30 books by women of color that I read this year

"the new jim crow" book next to container of chinese hand-pulled noodles

Some light lunchtime reading.

Inspired by Victoria Law’s decision to read 50 books by people of color in 2014, I decided to do a similar challenge: 25 books by women of color (which turned into 30).  I’m happy to report that I read some really awesome books, and found many authors whose work I’d like to read more of.

I’ve organized the books I read by genre, as Victoria did in her summary post. If you have book recommendations, leave them in the comments! I’m not sure whether I will do another challenge for 2015, but either way I would like to continue reading more books by people of color, especially women and queer poc.

Sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
Two novels about a young black woman who lives in a near-future climate change dystopia and founds her own religion. I loved the first book, but felt the sequel wasn’t as good for many reasons. (For example: the first book came out in 1993, but feels like it could have been written yesterday, whereas the second book was published in 2000 and feels rather dated in its focus on the dangers of fundamentalist Christianity.) Both books are absorbingly written, but incredibly bleak–I recommend reading them only if you’re in the right head-space to process a never-ending string of loss and trauma.

Ash by Malinda Lo


Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Janet Mock is awesome. That is all.

Crazy Brave: A Memoir by Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo is also awesome. Seriously, you need to read this book.

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward
This is the heart-breaking story of five young black men in the author’s life, including her brother, who died within four years.

Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee’s Return to Korea by Jane Jeong Trenka

Hapa Girl: A Memoir by May-Lee Chai

A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez
A beautiful book; you can read excerpts here and here. Continue reading

My reading challenge: 25 books by women of color in 2014

Inspired by this post, in which Victoria Law plans to read 50 books by writers of color, mostly women, I’ve decided to do my own reading challenge.

I’m going to aim to read 25 books written by women of color this year, of any and all genres. In the past two months, I’ve read only one–Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, which I recommend highly–so I have some catching up to do!

Both Law’s post and this essay by Aimee Phan have good recommendations for books by women of color.  I’m also looking forward to Roxane Gay‘s novel An Untamed State, which will be coming out next month.

A few other books I am hoping to read:
The Summer We Got Free, by Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous
Ash by Malinda Lo
Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism by Jessica Yee (unfortunately, my library doesn’t have this one, and I really don’t like to buy books unless I already know I like them, but I will try to get a hold of it somehow)
-Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Sarasinha’s Love Cake and Consensual Genocide (my library doesn’t have these either, sigh)

And here are a few books by WOC that I’ve read in the past and recommend for anyone doing a similar challenge–or anyone who likes good books, period:
Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I was first introduced to Adichie’s writing in college, and it’s been so exciting to see her become more and more popular, to the extent that Beyonce sampled one of her speeches in the song “Flawless.”
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Cereus Blooms At Night and He Drown She in the Sea by Shani Mootoo
Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

What books by women of color do you like?