine finding the occasional fuck buddy. One fine day a fire drill happens at her uni, homegirl gets caught in the elevator. Super hot security desk guy and friend of Dani, Zaf carries her out of the very not dangerous building. They get filmed, it goes viral. Zaf could use the publicity from their presumed romance and Chloe needs a fuck buddy. They cut a deal. Fake dating happens. They definitely will not fall in love. HAH you thought.

Dani is bi, Zaf is muslim and has anxiety. Chloe and Red make a cameo. A perfect concoction. Book isn’t out yet (releases on June 23rd) so pls buy when it’s released.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Trigger warnings: aphobia, sexual harassment and microaggressions, racism and microaggressions, anxiety and panic attacks, emotionally manipulative parent (not the MC’s)

The book of my heart!!!! Alice is biromantic asexual. Her girlfriend breaks up with her because Alice isn’t physical enough. Whelp. Alice proceeds to move in with her two bffs and finds a job at the local library to avoid going home and dealing with her very high strung family. Alice is done with dating but then she sees Takumi who gives her MAJOR feels. Is Alice going to risk it all and admit feelings for the guy who becomes a fast friend orrrr is he another someone who will not understand her asexuality…

The softest book you could ever read. People complain that the author uses too many parenthetical asides but I didn’t mind them. Maybe you won’t either…

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Trigger warnings: fatphobia, homophobia, racist microaggressions

Winnie’s done with high school and is spending her summer working to save her grandmother’s diner. She’s gotta figure a way around her grandmother’s expectations, deal with a small town full of people giving her unsolicited opinions on how she needs to be less fat, and a guy about whom she has major mixed feelings. Queerplatonic relationships and saving a family business!!! We love!!!!!

A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Classics Retelling

Trigger warnings: home invasion, gore and blood, dead parent, grief, loss of close friends, relatives with memory loss/alzheimer’s disease/dementia, kidnapping, battles

Buffy the Vampire layer meets Alice in Wonderland meets Sailor Moon, A Dream So Dark (bk 1 in a trology) is about Alice who gets attacked by a monster called a nightmare and is saved by Addison Hatta and is roped into a world of Wonderland and monster killing. Alice is trained to fight monsters and protect both the human world and Wonderland, all while balancing school, grades, frienship, and a very protective and loving mother with a no nonsense attitude about curfew. Shit hits the fan when Addison gets poisoned and Alice is charged with figuring out how to cure him and deal with the suspicious things happening in and out of Wonderland.

A Blade So Black: a gut wrenching 4 stars

A Dream So Dark: a showstopping 4.5 stars.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Genre: Middle Grade, Urban Fantasy, Mythology Retelling

Trigger warnings: loss of a best friend, kidnapping, fighting and gore

OHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOOOOOO this booook!!!!! Lemme tell youuuuuuuu

Tristan is headed to his grandparents’ farm, away from the city drama and loss of his best friend. That first night, he gets woken up by a wee holy terror who calls herself Gum Baby as she tries to steal his best friend’s journal. Tristan gets dragged into a world of West African Gods and African American Folk LEGENDS!!! Gum Baby is a trip and a half. Get the audiobook if you can because nothing can match the way the narrator reads her. Plus book two is on the way.

Miles Morales: Spider Man by Jason Reynolds

Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Superhero

Trigger warnings: gore and fighting

Do I really need to say much about this? If you loved Into the Spiderverse, this is the same thing but like kinda better because Jason Reynolds writes it.

Here’s a quick pitch anyways: Miles is headed to an elite high school in Brooklyn. He has to make sure to not make a damn fool of himself at school and also juggle being Spider Man. Spidey-senses start acting funny which leads to Miles getting suspended…big yikes. Dad advises him to focus on saving himself which Miles takes to heart except his racist history teacher isn’t really helping, not to mention Miles finds out some really bone chilling news that is about to put everyone in danger.

Written for middle grade so it’s a little on the nose but it’s a damn good read anyways.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Genre: Adult, Romance

Trigger warnings: Sex, alcohol use, cat-fish, mildly alarming twitter fame, workplace racism and microaggressions, FBI raid

Samiah Brooks gets thrown into a twitter clusterfuck when she realizes that a viral tweet thread about a disastrous date happened to be the same date she went on with her current boyfriend. After rightfully popping off on the toolbag and immediately befriending the other two girls who were also cat-fished, Samiah decides that she needs to commit to investing in herself i.e. no boyfriends only self growth. Except Daniel Collins walks into her place of work and happens to be all the right things in all the right ways. But is he just a little too good to be true?

Side note: Daniel is an undercover FBI agent and that’s a really uncomfortable point considering ACAB etc but he’s fictional so I just rolled past that.

