Throughout February each year, people worldwide take time to recognize and celebrate Black history. This month-long celebration and recognition of Black history offer us all a chance to focus on both the achievements and expansive, deep culture of the Black community. It also provides an opportunity to acknowledge the need for significant change in the racist systems and attitudes that persist against Black individuals.
For Black History Month 2022, a broad theme of health and wellness is the focus. Although offering insights and tips for financial wellness may be a clearer connection to this theme, I am opting for a slightly different approach. Since the pandemic began, I’ve committed to spending more time on the activities that bring me joy—as a form of self-care and personal wellness through what we can all agree has been a trying time. Reading was bumped to the top of that list, as I realized I had made far less time for sitting down with a good book in recent years.
To help narrow down the lengthy list of titles I wanted to read, I prioritized Black authors and non-fiction works first. For better or worse, I am a memoir queen and can indulge in others’ storytelling for hours. I sincerely appreciate the commonalities among Black authors sharing their experiences to my own life, both good and bad. Many of the books mentioned below showcase these qualities, and I hope you can find one (or three) that speaks to you as well. Without further ado!
Between the World and Me — Ta-Nehisi Coates
This book was so beautifully written I could not put it down. The author presents his work as a letter addressed to his son. Throughout, he offers deep and thoughtful insight into the many aspects of being Black.
Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir — Nikki Grimes
As a collection of poems, Ordinary Hazards reads quickly but packs an unspeakable amount of depth. The book was as heartbreaking as it was inspiring, and showcased an array of themes from mental health to complex family relationships.
Heavy: An American Memoir — Kiese Laymon
I do not often cry when reading, but this book moved me to tears on multiple occasions. Laymon’s book speaks eloquently but directly to two distinct issues in America: an obsession with weight, and persistent racism. It is a must-read.
This Will Be My Undoing — Morgan Jerkins
In her book, Jerkins challenges the reader with strong, honest depictions of Black womanhood. I found myself shaking my head—both yes and no—throughout this work, in agreement in some moments and astonishment in others. This is a book I will read again.
Flowers on the Moon — Billy Chapata
As a beautiful collection of prose, Flowers on the Moon by Billy Chapata is an easy but thought-provoking read. The author shares powerful advice and perspective on all things love, heartbreak, moving on, and letting go.
Thick — Tressie McMillan Cottom
This collection of essays from one of the most profound writers and thought leaders I have ever read is candid and moving. Countless themes run through her work, including money and status, survival and resilience, and personal and political challenges.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness — Austin Channing Brown
From the story behind her name to her experiences working in racial justice, I’m Still Here was equal parts relatable and poignant. The author shares intimate glimpses into her journey that felt a bit like looking into a mirror.
I Miss My Friend — Drs. Malena Banks and Maryam Jernigan
If you’re looking for a children’s book by Black author
s, I Miss My Friend is a must. This joint effort explores the struggles of being a kid during the pandemic, and how those feelings of sadness, anger, and boredom aren’t uncommon.
Do you have other books by Black authors you can recommend? We’d love to hear your selections or suggestions. In the meantime, I hope we are all able to celebrate Black History Month in a way that promotes health and wellness throughout the Black community and paves the way for more impactful storytelling for years to come.