Even though Black authors and Black stories have skyrocketed in popularity since the #BlackLivesMatter movement began, book publishing has remained shockingly white. And that’s just one reason to consciously seek out Black authors (and especially Black women, trans, and non-binary authors) when you’re compiling your to-read lists and working your way through reading challenges this year.
The other reason? There are tons of incredible Black women writing books right now — and their amazing stories are not to be missed.
Below, we’ve collected some of the best books we’ve already read this year here at Scary Mommy, as well as some of the books that haven’t hit shelves yet but are already getting stellar reviews. It’s an amazing pile, of pretty much every fiction genre. Let’s jump in!
‘The American Queen’ by Vanessa Miller
This amazing tale is based on a true story that I had never heard before: In 1869, after the Civil War and the fall of slavery, a group of former slaves left their plantation and started a utopian society that had a king and a queen. What!? I definitely want to read everything about this.
Publishes January 30
‘Dead in Long Beach, California’ by Venita Blackburn
The debut novel by Venita Blackburn has some of the biggest literary big-hitters talking — it’s been billed as funny, fast-moving, weird, and touching. The story follows Coral, who is grieving the loss of her brother to suicide. When she finds his phone, she decides to start answering his texts as if he were still alive. What happens next is over the top. This one is waiting for me on my bedside table and I can’t wait.
Publishes January 23
‘Come & Get It’ by Kiley Reid
Such A Fun Age was a solid five-star read for me, so I was extremely excited to read Kily Reid’s next novel, Come and Get It. It centers upon a Southern university dorm, where we follow a group of undergrads, a non-traditional RA, and a writing professor who is fascinated with the group. While this definitely is not a fast-moving, plot-driven read, I loved the character studies and flew through the book in a day due to Reid’s amazing ability to write realistic dialogue and create complex people. It’s not for everyone, but if you like literary novels and campus narratives, this one’s for you.
Publishes January 30
‘A Love Song For Ricki Wilde’ by Tia Williams
People have been clamoring for a follow-up to Seven Days in June, and from early reviews, we are in for another total treat from Tia Williams. This one has a fairy tale feel and some magical realism — sign me up immediately for this. What do we know about it? It centers on Ricki Wilde, her family’s black sheep who just wants to escape their wealth and notoriety. When she moves to Harlem to open a small flower shop, something pretty amazing happens on Leap Year. I cannot wait for this.
Publishes February 6
‘Missing White Woman’ by Kellye Garrett
Breanna goes on a romantic getaway to New York City with her new boyfriend, Ty. And everything is going better than great until the final morning, when she wakes up to find her love interest has disappeared and a dead woman in the foyer — and not just any woman. It’s the missing white woman that the entire country has been looking for for weeks. Now Breanna has to get out of a very big mess, and the only way to do it is to solve the mystery. This is from the author of Like A Sister and we won’t be missing it this spring.
Publishes April 30
‘Broughtupsy’ by Christina Cooke
Twenty-year-old Akúa travels from her home in Canada back to her childhood home of Jamaica. Her brother recently died of sickle-cell anemia, and she’s on a mission to spread his ashes in some of his favorite places — but that involves revisiting a complicated past. On the trip, Akúa will try to reconnect with her estranged sister, visit her childhood homes, and make some eye-opening discoveries about her sexuality along the way. Will not miss this debut for sure.
Publishes January 24
‘When I Think Of You’ by Myah Ariel
Two of my favorite things: a debut author and a second-chance romance! Kaliya and Danny met in film school and had a hot-but-disastrous romance. Now, years later, he’s flourishing in the movie industry and she’s stuck in a rut, but he asks her to come work on his newest production. What happens next could make or break Kaliya’s love life and her career.
Publishes April 16
‘The Partner Plot’ by Kristina Forest
After last year’s The Neighbor Favor, Kristina Forest brings us her next adorable romance. This time, she’s giving us three amazing tropes: second chance romance, a drunken Vegas wedding, and a marriage of convenience. Stylist Violet and basketball coach Xavier are together because they think it will help their careers, but both of them start to catch feelings — will it work out? Yes, very likely. Will I still read this? Definitely yes.
Publishes February 27
‘So Let Them Burn’ by Kamilah Cole
If you’ve read Fourth Wing and Iron Flame but still need more high-fantasy dragon stories featuring powerful women, you’ve come to the right place. This YA offering is inspired by Jamaican stories and centers on two sisters who are fighting for their lives and their homeland.
Publishes January 16
‘One Of Us Knows’ by Alyssa Cole
If you enjoyed When No One Is Watching, you have another delight headed your way: the latest mystery and suspense thriller from Alyssa Cole. This time, a group of people are stranded in a historic home as a storm descends upon them — and one person ends up dead. The main suspect is also the main character, a woman named Kenetria who has dissociative identity disorder.
Publishes April 16
‘This Could Be Us’ by Kennedy Ryan
Last year Kennedy Ryan won my heart and became one of my favorite romance authors with her book Before I Let Go. Now, she continues the series while focusing on another strong woman from that cast of characters, Soledad. A newly single mom, Soledad is grieving the life she thought she would have while trying to continue to support her daughters and thrive in her career. But when she meets an unlikely love interest, she has to try to heal from her last relationship and decide if she can trust again. I can’t wait to return to this world!
Publishes March 5
‘The House of Plain’ Truth by Donna Hemans
Who is here for the sweeping generational sags? This one travels from Brooklyn to Jamaica to Cuba as a one woman tracks down her estranged relatives and copes with her family’s troubled and mysterious past. Inspired by the author’s own family story, this literary fiction is a beautiful and complex read about what it is to be related.
Publishes January 30
‘Pardon My Frenchie’ by Farrah Rochon
This looks so cute. Ashanti Wright owns a successful dog boarding business and wants to open a new dog cafe, too. But her plan is being thwarted by Thaddeus Sims, who let’s just say is not a dog person. But when Thaddeus has to adopt his grandmother’s dog, Puddin’, when she moves to a senior care center, it forces him closer to Ashanti and her business. Please, give me all of the love stories about humans who fall in love after their pets do.
Publishes on June 4
‘One of Our Kind’ by Nicola Yoon
Okay, this one just sounds scary. Jasmyn and King Williams decide to move their family to an all-Black-owned utopia, where they believe they will be able to raise their family somewhere safe and among a community that looks just like them. But Jasmyn qiuckly realizes that something isn’t right, and that there might be something very sinister happening behind the scenes. This is also Yoon’s first adult fiction books and her first stab at a thriller. Count me in.
Publishes on June 11
‘Little Rot’ by Akwaeke Emezi
From the author of You Made A Fool Of Death With Your Beauty and The Death of Vivek Oji comes a new stunner. Little Rot is a thriller that starts with a sex party that goes terribly awry, plunging five of the participants into the Nigerian underground where they’ll have to depend on each other to get out unscathed. Akwaeke Emezi is known for their daring, dark, and deviant plots, and it looks like we can expect another thrilling ride with this one.
Publishes June 18