3 stars for my three badass ladies. This is the first book in a trilogy. The other two follow London and Taylor, the girls who also got cat-fished.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Genre: Adult, Romance

Trigger warnings: Sex, alcohol use, being left at the altar, workplace racism and sexism mention

Starting with the last book I read and reviewed, The worst best man by Mia Sosa is an own voices adult romance about a Black, Brazilian-American wedding organizer who unwittingly ends up working with the brother of the man who left her at the alter. Petty revenge, angst, and sexual tensions ensue.

5 motherfucking stars.

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: estranged parent, police interaction

11-year-old William and his G’ma take an unplanned spring break road trip across the South armed with G’ma’s Green Book full of memories and a strict rule of NO PHONES, and no contact with Dad. William’s about to discover that the world hasn’t always been welcome to kids like him and that things, including his G’ma, are not always what they appear to be.

If you need a middle grade friendly book on race relations in America, you found it.

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Trigger warnings: biphobia, homophobia, cheating, sex, sexism, harassment, slut shaming, viriginity

Coop has been dumped more times than he can count and his bff is ignoring him. Jupiter is having girl dram but also boy drama which is throwing her established lesbian identity for a loop. Rae is the new girl who Coop and Jupiter welcome with open arms. She’s greatful for the company but is completely befuddled by her desire to kiss them both.

Kids be messy sometimes and it’s okay to figure out your sexuality over time. Wonderful book.

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: slut shaming, terminal illness and death of family member

Taja Brown comes from a strict African American family and feels out of the loop watching her friends go through normal teenage things like boyfriends and first kisses, something she is strictly forbidden from engaging in. When Taja falls in love for the first time, things get complicated.

Coming of age story that wrestles with religion, family, race, and identity. A little slow paced but really well written.

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: racism, gang violence, internet harassment, sexism

Angie Thomas’s name should really do the trick for you…

Bri wants to be a rapper and get out of her home town. For now she’s selling candy. Shit hits the fan with mom losing her job, stacks of bills, and the looming threat of homelessness. Now it’s not just a dream it’s a necessity which comes close to fruition when one of her raps goes viral and gives her a chance to make it big.

Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Trigger warnings: homophobia, trauma related to physical violence, sports related physical violence, anxiety, depression, alcohol/drug addition mention, relapse, overbearing parents

As you can see the cast of characters is hella white but Ngozi is LEGENDARY and this graphic novel is the absolute bees knees. Bitty is gay and bakes like a southern housewife from the 50s. He’s headed to Samwell to play men’s hockey despite being a figure skater for most of his life. Things get interesting as this angelic little Southern Belle has to deal with the hockey bros. Don’t worry, they’re their own brand of wholesome.

You can also read it here for free!!

The Blk Love Mixtape by Brandon Alexander Williams

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Poetry

Trigger warnings: objectification, harassment mention, racism mention, sexism mention

Anthology of poems by local Chicago Black poets and writers dedicated to Black women. The book has QR codes so you can listen to the writers read their own work. Some of these are mind blowing.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Trigger warnings: undocumented immigrants, deportation, racism, suicide mention, depression

Most of y’all have already read the legendary Nicola Yoon. Here goes anyways because I love this book SO MUCH.

Natasha is on a mission to figure out a way to not get deported back to Jamaica and she has twelve hours. She doesn’t have time to meet a cute boy and fall in love with him. Daniel, good son extraordinaire, is CONVINCED he can get her to fall in love with him. Deal is made. He tags along with her while she hunts down immigration services and spends the day wooing her with tales of fate and the Will of the Universe.

Oh and of course you know about the movie :D:D

Black Enough by Ibi Zoboi

Genre: Young Adult, Anthology

Trigger warnings: racism mention, sexism mention, slavery mention

Ibi Zoboi puts together an anthology of short stories that chronicle the experiences, thoughts, lives, loves, and struggles of black teens across America in a range of lifestyles. Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jay Coles, Renée Watson, and MOREEEEEEE

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Classics Retelling

Trigger warnings: classism, sexual harassment mention

Pride and Prejudice set in Brooklyn. Zuri is proud of bring Afro Latina but is finding it hard to use that pride to stop the neighbourhood gentrification. Rich pretty-boy Darcy moves into the mansion across the street and Zuri is hell bent on keeping her distance but Janae, her elder sister, falling for Darcy’s brother makes that a bit difficult. You know how Pride and Prejudice goes, I don’t think I need to say more.

Well that’s my whole list. I’ve read most of these and the ones I haven’t are from my ride or die faves so they’re a guaranteed good read. As you know, I’ve been on a “no new books until you finish what you currently have” resolution for the year so I dug through my past reads and current shelf to give you my top 25. Below are a few bloggers who recommend newer releases by black authors:

Have a good day/night/whatever and remember ACAB. That’s all folks 🙂

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