Summer reading never went out of style.
This past spring, I had the opportunity to speak with Glory Edim, the founder of Well-Read Black Girl. As told on its website, Well-Read Black Girl is a Brooklyn-based book club and digital platform that celebrates Black literature and sisterhood. Started in 2015, the platform’s reach has extended far beyond what Glory Edim expected, now with nearly 82,000 followers on Instagram.
It’s no longer just a page — WRBG has a bi-monthly newsletter, a monthly book club, and held its first ever festival last September. Edim’s mission with WRBG has always been to simultaneously herald our Black female literary legends and usher in new voices and fresh stories. In a 2016 interview with Brooklyn Magazine, she shared that she wanted WRBG to build community and “prioritize Black women readers,” and hopefully become “an Oprah Book Club for the young.”
When I ran up to her at an event she was paneling a few months ago, I asked her for her top three book recommendations for the summer. Edim was visibly excited to share her choices.
Get ready for some page-turners.
An American Marriage: A Novel by Tayari Jones
Book Jacket Summary, brought to you by Amazon:
“Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward–with hope and pain–into the future.” Buy this book HERE.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
Book Jacket Summary, brought to you by Amazon:
“From one of the fiercest critics writing today, Morgan Jerkins’ highly-anticipated collection of linked essays interweaves her incisive commentary on pop culture, feminism, black history, misogyny, and racism with her own experiences to confront the very real challenges of being a black woman today—perfect for fans of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists.
Morgan Jerkins is only in her twenties, but she has already established herself as an insightful, brutally honest writer who isn’t afraid of tackling tough, controversial subjects. In This Will Be My Undoing, she takes on perhaps one of the most provocative contemporary topics: What does it mean to “be”—to live as, to exist as—a black woman today? This is a book about black women, but it’s necessary reading for all Americans.
Whether she’s writing about Sailor Moon; Rachel Dolezal; the stigma of therapy; her complex relationship with her own physical body; the pain of dating when men say they don’t “see color”; being a black visitor in Russia; the specter of “the fast-tailed girl” and the paradox of black female sexuality; or disabled black women in the context of the “Black Girl Magic” movement, Jerkins is compelling and revelatory.” Buy this book HERE.
Halsey Street by Naima Coster
Book Jacket Summary brought to you by Amazon:
“Penelope Grand has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She’s accepted that her future won’t be what she’d dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Old haunts have been razed, and wealthy white strangers have replaced every familiar face in Bed-Stuy. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic. That took courage. It’s also unforgivable.
When Penelope moves into the attic apartment of the affluent Harpers, she thinks she’s found a semblance of family—and maybe even love. But her world is upended again when she receives a postcard from Mirella asking for reconciliation. As old wounds are reopened, and secrets revealed, a journey across an ocean of sacrifice and self-discovery begins.
An engrossing debut, Halsey Street shifts between the perspectives of these two captivating, troubled women. Mirella has one last chance to win back the heart of the daughter she’d lost long before leaving New York, and for Penelope, it’s time to break free of the hold of the past and start navigating her own life.” Buy this book HERE.
All three books are already on my wishlist and will soon make their way to my shopping cart. A huge thank you goes out to Glory Edim for her stellar recommendations. Keep an eye out for her first book, an anthology titled Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves (pictured in the lead image) to be released in October 2018. #SupportBlackWomenWriters this summer!