Earlier this month, we shared a list of anti-racist books. While these books are incredibly valuable in understanding the ways racist ideas have been used to shape the world around us and to perpetuate violence against the Black community, they’re also only part of the story. For a full picture, the Black experiences we read about must also include joy, success, fantasy, love, and more—and they should be read not just this month or during Black History Month, but all year round. Here, we’ve rounded up 20 books by Black authors—ten hitting shelves this month, and ten upcoming releases to request on NetGalley.
First, here is a selection of books being published in June by Black authors. We’d recommend buying through Black-owned bookstores (find a great list here), or if sold out, find them on Libro.fm (where your purchases can support an indie bookstore of your choice) or through your local library.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This highly-anticipated new book from the author of The Mothers is already earning rave reviews from NetGalley members. The novel features identical twin sisters whose lives dramatically diverge: leading one to living in the town she hoped to escape from with her Black daughter, and the other to passing as white. Bennett gives readers an intimate look at their family history—from 1950s to the 1990s, from the South to California—and, through their daughters, what their future may look like.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series continues with a new contemporary romance. Danika Brown, a bisexual PhD student, is looking for a no-strings-attached fling to relieve stress while she focuses on her dreams. She believes she’s found exactly that in ex-rugby player Zafir Ansari. When a video of Zafir rescuing Dani goes viral, the two enter a fake relationship to help drum up publicity for Zafir’s children’s sports charity. Hibbert’s latest is sure to charm both familiar and new readers.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
The first in a debut YA fantasy series, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin draws inspiration from West African folklore. Malik hopes to find a safe home for himself and his sisters, but when one of them is kidnapped he’s forced to make a life-changing deal: He’ll kill Karina, the Crown Princess of Ziran, in exchange for his sister’s return. Malik enters the Solstasia competition, the prize of which is Karina’s hand in marriage. But as he grows closer to the princess, completing his deadly task is easier said than done.
A Spell For Trouble by Esme Addison
If you’re looking to curl up with a cozy mystery, Esme Addison has you covered. The first in the Enchanted Bay series, this novel introduces readers to Alexandra Daniels, who returns home after 20 years. Bellamy Bay, North Carolina is rife with rumors about Alex’s family and their herbal apothecary, all of which Alex brushes aside, until a resident is poisoned and her aunt is arrested. To uncover the truth, Alex begins to investigate and discovers secrets about the town and her family that she never could’ve imagined.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz Lighty’s dreams of leaving Campbell, Indiana and becoming a doctor need funding and she knows just where to get it: her school’s prom queen scholarship. While Liz isn’t thrilled about the demanding—and very public—competition, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington College. The only thing standing in her way is Mack, her fiercest competitor and the girl Liz cannot get out of her head.
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
Catherine Adel West’s debut novel alternates between the present and the 1960s to give readers the full story of the ties between two families living in Chicago’s South Side. The police write off the murder of Ruby King’s mother Alice, leaving her unprotected from Lebanon, her abusive father. Ruby’s best friend Layla attempts to help, but is kept away from Ruby by her own father, a pastor whose own connections to Lebanon are slowly revealed.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
Bethany C. Morrow’s YA fantasy is set in an alternate Portland, Oregon that is tinged with magic and populated with mythical creatures who are persecuted by humans. A Song Below Water follows best friends Tavia, a selectively nonverbal siren, and Effie, who is discovering she possesses strange new abilities every day. As the nation reels from the murder of a Black girl, and the rumors that she was a siren, the two friends cling to each other for support and together find their voices.
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
When a viral tweet draws Samiah Brooks’ attention to her boyfriend’s bad behavior, she publicly dumps him and becomes friends with the other two women he’d been seeing. Her newfound friendship with London and Taylor inspires Samiah to go after her dream of designing an app, but their group pact to avoid men hits a hiccup when she meets her cute new coworker. Check out our interview with Farrah Rochon to learn more about the inspiration behind the book!
All The Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani
Two teenagers find love on the basketball court in Liara Tamani’s contemporary YA novel. A single glance causes a spark between Carli and Rex, who each play for their respective high school’s basketball team. But turning that first encounter into something more becomes complicated by misunderstandings and family secrets. Throughout the novel, Tamani explores the passion they have for each other, for their families, and for the sport.
