12 Books to Read During Black History Month

Black History Month is a time to celebrate Black voices and stories while committing to furthering one’s education on Anti-Racism. While this is an ongoing journey and not one that should end when February does, we gathered 12 must-reads for book lovers looking to engage with Black authors and experiences. Whether you enjoy novels, non-fiction, or celebrity memoirs, we’ve got you covered. If you’re looking to buy any of the books below, consider supporting black-owned bookstores, either local to your community or online!  

# 1 – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

One of Oprah’s Best Books of the Year, Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation. Buy now

# 2 – The Color Purple by Alice Walker

With a new film adaptation in theaters, now is the perfect time to read this critically acclaimed novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. The novel tells a beautiful story of pain, redemption, and hope – following two sisters in rural Georgia and spanning 20 years. The Color Purple broke down barriers around conversations of abuse and is heralded as a touchstone of classic American literature. Buy now

# 3 – Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a memoir of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her time spent at the world's most famous address. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations - and whose story inspires us to do the same. Buy now

# 4 – The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson

A recent pick of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson follows the story of two women, Ruby and Eleanor, in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC as they navigate what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal. Buy now

# 5 – The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

You can’t have a list on Black literature without including text by James Baldwin, a key voice of the Civil Rights Movement and acclaimed writer and essayist. Often considered a seminal text, The Fire Next Time is a must-read for understanding race in America today. Buy now

# 6 – Conversations With Myself by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is widely considered to be one of the most inspiring and iconic figures of our age. After a lifetime of taking pen to paper to record thoughts and events, hardships and victories, he bestowed his entire extant personal papers in 2010, which offer an unprecedented insight into his remarkable life. Buy now

# 7 – The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

When he discovers that his beat-up, family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, Ray McMillian’s dreams suddenly seem within reach. But when the violin is stolen, and a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place, Ray feels like he’s lost a piece of himself. As the competition approaches, Ray must not only reclaim his precious violin, but prove to himself—and the world—that no matter the outcome, there has always been a truly great musician within him. Buy now

# 8 – The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

With his masterly storytelling skills and his deep faith in humanity, James McBride portrays a small town in 1970s Pennsylvania and the secrets that the town holds. A New York Times Bestseller, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store shows us that even in dark times, love and community always remain true. Buy now

# 9 – Erasure by Percival Everett

There has never been a better time to read Percival Everett's biting and witty novel as it hits theaters in a film adaptation titled American Fiction. Erasure is a blistering satire following struggling writer Thelonious Monk Ellison and his unexpected and unintended success. How Monk deals with the personal and professional challenges his success presents galvanizes this audacious, hysterical, and quietly devastating novel. Buy now

# 10 – The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

Danielle Evans is widely acclaimed for her blisteringly smart voice and X-ray insights into complex human relationships. In The Office of Historical Corrections she introduces us to Black and multiracial characters who are experiencing the universal confusions of lust and love, and getting walloped by grief - all while exploring how history haunts us, personally and collectively. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history - about who gets to tell them, and the cost of setting the record straight. Buy now

# 11 – Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched, and beautifully written narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives of American life today. Buy now

# 12 – I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Saving the best for last – you simply must read this book. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. It is so poetic and powerful. Maya learned that through self-love, the kindness of others, and her own strong spirit, she would find freedom. Buy now

If you (like most) can’t read twelve books in one calendar month, consider this list a jumping-off point in your ongoing commitment to diversifying your reading list. Want more? Penguin Random House put out an expanded list of this month’s essential reading and the National Museum of African American History and Culture has published a list of ways you can thoughtfully celebrate Black History Month this year.

Career Group Companies

LinkedIn logo

Founded in 1981 by Susan Levine, Career Group Companies was created to set a higher standard for recruiting. For over four decades, we’ve partnered with our valued candidates and clients to cultivate perfect career matches for administrative, creative, fashion, events, and executive professionals at top companies nationwide.

Land your dream job

Getting your foot in the door with an amazing company can be a challenge. Our recruiting experts are ready to help you land your next dream role.

Browse Jobs

Hire your dream team

With over 40 years of recruitment experience, we know we can help. We can offer insight into market rates and long-term team structuring, while acting as your strategic hiring partners.

Hire Talent