A woman who’s going places is a woman who stays informed by reading all the latest and greatest books.
Don’t get left behind. There are scores of amazing Black writers out there across the genres that are musing on and documenting the subjects we as African American women are passionate about.
If you’re still putting together your reading list for the year and want some suggestions, we’ve got all the leads on the must-have books every Black woman should have in her collection for 2016.
1. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, Shonda Rhimes
Rhimes writes about a yearlong challenge she posed to herself to say ‘yes’ to more events in her professional and familial life. The result is a dynamic manifesto for scrappy, determined women who need a push in the right direction for their personal goals and their self-esteem.
2. After the Dance: My Life With Marvin Gaye, Jan Gaye With David Ritz
Jan Gaye finally breaks her silence on her tumultuous, yet loving and passionate marriage with the late, great Marvin Gaye. In the book, Gaye spills the details on how she and the Motown singer fell in love when she was only 17-years-old—a whopping 17-year difference—as well as their struggles with drugs, and Jan Gaye’s own career in the entertainment industry rubbing elbows with the likes of Don Cornelius and Frankie Beverly.
3. Stand Your Ground, Victoria Christopher Murray
Victoria Christopher Murray writes a novel depicting two women on either side of a #blacklivesmatter case. One is the Black mother of a slain teen whose killer has yet to be arrested. The other is the wife of the accused murderer grappling with a dilemma: should she tell the authorities what she knows to help serve justice and solve the case? Or should she hold her tongue to protect herself and her own son?
4. 50 Billion Dollar Boss: African American Women Sharing Stories of Success in Entrepreneurship and Leadership, Kathey Porter & Andrea Hoffman
In a year when the number of Black-women owned businesses has skyrocketed by almost 300 percent since 1997, it’s no doubt that sisters are having a big influence in today’s economy. However, for the Black women who are just starting out without someone to show them the way, Kathey Porter and Andrea Hoffman have stepped in to help. At only about 200 pages, 50 Billion Dollar Boss features scores of profiles on female entrepreneurs and top-level execs that detail their own stories and insights on building a sustainable, growing company.
5. How to Be Drawn, Terrance Hayes
Terrance Hayes is back in his now fifth collection of poems exploring our personal perspectives and the way we are perceived by others. Hayes’ poems illustrate his background as a visual artist, featuring charts, lists as well as real and make-believe maps.
6. Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama
In this heartfelt memoir, President Obama shares deeply personal accounts from his youth as he examines his life growing up biracial in the country. The book chronicles his experience up until attending Harvard Law School, and offers an inside look at the man who would make history as the first African American president of the United States.
7. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
Through one of the most important books on the fallacies of colorblindness and a post-racial society, Alexander explains how the “War on Drugs” is a racist tool used to create the prison industrial complex and adversely affect Black Americans.
8. Americanah, Chimamanda Negozi Adichie
Americanah is a tale of love, race, and the essence of being an African living in America. It breaks down the experience of being an outsider in terms of nationality and race, all through a complicated, vivid and emotional love story of two Nigerians living outside of their homeland.
9. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
One of the finest works written on race in 2015, Coates tells his story through letters to his son. The letters are both personal and profound; they detail his experiences and feelings about being a Black man in America. Coates writes bluntly about the lack of racial progress in modern America and is now seen as the successor to Baldwin’s thoughts and ideas.