The Dragons, The Giant, The Women by Wayétu Moore
In this memoir, Wayétu Moore explores what it means to be both Black and an immigrant in America. The Dragons, The Giant, The Women begins in Liberia, just before the start of the First Liberian Civil War. Moore chronicles her family’s journey from their home to the United States, the years she spent growing up in Texas, and the path that led her back to her home country.
Here are ten upcoming books by Black authors currently available for request on NetGalley, which can also be pre-ordered!
Just Us by Claudia Rankine
Claudia Rankine’s next book hits shelves in September. A blend of essays and poetry, Just Us encourages readers to break their silence and engage actively in discussions of white supremacy, and to shake off the instinct to remain neutral or polite, actions that only enable racist ideas to flourish. While your request is pending, I recommend picking up Rankine’s Citizen.
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Alyssa Cole explores the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood in this thriller. Sydney Green begins holding walking tours to preserve her community’s history with the help of her neighbor Theo. But as the two dig deeper into the changes happening in the neighborhood, they discover that the families who have left didn’t move to the suburbs as they claimed. The two start to suspect that something truly sinister is at work in Brooklyn.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Readers have been eagerly anticipating Yaa Gyasi’s followup to Homegoing. Transcendent Kingdom follows a family of immigrants from Ghana who are now living in Alabama. Gifty, who is studying neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine, is drawn back to the church she was raised in as she continues to think about the death of her brother, the grief her mother continues to battle, and the lines between science and faith.
A Reunion of Rivals by Reese Ryan
The fourth Bourbon Brothers romance offers a second chance at love ten years later. It’s been a decade since Max Abbott and Quinn Bazemore’s sizzling summer romance as interns and the heartbreak that followed. Now, forced to partner on a marketing strategy, the two find themselves wondering if they’ll be able to keep their feelings for each other in the past.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
P. Djèlí Clark adds a supernatural element to this historical novella about the Ku Klux Klan. Director D. W. Griffith uses his film The Birth of a Nation to cast a spell on Americans to bring the Klan into power. Sword-wielding Maryse Boudreaux is determined to stop him, but she’ll need help and the strength to face her own demons if she hopes to succeed.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Marva Sheridan cannot wait to vote in her first election, and has spent the months leading up to it registering as many voters as possible. When she witnesses Duke Crenshaw being turned away from their polling place, she can’t stand idly by. Marva is determined to make Duke’s vote count, and soon Duke finds himself swept up in Marva’s passion for changing the world. While you wait for your request to be approved, follow in Marva’s footsteps and make sure you’re registered to vote!
Memorial by Bryan Washington
If you loved Bryan Washington’s debut Lot, you won’t want to miss Memorial. Is love enough to keep Benson and Mike together? The pair find themselves wondering if they’re still a good fit after years together. When Mike flies to Japan to say his goodbyes to his dying father, Benson is left alone with Mike’s mother, Mitsuko, who recently arrived for an extended visit. This chain of events leads both men to think about what they truly want and how to get it.
Scandalous Secrets by Synithia Williams
Thirteen years ago, Byron Robidoux lied to protect Zoe Hammond and her unborn child from a dangerous ex, by claiming to be the baby’s father. Now, just as he’s poised for a successful campaign for a Senate seat, Byron’s approached by an investigator who claims to know his secrets. Realizing any information turned up could lead Zoe’s ex right back to her door, Byron once again finds himself offering to do whatever it takes to keep the woman he never stopped loving and her daughter safe. You can request a preview now of this August release!
And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall
Readers looking to get lost in a mystery will want to request Rachel Howzell Hall’s And Now She’s Gone, which arrives on shelves this September. Grayson Sykes is on a mission to find Isabel Lincoln. Isabel recently disappeared, though it’s unclear to Grayson if she left willingly or not. The more Grayson searches, the more secrets she uncovers of a life that Isabel kept hidden.
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
The first in a new YA fantasy series, Raybearer follows Tarisai on a journey to the capital of Aritsar, where she’s expected to stand out amongst other competitors all seeking to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. Those selected share an incredible bond known as the Ray, and Tarisai dreams of feeling as though she belongs somewhere. But her mother sent her to the city with a mission: gain the prince’s trust and then kill him.