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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books By Black Authors On My TBR Mountain Chain

Today's TTT topic is all about our favorite fictional heroines (Top Ten Favorite Heroines [Or Heroes, If You Like]). Since my aging brain is pretty much rubbish at remembering specifics about characters and would likely revert to leading ladies I've already talked about a million times, I'm going to go in a different direction today. February is almost over and I've yet to talk about Black History Month at all. So, today, I'm going to dish about books on my TBR list by Black authors. 

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Click on over there and give her some love, won't you? If you want to join in the TTT fun, all the details are on her blog.

Top Ten Books By Black Authors On My TBR List Pile Mountain Mountain Chain
- in no particular order - 

1. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson—Woodson is one of my long-time favorite authors. She's a prolific writer who pens books in a variety of genres for readers of all ages. She's written dozens of books, so it's not surprising that I've yet to read all of them. Harbor Me is a middle-grade novel about a group of kids who are required to meet every week for a group therapy chat sans adults. As they create a safe space for each other, they are freed to talk about the things that are really bothering them—from fears of deportation and racial profiling to money worries to family drama and everything in between. Sharing their worries makes them feel not just seen but also brave enough to tackle whatever comes their way. Sounds like an uplifting, empowering read!


2. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray—This historical novel has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. It tells the true story of Belle da Costa Greene, a powerful woman who was hired by J.P. Morgan to curate a collection of books and art for his newly-built library. Unbeknownst to most people, Greene had a closely-guarded secret. She was a light-skinned Black woman who passed as white—a risky business in America in the early 1900s. 

This duo's forthcoming novel, The First Ladies, which publishes on June 7, also sounds like an excellent read. 


3. The Davenports by Krystal Marquis—I'm not much for romance novels, but this YA historical has been popping up all over the place and it does sound entertaining. Inspired by real people, the book revolves around a Black family whose formerly enslaved patriarch made a fortune through the carriage company he founded. By 1910, the Davenports are enjoying a glamorous lifestyle with all the glitzy trimmings. As various members of the family deal with love, loss, and life's daily dramas, they will learn and grow together.


4. A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire HartfieldHelen reviewed this middle-grade non-fiction book on her blog a few years ago and I knew it was one I needed to read. It recounts the true story of some young Black teen boys who accidentally swam too close to a "white" beach on Lake Michigan. A incensed white man began throwing rocks at one of them, causing the young man to drown. The police refused to arrest the man. Tensions stemming from the incident led to days of violent race riots in Chicago. 


5. Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson—A contemporary adult novel, this one concerns a matriach's death and the secrets she leaves in her wake. When Eleanor Bennett leaves her two children a strange inheritance—a black cake baked from a secret family recipe and a puzzling voice recording—they're left to grapple with secrets they never could have imagined. Will piecing together their family's true history bring them together or tear them apart forever?


6. The Reformatory by Tananarive Due (available June 27, 2023)—This horror novel is getting mixed reviews so far, but it sounds intriguing to me. Set in 1950, it's about a Black boy named Robert Stephen Jones, Jr., who is sent to a reform school after he kicks a white boy's leg. Robert soon discovers that the Gracetown School for Boys is a segregated institution that is haunted by the ghosts of boys who have died there. 


7. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds—I discovered Reynolds' impactful books last year and am working on reading them all. The winner of numerous awards, this YA novel-in-verse is about gun violence and the puzzling mystery that unexpectedly brings three teens together on one very tense elevator ride. 


8. My Lord, He Calls Me: Stories of Faith by Black American Latter-day Saints by Alice Faulkner Burch (editor)—A writer, entrepeneur, advocate, and faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Burch compiled this collection of essays by active Black Latter-day Saints. I just bought this book and can't wait to dive into these faith-filled stories by people whose experience with the Church has been unique to say the least. It promises to be an enlightening read.


