14 Books to Add to Your Library


It’s the time of year where most of us prefer to stay inside enveloped in the comforting warmth of our bed linens. But when TGIT takes its usual winter hiatus and Black-ish (and all of our other favorite shows) season ends, boredom creeps in and fast. Instead of letting your desperation for adventure drag you out on a cold winter night, grab some hot cocoa (or wine) and cozy up with one of the 14 books we think all book lovers would love to have as staples in their libraries.


CR Citizen

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

At the recommendation of our very own Solange, this book of essays and poetry is easily a must for everyone. Black women will find identity validation, Black men will find understanding and also be understood, all men and women of color will find relatability. With prose so genuinely spent, Claudia Rankine makes a nations of her words to which we are citizens.


NW nejma

nejma by Nayyirah Waheed’s

Few poets have a universally comprehendible voice but Nayyirah is always crystal clear. In a way that touches everything beautiful, even where it hurts, this collection of poems is just as deep as its very popular predecessor salt. Nayyirah Waheed is an unfailing deliverer of feels every time and nejma is proof.


WS Mother Birth

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

There are poets, and then there’s Warsan Shire; first of her name, tugger of heartstrings, provoker of introspection. You don’t have to be a poetry lover to find deep adoration and respect for this collection because her words are acrid and holy like communion wine. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth exposes wisdom, explores survival and expresses heart all beautifully entangled in the lace of ink webs masterfully crafted by Shire’s pen.


YDW bone

bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Inspiringly relatable, Yrsa’s poetry voices the acknowledgement and validity. The transparency of exposed darkness is clothed in pretty, but still effective, verses that pack empowering womanly sass.


JA no order

in no particular order by Jaycina Almond

With brevity and direct intention, Jaycina expresses poetic sentiments about creativity, motherhood, inner-confidence and love. Meritorious bravery leaks from the pages, each of which pack a mic-dropping point. The longest poem is less than a paragraph long, and that’s really all you need considering the deliberate impact of the emotionally profound weight of each verse.




BB Mothers

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Bennett’s genius narration as a church mother is the literary tea-spilling session we all need. Through the eyes of a Californian, Bible-toting congregation member, Nadia Turner is seen as a trouble-making, fast and rambunctious teen who snapped after her mother randomly committed suicide. From the summer following her high school graduation through college and law school, a deep truth about her secret with her boyfriend’s ministry-related mother and father results in the church’s downfall. Brit Bennett’s The Mothers is the guilty pleasure gossip book that you won’t be able to put down.


ZS On Beauty

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Her latest novel ‘Swing Time’ is on sale in the Saint Heron shop so we’re assuming you already have that one. And since I can’t resist Smith’s authoritatively meticulous storytelling style, I’m recommending (personal repeat fave) ‘On Beauty.’ The Belseys are a proud and prestigious family, though it seems. That façade slowly collapses as the story unfolds with a metaphoric truthful stare at what is commonly regarded as attractive in its many layers (physically, materially, spiritually, etc.). Family rivalries, infidelities, personal insecurities and false identities intermix in a page-turning, Zadie style drama.


AF Turner House

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Admittedly, I didn’t know a thing about this book until I saw Issa reading it in a Season 2 episode of Insecure. Flournoy is also now collaborating with Issa on a ‘90s Los Angeles-set drama series for HBO. But The Turner House is a must-read story about a family who is called back to reality by their mother’s illness. A family home on Yarrow Street (in Detroit) resembles those of the many millennial transplants in big cities today. The 13 Turner children, for the sake of their now aging matriarch, are left to decide whether or not to preserve the family staple.


MJ Brief Hist Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

A fictional story based on true events, Marlon James takes readers on a journey that spans years and countries. From corruption in Kingston, Jamaica to drug trafficking in Miami, Florida, this engaging and exciting story is like reading a movie. Plus, since our girl Melina Matsoukas is working on a series adaption of this tale in collaboration with James himself, all book-to-screen fanatics know you have to read the book first.


JB Beale St

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

A classic (and also the blueprint for a forthcoming Barry Jenkins film), If Beale Street Could Talk is just one of James Baldwin’s roster of compelling novels. Baldwin’s voicing for the story’s main character and narrator Tish make this romantic tale one that sticks. A young couple determined to stay together against challenging and unjust odds endure an unbearable imposition of despair while maintaining their devotion to each other’s unchanging love.




RG Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

A collection of essays that explore some of Gay’s truest sentiments feels like catching up with one of your homegirls that hasn’t been in touch in a few years. Personally, reading these essays was like looking in a brand new mirror for the first time (where you recognize yourself but now with new/more detail). Whether or not you agree with all the points she makes, you get a clearly-stated and logically based perspective of culture, entertainment and Black womanhood. I also highly recommend Difficult Women and Hunger from her as well.


AL Burst of Light

A Burst of Light: and Other Essays by Audre Lorde

One doesn’t need a description to keep this fearless pioneer’s work in his/her library. Audre Lorde is the literary god-mother of all things Black. A poet, essayist and activist, Lorde’s work is still highly regarded (and relevant) today. This latest edition of the timeless A Burst of Light includes foreword from Sonia Sanchez. Easy must-have.


AO Moonless, Starless

A Moonless, Starless Sky by Alexis Okeowo

Journalist and author Alexis Okeowo’s observations of terror and heroism embody literary portraiture. In captivatingly vivid detail, she tells the stories of various everyday people defying extreme odds. Spotlighting men and women from different countries in Africa, Okeowo’s creative nonfiction story collection is subtle encouragement to consider more of what’s beyond our immediate surroundings.


JBH Soul Looks Back

My Soul Looks Back by Jessica B Harris

As someone who is incredibly fascinated with the idea of being a writer during the Lorde, Morrison and Baldwin rise, I needed to know what that was like. Jessica B. Harris gives us a glimpse into the ultimate friend goals intimacy that comes with being a writer and activist in the ‘70s. Reading My Soul Looks Back feels like reading your favorite aunt’s recount of “the good old days.” In Harris’ memories there is love, joy, community and timeless reverence for an era that is still critical now.




ML AfFemColoring

With many people experiencing the winter blues, art therapy can be helpful. Makeda Lewis’ Avie’s Dreams: An Afro-Feminist Coloring Book, you’ll find yourself brightening up the pages of thoughtfully illustrated femininity. As the proud owner of two copies, I stand by my claim that you won’t be disappointed with what comes of your time spent in Lewis’ pages.

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