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15 Books That Every Black Woman Should Own

15 Books that every Black Woman Should Own


I’ve been an avid reader since childhood. But I didn’t really realize that there were books about girls, women, and people who look like me until around the 6th grade.  It was a transitional year for me since I switched schools in the middle of the year. Every day after school, I waited in the library by my school for my mother to pick me up. And while I waited, I discovered a small section of the library full of stories and ideas and information about black people.  It was…life changing. I can tell you that that semester of school, I devoured almost everything in that section.  And that summer,

It was…life changing. I can tell you that that semester of school, I devoured almost everything in that section.  And that summer,

I can tell you that that semester of school, I devoured almost everything in that section.  And that summer, I finished the rest. That was when my habit of reading a book in a day began. That was when I started to spend all of my allowance on books. That was the year my love of books was solidified.

So I’ve read every book on this list. Many many times.  And so I can honestly recommend them all.  Some are not my favorites of the author’s but they are important and I feel like that should be read at least once.  I feel like these books should be on every bookshelf of every black woman. These are 15 books that every black woman should own.  This is by no means a comprehensive list.  After all, there are only 15 books on it.  But I hope it sparks your interest, provides a starting point.

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15 Books That Every Black Woman Should Own

1. A Raisin in the Sun By Lorraine Hansberry

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

3. Sister Outsider  By Audre Lorde

4. Waiting To Exhale  by Terry McMillan

5.The Street By Ann Petry 


6. I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing By Maya Angelou

7. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

8.The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

9. The Color Purple By Alice Walker

10. What looks like crazy on an ordinary Day By Pearl Cleage

11. For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf By Ntozake Shange

12. Nappily Ever After  By Trisha R Thomas

13. Ain’t I A Woman By Bell Hooks

14. Kindred By Octavia Butler

15. In Search of Satisfaction By J California Cooper


Like I said in the beginning, this is by no means the lists of all lists. But I feel like these 15 books are a start. There are several more fiction and nonfiction that I think everyone should own, or at least read. Maybe that’s for another post at another time. In the meantime, in the comments, tell me what books resonated with you? What book is the one that opened your eyes, made you laugh or cry, enlightened you , or just made you feel good?

Sound off in the comments!

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  • Reply
    February 3, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I read 6 of these books. I will commit to reading the others. Great list!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I’ve read 11 of these and will def add the others to my TBR. This is a great list, LaShawn!

    • Reply
      February 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Yay! Thank you!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I’ve read a few of these. Great list. I loved Waiting to Exhale and The Color Purple.. I need to check out Nappily ever after and The Bluest Eye. They sound like great reads. Thanks for the heads up! :-).

  • Reply
    February 3, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Snuggling up on the couch is one of my favorite things to do! ‘Waiting to Exhale’ and ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ were two of the first books I had ever read by African American authors, and I have been hooked ever since. “Kinder’ in on my kindle now waiting to be read.

  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    February 4, 2017 at 9:42 am

    I’ve only read a few of these. I obviously have some catching up to do. I’m going to try audio books because it is hard finding a home for all of the books I own.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Truth be told, I haven’t read any of these here. I’ve seen that two that are movies, but I just don’t read many novels. Maybe I’ll read some.

  • Reply
    Courtney CJ
    February 5, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    I love a great book. I haven’t read all of these so I will definitely put them on my Goodreads list. My goal for February is to read 3 books and / or read 30 minutes a day (since I’m working on less phone screen time). Thanks for the reminder! 😉

  • Reply
    Kirstin Fuller
    February 5, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Great list. I’ve read only a few of these. I need to get to it. ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ is one of my favorites.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    For many of these books I’ve seen the movie or play but have not read the book. I think this list is a good place to start for some one who wants to read more.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I’ve never read ANY of these books >_<. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll be adding them to my list

  • Reply
    Tiffany H.
    February 7, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I love to read and have been an avid reader since I was a little child. My mom was always calling me to come and I was usually somewhere reading a book. I need to catch up and read several of these books.

  • Reply
    Currently in My Life.... - Everyday Eyecandy
    February 24, 2017 at 6:53 am

    […] LOT of things. LOL. But I’m re-reading an old favorite that I had on my list 15 Books that Every Black Woman Should Own.  Kindred By Octavia Butler. I would have already been finished, but my mother hijacked it when […]

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