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10 Black Beach Reads

BeachreadIt’s that time of year. Time to pack a bag, pick a good book and head off to a sunny locale.

However, summer isn’t off to a great start. My Twitter timeline blew up last week as a number of influential, literature-loving publications unveiled their summer reading lists. Like many others I was amazed at how strikingly white the lists were, especially when so many incredible books have been released in 2015 by writers of colour. So here’s the remedy, 10 book suggestions designed to compliment sun-loungers across the globe. Don’t forget your sunscreen.

The plot for Dorothy Koomson’s tenth novel, That Girl From Nowhere, is deliciously cryptic. All the blurb reveals is that Clemency Smittson was adopted as a child and goes looking for her birth parents only to encounter secrets and uncover shocking events that soon make her reconsider the wisdom of disturbing the past. If you’ve ever read a Koomson novel before the phrase ‘new release’ will be invitation enough, if you haven’t, trust me, Dorothy Koomson has a brilliant way with psychological thrillers.

If crime novels are more your speed then pick up, Skies of Ash, book two in Rachel Howzell Hall’s gripping new series. Detective Lou Norton is called in when a house is razed to the ground killing an LA mother and her two children. Did her rich broker husband do it? Was it suicide? Lou’s day job is tough enough thanks to being a woman in a man’s world and a black person in an institution hated by an over-policed black population. But this case manages to coincide with an extremely rough patch in her marriage making Lou doubt whether she has the chops to solve this mystery.

Bernice L. McFadden’s beloved romance tale, Loving Donovan is being reissued this summer. If you haven’t met Cambell and Donovan, two people battered by their childhoods and trying to find their way to love, then now’s the perfect time.

Americanah has scooped up a ton of awards and is on its way to becoming a film with Selma’s David Oyelowo and the transcendent Lupita Nyong’o. You’re missing out if you haven’t read the funny and provocative story of two Nigerian sweethearts. It’s the third novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Toni Morrison’s God Help The Child is spare but powerful. It tells the story of Bride, a blue-black child born to a pale-skinned mother who is unable to love her and whose rejection fans out across the length of Bride’s life.

Oprah Winfrey has selected Cynthia Bond’s Ruby for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, and no wonder. The narrative of a girl misused throughout her life until she unravels has been called ‘luminous’.

On the subject of Oprah, her collection of essays, What I Know For Sure, was released last autumn, but it’s so uplifting and refreshing that it deserves to be packed in every beach bag this summer. The essays cover 14 years in Oprah’s life and reveal the learnings she took away from experiences both good and terrible. There’s so much wisdom packed into this slim volume as well as the peek we get into the magnificent world of Oprah.

Issa Rae is well on her way to building her own media empire. Since making a name for herself with her web series about an introverted, awkward black girl, she’s developed a television series with Shonda Rhimes, created a half-hour comedy for HBO, and launched Color Creative, an initiative that produces and distributes content from creators of color. Her biography The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a mixture of revelation, self-reflection and frank perspective.

A teen girl goes missing from the historical town of Pleasantville on election night. When she turns up dead the grandson of the mayoral candidate and town’s patriarch is charged with her murder. Jay Porter is on the cusp of retirement but finds himself defending the accused in this highly sophisticated thriller. Author Attica Locke has been making it rain as producer on the feted TV series, Empire, Pleasantville is the sequel to her widely acclaimed novel, Black Water Rising.

If you like your romance in dainty truffle-sized bites, then visit Ankara Press. They’re searching out the best in contemporary African writing, and their stories feature young, independent women who work, play and fall madly in love in vibrant African cities. Their Valentine’s Day anthology is currently available for free download so move fast.

1. The Girl From Nowhere – Dorothy Koomson

2. Skies of Ash – Rachel Howzell Hall

3. Loving Donovan – Bernice L. McFadden

4. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

5. God Help The Child – Toni Morrison

6. Ruby – Cynthia Bond

7. What I Know For Sure – Oprah Winfrey

8. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl  – Issa Rae

9. Pleasantville – Attica Locke

10. Ankara Press

Have I missed a great beach read? Please share your suggestions.


  1. tamekamullins says

    These are some great selections. Thanks! I’m loading up my Kindle now. Happy Summer Reading!


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