I haven’t read many books over the past few months. I’m not sure if my lack of motivation is down to the general busyness of life, the onslaught of one global crisis after another, the distracting influence of Korean dramas, or the general meh-ness that seems to have infected us all. Whatever the cause, I’ve found myself stuck in a silo, rereading my favourite authors and lacking the energy to try anything new.
It’s a cul-de-sac I’d like to escape. Like Whoopi, I’m ready to get back in the habit. To give myself a push I’ve selected 10 books that I’d like to read or listen to (hello audio books) in 2022. Since I’m obsessed with Black Joy, I’ve tried to choose titles that have more light than dark.
As I read I’ll come back and update this page with a short review of each book.
1. Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
Toronto-based teen, Voya Thomas has spent years waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass to come into their powers. She is shocked when she fails the test and leaps at an unprecedented chance to retake it. When she learns the task requires she kill her first love she is horrified. However, if she refuses or fails, every witch in her family will be stripped of their magic. Can she find a way to fulfil the test requirements without killing her chance at love?
Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian YA author and vlogger from Toronto.
2. The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
Ropa doesn’t have time to track down a missing child. She dropped out of school to become a ghost stalker and her work carrying messages from Edinburgh’s dead to the living is barely keeping a roof over the heads of her younger sister and grandmother. However, whispers suggest it’s not just one child missing, someone is sucking the life out of the neighbourhood kids and leaving empty husks. When Ropa starts investigating the disappearance she finds herself forced to call on her Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to survive the evil she uncovers, a darkness that will change her world.
T. L. Huchu (he/him) grew up in Zimbabwe but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life. He is the author of The Hairdresser of Harare and The Maestro, The Magistrate and the Mathematician.
3. ‘Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?’ by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Yinka is a thirty-something, Oxford-educated, British Nigerian woman with a well-paid job, good friends, and a mother whose favourite question seems to be: “Yinka, where is your huzband?”
The discomfort of Yinka’s singledom is compounded by:
- aunties who pray incessantly for her
- work friends who complain Yinka’s no sex rule is a turn-off for potential mates
- girlfriends who think she needs to get over her ex
- the uninspiring men in her life…
Despite the difficulties, Yinka is confident true love will find her eventually. When her cousin announces her engagement, Yinka decides to go full tilt after her dreams and launches Operation Find-A-Date for the wedding.
Author, Lizzie Damilola Blackburn was born and raised in London. She is a British-Nigerian writer who endured years of ‘where is your husband?’ questions before meeting her partner.
4. The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo
Hannah Bailey has never known her father, the Nigerian entrepreneur who had a brief relationship with her white mother. When he dies, she’s invited to Nigeria for the funeral. Though she wants to hate the man who abandoned her, it’s a chance to learn more about her Nigerian identity so she boards a flight to Lagos, Nigeria.
In Banana Island, one of Nigeria’s most affluent areas, Hannah meets the Jolades, her late father’s prestigious family–some who accept her and some who think she doesn’t belong. During the chaotic days leading up to the funeral, secrets unfold, Hannah discovers a culture she never thought she would understand or appreciate, and meets a man who steals her heart and helps her to see herself in a new light.
Jane Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada aged twelve. She has a journalism degree and works as a communications specialist and voice over actress.
5. Black Girls Must Be Magic by Jayne Allen
In part two of the Black Girls Must Die Exhausted series Tabitha Walker discovers she is pregnant. She throws herself into the world of “single mothers by choice” juggling her job, doctor’s appointments, and baby plans. She’s soon exhausted and that’s before her boss at the local news station starts getting complaints from viewers about her natural hair.
When an unexpected turn of events draws her ex-boyfriend back into her world, and the situation at work deteriorates further, Tabitha has to make some tough decisions about her and her baby’s future.
Jayne Allen is the pen name for Jaunique Sealey, a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School. Outside of writing, Jayne is a serial entrepreneur and a Harvard-trained attorney and engineer.
6. Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle
At seventeen Prince Jones has his own segment on Detroit’s popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, where he dishes out advice to the brokenhearted.
Dani isn’t checking for anybody. She’s focused on her plan: ace senior year, score a scholarship, and move to New York City to become a famous author. But her college essay keeps tripping her up and acknowledging what’s blocking her means dealing with what happened at that party a few months ago.
When the romantic DJ meets the ambitious writer, sparks fly. Prince is smitten, but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. She gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for.
Ebony LaDelle is a marketer by day and storyteller by night.
7. Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, told the story of Sogolon the Moon Witch and Tracker as they battled to find a missing boy across a mythical African landscape. The highly anticipated sequel presents Sogolon’s version of events. It traces the 177 year-old-witch’s triumphs and failures as she searches for the boy, her reasons for challenging Aesi, the powerful chancellor to the king and the resulting century-long feud.
It’s part adventure tale, part chronicle of a formidable woman who bows to no man.
Marlon James is an award-winning Jamaican writer. He is the author of five novels: John Crow’s Devil, The Book of Night Women, A Brief History of Seven Killings, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, and Moon Witch, Spider King.
8. In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lola Akinmade Åkerström
Three Black women find their lives linked to the same influential white man in Stockholm.
Successful marketing executive Kemi Adeyemi has been lured from the U.S. to Sweden by Jonny von Lundin, CEO of the nation’s largest marketing firm, to help fix a racially tone-deaf campaign. Kemi sees the move as a final effort to salvage her love life.
A chance meeting with Jonny in business class propels former model-turned-flight-attendant Brittany-Rae Johnson into a life of wealth, luxury, and privilege. Is she being fetishized? Should she care?
Refugee Muna Saheed works hard cleaning the toilets at Jonny’s office as she tries to establish her residency in Sweden and find a place to call home.
Lola Akinmade Åkerström is a Nigerian-American author, speaker, and photographer based in Sweden.
9. Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu
Onyeka has a lot of hair – the kind that makes strangers stop in the street. She’s always felt uncomfortable with her copious curls, until she makes an important discovery: she can control her hair with her mind!
Her mother swiftly dispatches her to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari – children with special powers – are trained. But Onyeka and her new friends soon have their powers tested when they find themselves caught in a momentous battle between truth and lies . . .
Tọlá Okogwu is a British-Nigerian Children’s Author and Hair Care Educator.
10. Wahala by Nikki May
Ronke is dating Kayode and is dreaming of babies and forever. Her friends think he’s just another in a long line of dodgy Nigerian boyfriends.
Boo has everything Ronke wants—a kind husband, gorgeous child. But she’s frustrated, unfulfilled, plagued by guilt, and desperate to remember who she used to be.
Simi lives a charmed life. No one knows she’s crippled by impostor syndrome and tempted to pack it all in each time her boss mentions her “urban vibe.” Her husband thinks they’re trying for a baby. She’s not.
When the close knit friendship is first infiltrated by the charismatic, glamorous Isobel she seems to bring out the best in each woman. But the more Isobel intervenes, the more chaos she sows, and soon the friendship begins to crack.
Born in Bristol and raised in Lagos, Nikki May is Anglo-Nigerian. Her debut novel WAHALA is due to be turned into a major TV serial.
Are you planning on reading anything new this year? Share in the comments.
I really enjoyed Wahala and Yinka, and I have In Every Mirror She’s Black TBR. I have tended to read books rooted in British and European experience, though have enjoyed some US books recently, too – Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades was really good, if you’ve not come across that one.
Thank you for the reading suggestion, Liz. I haven’t read Brown Girls so it’s another one for me to check out.