9. On Air With Zoe Washington by Janae Marks—I loved From the Desk of Zoe Washington, so I'm all in for this sequel. After Zoe's work in the first book, her birth father has finally been exonerated and released from prison. His dream now is to open his own restaurant, which is a goal baking-obsessed Zoe can definitely get behind. Turns out, it's not easy to turn a dream into a reality. Nor is it simple for an exoneree to reenter society. Zoe decides to start a podcast to bring light to the issue, but is anyone really listening?


10. What Never Happened by Rachel Howzell Hall (available July 11, 2023)—Obituary writer Coco Weber has moved back to Catalina Island to start over. Her friend, the owner of a local newspaper, assures her she'll have plenty of work to do in a place so full of elderly residents. Turns out, a lot of people are dying on the island. And some of those deaths are downright suspicious. When Coco receives a sinister threat in the form of her own obituary, she knows she's on to something. Determined to find the truth, Coco finds herself tracking down a serial killer and researching her own tragedy for answers.


There you go, ten books by Black authors that are on my TBR mountain chain. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Which literary heroines/heroes did you feature today? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. 

Happy TTT!


  1. Personal Librarian is fascinating! And I know you’ll love Black Cake! Happy reading! ~Carol @ Reading Ladies

    1. Oh, good! I'm excited that you enjoyed both of them. That bodes well for my own enjoyment :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carol!

  2. Wow, so many of these sound really good! I had to add a few to my TBR, and I definitely agree about Black Cake - that one was a real winner for me last year. This is a great list, and I love that you highlighted Black authors specifically.

    1. Everyone seems to love BLACK CAKE, so that's good news. It sounds like a book I will also really enjoy. Fingers crossed!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leah!

  3. Fantastic books and I am excited that the Chicago Riots book made the list. I've read a few of these and they were all excellent!

    1. I love learning through children's non-fiction! It's a great way to get an introduction to a topic in a clear, concise manner. Usually, these kinds of books are perfect for giving me a general idea of what happened so that I know if I want to read more about the subject or not. You're great at highlighting these kinds of books! I think that's how I find most of them :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

  4. Reynolds' book sounds awesome- and timely, huh? The Latter- day Saint book as well. Thanks for sharing these. The last author as well, I had a book by her on my to read list at one point- I don't think I ever got to it

    1. Reynolds does a great job of talking about current issues in his books. I'm excited to read more of them. The LDS one is one I'm very much looking forward to. My daughter (who's adopted) is bi-racial and she's often the only person of color in our local religious gatherings. I definitely want to understand that perspective better.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Greg!

  5. Very nice picks. I've not heard of them. Thank you for sharing!

    1. They all sound good to me. Hopefully, I'm not disappointed!

      Thanks for stopping in, Angel!

  6. I've been seeing The Davenports everywhere, too! I hadn't really read much about it, but that cover design certainly does catch my eye. :) Thanks so much for visiting my website this week.

    1. Seriously, it's been EVERYWHERE! Usually that kind of makes me NOT want to read a book, but I'm intrigued by this one and, I agree, that cover is super eye-catching. I love all the bright colors.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Rissi!

  7. I've seen good things about Black Cake. Hope you enjoy all the books on your list, Susan!

    1. Same. BLACK CAKE has been getting excellent reviews. I'm excited to read it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Rachel!

  8. Long Way Down is so good. I also want to read Black Cake.

    1. I just got the audiobook of LONG WAY DOWN from the library. It sounds like such a powerful read/listen!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Anne!

  9. A great list. And some interesting looking books there.
    I have Black Cake on my want to read list.

    Have a great week!

    1. I hope we both love BLACK CAKE! It sounds excellent.

      Thanks for popping in, Emily!

  10. I have read A Few Red Drops, Black Cake, and A Long Way Down, and I found all three of these to be exceptional reads.

    1. Oh, good! I'm really excited for all of them. I just got LONG WAY DOWN on audio so I'll be starting it today.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deb!

