Well-Read Black Girl and the power of books

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves edited by Glory Edim

3 words: literary, #ownvoices, personal

Hello, readers. We’re here because we love the written word and because we know books have the power to change lives. And we understand the power of books as mirrors and windows — reflecting our own lives and giving us insight into the lives of others. 

Well-Read Black Girl is all about the importance of books as mirrors. And since it’s filled with essays written by Black women authors, it’s also about the role books can play in building a literary life. 

Here you’ll find essays by Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, N. K. Jemisin, Stephanie Powell Watts, and many other Black authors who write about their love of reading and their experiences of finding in a book (often after a long wait) someone who reflected their own experience. 

Or for Tayari Jones, who writes, “As a baby, I teethed on board books featuring children explaining how much they loved eating vegetables and being black” (p. 23), it wasn’t so much about experiencing a lack of representation in the books she read as a young person. Instead, books provide a way to deeply explore questions about life as a Black woman. The way she writes about her experience of feeling challenged and exposed by ideas in a novel she re-read… it’s like an ode to the power of literature.

Since the authors of these essays are people devoted to the written word, the writing is by turns lovely, powerful, frank and lyrical–often all within the same essay. I was tempted to read one right after the other, but I tried to pause between essays to hold the thoughts for a while. 

If you, too, are on a journey to read more #ownvoices books, this book is a wonderful source of recommendations. Throughout the book, you’ll find lists of books on topics like “Well-Read Black Girl Recommends: Science Fiction and Fantasy Books by Black Women.” And at the end, there’s a list of all the books mentioned in the entire book. 

Your TBR will thank you for reading this book. (I lost count of how many books I added.) 

Glory Edim, the creator of this book, is the founder of the Well-Read Black Girl book club, https://www.wellreadblackgirl.com/  a book club dedicated to Black women writers. Her website and Instagram are great sources for reading ideas. 

Give this book a whirl if you like… #ownvoices narratives, essays about the power of finding oneself in books, the love of reading, books as mirrors, Black women and literature, books that contain lists of other recommended books

What #ownvoices books are you reading these days? 

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