Hidden Shelf
Feb 25, 2020
12 min read

Black History Month: Adult Book List

Earlier this month I talked about some of the things I look for when choosing picture books for my kids. I apply much of the same concepts when choosing books for myself, and that includes diverse representation.

• Diverse representation in characters
• Diverse representation in authors
• Diverse representation in content
AND I also look for books with content that specifically raises awareness about topics of diversity, social justice, and racial inequality.

Again, I will challenge you to allow Black History Month to serve as a starting point for examining books with diverse representations and minority voices and adding them into your everyday reading. But don’t let the exploring and the inclusion of African American and minority stories stop at the end of February, continue to add these books to your “To Be Read Lists”.

Here are a few books published in the last couple of years that are on my TBR list and that I would like to highlight this month:

Becoming, Michelle Obama

I started this book in the audiobook format. I’ve mentioned before that audiobooks help me get more household chores done, run more miles, and complete more books. This book has me searching for chores to do and closets to clean, just so I can keep listening. Bonus: the author, Michelle Obama, reads the audiobook! I Love it.

Send Judah First, Brian C. Johnson

One of the profound truths about books is that they allow the “untold” stories to be told. Stories of peoples forgotten, erased, or unknown can be brought to light through the pages of a book. Send Judah First reveals the story of an enslaved cook, once forgotten and nearly erased from history. Her story, through the imaginative historical fiction of Brian C. Johnson, is brought to light for all to know and remember.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, Damon Young

Memories about the author’s life growing up in Pittsburgh; this book appealed to me for several reasons. 1. My husband and I lived near Pittsburgh for a few years while he was in school and I explored a lot of the city and I have a fondness for Western PA because of that time. However, I lived a very different experience as a temporary resident soaking in as much of life in PGH as possible. I came and left and I didn’t experience the changes, gentrifications, and racial and social-economic disparity that is a part of the history of Pittsburgh and actively a part of the culture today. 2. Hidden Shelf author, Brian C. Johnson, is also from Western PA, about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. I always think it is interesting to make these “connections” with authors.

The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditation, Toni Morrison

I don’t feel like this choice needs much of an explanation. When a legend like Toni Morrison graces the literary world with another book, you bet that is getting added to my TBR list.

Confessions of Frannie Langton, Sara Collins

I am quickly trying to work through my current books, so that I can start on this one. The premise of the book is so intriguing. A murder mystery set in London, involving a former slave and her masters. One review mentioned that it “echos” Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood), which is one of my favorite books. Having only read the reviews so far, it also reminds of the Native Son (Richard Wright), another excellent and influential read.

How To Not Get Shot: And Other Advice From White People, D.L. Hughley

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele.

I have added both of these titles to my TBR list this month; both of these books, though very different, felt like must-read books because of the current political, social, racial attitude/environment/atmosphere/ in the United States. Books help us stay informed, gain perspective, and view events through a lens that is different than our own. The ability of books doing that should not be underestimated.

Trailblazer, Dorothy Butler Gilliam

“A memoir by the first black woman at The Washington Post.” This book follows her 60-year career, shows how the media has changed over time, demonstrates how far civil rights and racial equality have come, and how far we still have to go–particularly pertaining to media representation and inclusiveness of all Americans.


Written by Rachel Wickstrom 

Rachel Wickstrom coordinates marketing at Hidden Shelf Publishing house. She’s an avid reader, master party-planner, craft enthusiast, a mom to two young boys with wildly long hair, and is married to a hospital chaplain. As an Oregon native, Rachel’s childhood memories are scented with juniper berries and the crisp mountain air of Central Oregon. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho where her days are scented with lukewarm coffee, and spilled snacks.

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