  11. Jason Reynolds is one of those authors that I've been meaning to read for so long. This is a great reminded to check my library for his books.

    1. I'm so glad I finally tried Reynolds last year. I've loved all four of the books I've read by him so far. Bonus is that they're short, fast-paced books so it's easy to binge-read him.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Tanya!

  12. Black Cake was so good and Long Way Down is a great read as well. My son and I both enjoyed the first Zoe Washington book and he is reading the new one now!

    1. Sounds like I picked well this week :) The Zoe Washington books are great. I'm glad you guys are also fans.

      Thanks for popping in, Dara!

  13. The Davenports is on my TBR. I’m looking up the rest of these books, too. Thanks for the recommendations. :)

    My post:

    1. I'm glad you found some new titles to pique your interest. I hope we both enjoy these!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  14. I've heard good things about The Personal Librarian - want to read that one. What Never Happened looks like a good one too. Nice list!

    1. I've seen lots of positive buzz for THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN. I hadn't heard of Hall before compiling this list, but she's actually written a number of books and they all sound like ones I'd like. We'll see!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Kay!

  15. Both of those Zoe Washington books sound really sweet and heart-felt. I'll have to look them up.

    1. I've only read the first one, but it's definitely heartfelt. Also unique since murder mysteries aren't common in the middle grade genre.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Louise!

  16. Great list! I haven't read any of these, but I did read Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds last year, and enjoyed that a lot. I hope you enjoy these!

    1. Nice! I haven't read that one yet, but I've enjoyed everything I've read so far by Reynolds so I'm sure I'll like that one as well.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

  17. I hadn't heard of The Personal Librarian before, but it sounds like something I would like to read. All of these do really. I hope you get to read them soon.

    1. I'm glad you found some titles to pique your interest! I hope we both enjoy them.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deanna!

  18. Great topic!! I really want to read The Davenports!! I hope you have a lovely week, Susan!

    1. THE DAVENPORTS sounds good, doesn't it? I hope we both love it!

      Thanks for stopping in!

  19. This is a great twist for today's topic. I loved Black Cake.

  20. Jason Reynolds is my son's favorite author. I just picked up a copy of Black Cake and hope to start it soon. Almost all of the others are on my TBR.

  21. Great twist on the topic. Well done, Susan.

  22. Long Way Down is one of my favorite books ever. I hope you enjoy all these!

  23. This is such a great list! I'd only heard of Black Cake and The Personal Librarian, so I've added a few new titles to my TBR!

  24. I can't wait to read The Davenports. :)

  25. Great choice this week! I've only read Black Cake from your list, but several others are on my tbr. I especially want to read Long Way Down soon!

  26. I definitely need to read more Jacqueline Woodson and you can't go wrong with Jason Reynolds' books. I've also heard such good things about The Davenports that I might have to pick it up soon, too :)

  27. Loved this list! My take is Black History Month too - picture book biographies.. I have The Personal Librarian and Zoe on my TBR as well. I loved the graphic novel version of Long Way Down.. Here is my TTT

  28. Some of these look really good. I'll have to add them to my own TBR mountain. Have a great weekend. - Katie

  29. A week late, but I'm finally getting around to TTT responses. Covid knocked me for a loop! I have several of these already on my TBR but you introduced me to a couple new ones that I'll add. Great idea for a list!
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

  30. Great list! On Air With Zoe Washington and The Davenports both sound so much fun. Hope you'll enjoy all of these!

  31. Solid topic pick -- other than one Jason Reynolds book, I don't think I've actually read any of these authors. I certainly recognize Woodson, I just can't recall if I actually ended up reading any of hers or just saw them at the library a lot. Out of curiosity, is that the one you'd recommend to start with, or is there another favorite?

    Two of the best Black YA authors I've come across recently are Janice Lynn Mather and Elise Bryant -- the former has really good serious contemporary stuff, the latter has what appear to be lighter contemporaries/romances, but some serious themes embedded within.


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