15 Great Books By Black Authors That Make You Think Differently

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Best Books that will make you think

If you’re looking for thought-provoking books, these books will make you think about the world in a different way and challenge your preconceived notions about society, race, and more.

There’s nothing like reading a book that will challenge your perceptions and make you think about how we treat each other as human beings. Whether it’s tackling racism or exploring social issues, these thought-provoking books by black authors are sure to get you thinking.

When it comes to black authors, there is an ever-increasing list of books that make you think about race relations and social issues in the world. It’s not surprising since so many black authors write about what they know- their own experiences living in a world where racism is often at play, and with their stories, black authors challenge readers to see the world in a new light.

If you’re looking for books that make you think more deeply, you can’t go wrong with these thought-provoking books.

Elisabeth sign.

Books That Make You Think About Life

Becoming

Becoming

by Michelle Obama

Becoming is the intimate, powerful, and beautifully written memoir by Michelle Obama, from her childhood to becoming the First Lady of the United States. It talks about her upbringing in Chicago’s South Side with her family, meeting Barack Obama at work, and how hard she worked to become who she was even though she had grown up on the south side of Chicago. There are many lessons that can be learned throughout Becoming, specifically regarding adversity, dreams, hope, love and resilience.

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Born A Crime

Born A Crime

by Trevor Noah

This book chronicles Trevor’s life growing up in South Africa during apartheid. He talks about his experiences as an interracial child and the struggles he faced trying to fit into both black and white culture at school; this memoir explores racism around him while offering hope for a better future where everyone will be free from discrimination based on their skin color or race.

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Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive

by Natasha Trethewey

At age nineteen, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became.

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Great Books That Make You Think Differently

Such A Fun Age

Such A Fun Age

by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age is an exceptional, fast-paced debut from an outstanding new voice about race and privilege set in the midst of a young black babysitter accused of kidnapping because out late with a white child, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both. 

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Americanah

Americanah

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When military-ruled Nigeria closes to them, Ifemelu and Obinze are in their early twenties and in love. Ifemelu, a beautiful, self-assured woman, departs for the United States, where she must confront her identity as a black person for the first time. Quiet Obinze had wanted to travel with her but was unable to due to post 9/11 America being closed to him; instead, he plunged into a perilous, undocumented existence in London. They reconnect in a newly democratic Nigeria 15 years later, reigniting their love as well as their passion for each other and their country.

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The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer tells the story of Hiram Walker, born into slavery on a Virginia plantation called Lockless in 1820. The son of an enslaved woman and her white master, Hiram is gifted with a mysterious power that makes him aware of the other slaves and their desperate yearning for freedom. The Water Dancer is an incredible, propulsive work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.

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Queenie

Queenie

by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman who lives in London and straddles two cultures. She’s forced to compare herself to her white middle-class peers at a national newspaper where she works. After a messy breakup from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous males who do a good job of taking up brain space while doing nothing to affirm self-esteem. Queenie is a train wreck, but she’s also a reader’s dream. Queenie Jenkins’ compelling voice and flawed character make her story worth telling…and reading.

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The Underground Railroad book cover

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

This novel tells the story of Cora, a runaway slave who is trying to escape from slavery in Alabama. She makes her way north on the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses and abolitionists who helps slaves escape to freedom. The Underground Railroad is an amazing book that brings to life the harrowing journey of slaves seeking freedom.

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YA Books That Make You Think

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give follows sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name.

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With The Fire on High

With The Fire on High

by Elizabeth Acevedo

From the author of The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

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Fiction Books That Make You Think

Behold The Dreamers

Behold The Dreamers

 by Imbolo Mbue

Behold The Dreamers is a compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy. 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. 

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From Scratch

From Scratch

by Tembi Locke

From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and those who needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.

It was love at first sight when actress Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of his marrying a black American woman. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forged on. They built a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships, and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopted at birth. Eventually, they reconciled with Saro’s family just as he faced a formidable cancer that would consume all their dreams. 

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These ghosts are family

These Ghosts are Family

by Maisy Card

These Ghosts Are Family explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret. This electric and luminous family saga announces the arrival of a new American talent.

Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend.

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remembrance

Remembrance

by Rita Woods

This breakout historical debut with modern resonance is perfect for the many fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train.

Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there.

Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young nurse grapples with her life. 

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The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye 

by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye is a novel about racism, classism, and beauty in the African-American community. This book explores how people’s lives are affected by their experiences with race and beauty.

Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white school fellows.

At once intimate and expansive, unsparing in its truth-telling, The Bluest Eye shows how the past savagely defines the present. 

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15 thought-provoking books by black authors

Do you have any other thought-provoking books to add? Let me know in the comments below!

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