Summer is the perfect time to catch up on all those books you put on your list at the beginning of the year. No judgment over here because you are not alone. But that’s the great thing about lazy summer nights and days. They’re the perfect time to pour yourself a glass of sangria and pull out that book you’ve been meaning to get around to. If reading more is on your summer bucket list, I have a few suggestions that should definitely make the cut. Consider these as the quintessential books that every black woman should read at least once. And you know what they say, no time like the present.
1. They’re Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston. This one almost goes without saying but if you don’t know, now you know. This is one of those books that exquisitely captures the beautiful complexities of womanhood. There’s gossip, love, loss, trials, triumphs, friendship, marriage, and everything in between. Read this on those warm summer nights when the sun goes down.
2. I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing – Maya Angelou. Another classic for the list and one I’m sure we’ve all either read in full or have read enough excerpts to feel like we have. This memoir serves up inspiration like no other and is one of those that can be read many times with the same magic as the first, but a new lesson every time.
3. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf – Ntozake Shange. You may have seen the movie that was based on this book but to read this choreopoem is an experience of its own. This intricate fusion of both choreography and poetry tells the painful stories and experiences through the lens of colored women. This one is a bit heavy but it’s definite must read for women of color.
4. Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person – Shonda Rhimes. Normally I wouldn’t suggest any self-help, business, or career related reads during the relaxing months of the summer but Year of Yes is my one exception. This is a quick and relatable read that provides a real life, in depth perspective on what happens when you “do it afraid”. Read this towards the end of your summer to get you pumped for the year ahead.
5. God Help the Child – Toni Morrison. So let me preface this by saying that I know there are countless works by Ms. Morrison that I could have put on this list but I thought her latest work deserved a place here. While there are some mixed reviews, God Help the Child is a great introduction to Toni Morrison’s work and is a captivating story of a successful black woman loving her black skin amongst so much more. It’s an easy read and worth the time. Definitely, give this one a try.