The most popular new and upcoming books by Black authors, according to Goodreads

February 2, 2021, 12:00 PM UTC

Similar to the rest of the book world, Goodreads says it has seen many more readers looking for and reading more titles by Black authors and about Black people in the past year.

Suzanne Skyvara, vice president of editorial and marketing at Goodreads, says there are three main reasons behind this. First, a desire to learn more. “We saw a huge spike of interest from our members for nonfiction books that help them learn about our country’s history of racism and how to take action against it during the BLM protests,” says Skyvara.

Second, there’s a new commitment by some members to challenge themselves to read more widely, and third, a wish to discover and support more Black authors, of both fiction and nonfiction.

“We have a very strong belief that it’s important to include a wide variety of voices across our coverage,” Skyvara says. “Books by diverse authors are mainstream books and are included in our regular coverage as a matter of course. We also look for opportunities to shine a brighter spotlight on different communities, with articles to support events like Black History Month, Native American Heritage Month, and Pride Month.”

The first list rounds up popular new histories and biographies that highlight different aspects and eras of African-American history; all these books were published in the past year. Goodreads pulled together this list based on how many of their 110 million members have added a book to their “Want to Read” shelves, how many ratings a book has, and a book’s rating (out of five stars). 

The second list covers new and upcoming popular books by Black authors that deal with social issues. The new and upcoming books list was solely determined by how many times a book had been added to a “Want to Read” shelf by Goodreads members.

One thing that’s important to note about Goodreads editorial coverage is that it is based on data about the books that members are reading, rating, and adding to their Want to Read lists, which is how the Amazon-owned site measures buzz, anticipation, and popularity, Skyvara explains.

“We also curate our articles to include an array of diverse authors and stories,” Skyvara says. “A recent initiative we’ve worked on to drive discovery of more books by underrepresented authors includes expanding our roster of freelancers and columnists to include more writers of color.”

Black Author-Book Roundup
“Driving While Black: African-American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights”; “The Kindest Lie”; “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own”; “The Other Black Girl”; “Caul Baby.”
Courtesy of Liveright Publishing Corporation; William Morrow & Company; Crown Publishing Group; Atria Books; Harper

Most popular new African-American histories and biographies

  1. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  2. Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones
  3. A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
  4. Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy A. Taylor
  5. The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. by Peniel E. Joseph
  6. His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham and John Lewis (afterword)
  7. Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Morgan Jerkins
  8. The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
  9. Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
  10. Driving While Black: African-American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights by Gretchen Sorin

Most popular new and upcoming novels by Black authors

  1. The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.
  2. Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
  3. Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
  4. The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
  5. What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
  6. Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
  7. Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins
  8. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  9. Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby  
  10. Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

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