Washington Area Women's Foundation

15 Soul-Feeding Reads for Black History Month

As we celebrate the richness and resilience of Black history, we’re excited to share some of our staff’s favorite reads by Black women authors that will feed your soul this Black History Month.

Our curated selection of books showcase the brilliance and diversity of Black voices, spanning genres and perspectives that explore the beauty, complexities, and triumphs of the Black experience.

From compelling novels to thought-provoking essays, these reads invite you to celebrate, reflect, and engage with narratives that inspire and empower.

Happy reading!

Black Cake – Charmaine Wilkerson

Black Cake revolves around Benny and Byron, siblings who come together following their mother’s recent death. In the wake of her passing, they discover an unusual inheritance: a frozen black cake stored in the refrigerator and a recorded revelation from their mother, unveiling the untold truths of her past and origins.

The Body is Not an Apology – Sonya Renee Taylor

In this powerful manifesto, Sonya Renee Taylor challenges societal norms, advocating for radical self-love and urging readers to embrace their bodies and dismantle the shame and discrimination perpetuated by conventional beauty standards.

Break the Cycle – Dr. Mariel Boque

In this empowering resource, Buqué enlightens readers on the transmission of trauma across generations and offers insight into breaking this cycle through practical therapeutic approaches. She also encourages readers to navigate mental health with resilience and strength, challenging stigmas and fostering a culture of understanding and support.

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement – Barbara Ransby

In this definitive biography, Barbara Ransby traces the extensive and multifaceted career of Ella Baker’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, offering insights into her activism and leadership that shaped the course of history.

The House of Eve – Sadeqa Johnson

Set in the 1940s-1950s, this book follows two protagonists, Ruby and Eleanor, in alternating first-person and third-person limited perspectives. Exploring second chances and the influence of gender, racism, and poverty on choices, the novel weaves through three generations of women, highlighting the enduring strength of familial bonds and shared pasts.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body – Roxane Gay

This powerful memoir explores Gay’s experiences with trauma, body image, and self-worth. Through her intimate exploration, she invites readers into her journey towards self-acceptance, offering a poignant reflection on the complexities of the human experience.

Indigo – Beverly Jenkins

Set in the American West, Beverly Jenkins weaves a passionate romance in “Indigo,” a celebration of love and resilience amid the challenges of historical context. Hester Wyatt, a former slave turned Underground Railroad member, encounters the wounded “Black Daniel,” a crucial figure in the North’s Underground network. Despite initial clashes, as Galen Vachon heals in Hester’s care, a deep connection blossoms. The story unfolds against the backdrop of traitors, slave catchers, and the quest for true love, emphasizing the strength of Black individuals in the face of adversity.

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good – adrienne maree brown

adrienne maree brown’s groundbreaking collection of essays challenges conventional notions of activism. In advocating for joy, pleasure, and love as essential components of social justice work, brown encourages readers to embrace self-care as a radical force for positive change.

Raybearer – Jordan Ifueko

This captivating fantasy novel follows the journey of Tarisai, a young girl navigating self-discovery and political intrigue. Set in a richly imagined world, Ifueko weaves a tale of magic, relationships, and the power of identity.

Soothe Your Nerves – Angela Neal-Barnett

This comprehensive guide, tailored specifically for Black women, provides insights and practical strategies for understanding and overcoming anxiety, panic, and fears, addressing mental health with a culturally sensitive approach.

Thicker Than Water – Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington’s memoir intricately explores family complexities and concealed secrets, touching on themes of identity, loyalty, and the pursuit of truth. Providing an intimate look into her public and private roles as a mother, daughter, wife, artist, advocate, and trailblazer, Washington shares her journey of overcoming challenges, childhood traumas, finding mentors, and achieving success. She also inspires readers to seek their true selves, fostering authenticity, connection, and a sense of belonging.

Walk Through Fire – Sheila Johnson

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sheila Johnson shares her remarkable journey in “Walk Through Fire.” This inspiring memoir emphasizes the importance of perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges, offering valuable lessons on navigating adversity with strength and grace.

The Wedding Date – Jasmine Guillory

In this delightful romantic comedy this story revolves around Alexa Monroe and Drew Nichols, who embark on a fake date that turns into unexpected fun and feelings. As high-powered professionals in different cities, they navigate the challenges of a long-distance relationship, exploring the collision between their careers and personal desires.

What We Lose – Zinzi Clemmons

In this book, Clemmons explores loss, identity, and cultural belonging as a young woman copes with her mother’s battle with breast cancer. Published in 2017, the novel employs experimental techniques, offering an intimate portrayal of grief and self-discovery.

The Window Seat – Aminatta Forna

The Window Seat is a diverse collection of essays that explores displacement, trauma, memory, love, and our relationship with the non-human world. In this collection, Forna intimately discusses themes of travel, identity, and the human experience, taking readers on a captivating journey that prompts thought and self-discovery in our interconnected world.