11 Life Lessons From Books by Our Favorite Black Authors

Picking up these inspiring reads is a great way to celebrate Black History Month.

February marks the observance of Black History Month in the United States, during which we celebrate and honor the legacy of black leaders, scientists, artists, writers, activists, musicians, and more. Reading their work is a profound way to expand our knowledge of the world, and expose ourselves to different perspectives. Here are a selection of books — with meaningful takeaways — by our favorite black authors that can (and should) be enjoyed year-round.


An American Marriage
By Tayari Jones

This book was on Barack Obama’s 2018 most inspiring reads list for a reason. Through an intimate portrait of its characters’ lives, Jones depicts not only the dissolution of a relationship but also how to heal and move forward.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
By Maya Angelou

In Angelou’s timeless coming of age story, we learn about the importance of staying true to yourself, and how we can fight to overcome trauma. Angelou inspires us all to be unapologetically ourselves, even in the face of stress and adversity. 

We Should All Be Feminists
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie discusses why gender equality should matter to everyone, and reminds us of the importance of our interactions with colleagues, and the effects they may have day to day. 

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky 
By Lesley Nneka Arimah

This short story collection explores the bond between family members. Heartbreak and vulnerability are two common threads, but weaved throughout many of the stories is the reminder to hold those you care about close, especially during times of loneliness. 

Splay Anthem
By Nathaniel Mackey 

Tossing readers into a world where music and poetry merge, Mackey tells the story of two characters traveling through space and time. Through their journey, we learn what it means to feel inspired.

By Michelle Obama

The former First Lady’s memoir provides us with an extensive list of life lessons, touching on topics from family and childhood to self-worth and purpose.

Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart
By Alice Walker

A collection of nearly 70 poems, Walker’s latest work navigates self-love, identity, hope, purpose, and gratitude. Not only does she capture the complexity of our world as it is, she sets forward a vision of what it can be. 

Their Eyes Were Watching God
By Zora Neale Hurston

Hurston’s novel chronicles the life of an independent woman, Janie, as she discovers herself through love and purpose. It’s a lesson to all of us on the power of self-actualization.

Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone
By James Baldwin

This story chronicles the life of a young man named Leo at the height of his theatrical career who then experiences a sudden heart attack. Baldwin helps us see that while the path to success is not always easy, we must remain resilient in the face of what life tosses in our way.  

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

Morrison’s latest is a collection of perspectives on art, identity, power, and purpose. Her musings on social and cultural issues show us how to return to our own humanity even during difficult moments.

No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free In America
By Darnell Moore

In his memoir, Moore shows that no matter how difficult, we can overcome tragedy with joy and power.

This article was originally published on Thrive Global.

Words: Clarice Metzger
Photography: Suad Kamardeen

FEBRUARY 24, 2019

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