A Season of Black Women Writers: Four Inspiring Non-Fiction Must Reads

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” – Maya Angelou

 

I love reading diverse stories written by Black women. They have always made me feel less alone, more uplifted and helped to broaden my understanding of race, sexual identity, gender identity, body size, politics, culture and more. We are so much greater than the one-dimensional depictions we often see of ourselves in media.

If you’re in search of a few good non-fiction reads that will make you think, laugh and reflect, look no further! Here are four that I highly recommend.

 

 

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Written by one of my fave pop culture critics, Luvvie Ajayi’s I’m Judging You asks us all to simply be better humans. Luvvie covers a wide range of topics, some of which include: Social media etiquette, how to be a better friend, racism, sexism, and religion.

I’ve followed Luvvie’s blog, Awesomely Luvvie, for several years now and this book stays true to her sharp and witty online personality while also giving us a more in-depth exploration of topics that have been dominating our social media newsfeeds over the last few years. I’m Judging You will have you cackling endlessly, but will also make you think about the ways in which we can often suck as humans and need to cast our side eyes upon ourselves. Luvvie is as thoughtful and critical as she is hilarious. She is a great example of how we can make funny and intelligent observations about the state of the world without being offensive. What I also love about this book is that she takes heavy topics like race and religion and makes them accessible to everyone. We don’t always need to use convoluted academic terminology and language to unpack these serious topics. I’m Judging You gives us that balance.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Luvvie’s literary debut, but it ended up being one of my favourite reads this year. Please go and get this book or else I will be judging you.

 

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The Queen of TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday), Shonda Rhimes, has graced us with this gem of a book. To be honest, I didn’t really know much about Shonda outside of her ability to create some of the best TV shows to cross our flat screens – Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder (HTGAWM) are among her most popular. I personally live for HTGAWM and often wonder how she comes up with such intricate storylines for the Thursday night line-up! HTGAWM alone would have me mentally exhausted! Anyway, this is about her book so let me stay on track…

Shonda’s Year of Yes is such an inspiring read. From the outside looking in, I would never have pegged her to be an awkward black girl but she totally is! This was the first thing that endeared her and her story to me, as I am also a self-proclaimed awkward black girl *raises fist in solidarity.*  Shonda describes her life and shares her story in such a charming and quirky way that you almost forget that she is a Hollywood powerhouse…almost.

Year of Yes feels like a book written by a really cool, nerdy and successful older sister. Shonda schools us on how to live a better life while also sharing the areas where she struggled to meet her true potential, and on how saying “yes” ultimately led her to be her best self. With every chapter, we get to experience Shonda’s evolution into the badass that she is today. This book is a great reminder to never become complacent in your life. Keep pushing those personal boundaries and aim for more. Or as Shonda says, “Be a doer.”

 

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I don’t quite remember when I first heard about Janet Mock. I believe it was several years ago while I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts (shout out to The Read’s Kid Fury and Crissle)! I do remember doing my Googles to learn more about her and her activism and was super excited to see a trans woman of colour (WOC) educating us all on the fight to be seen and recognized as people.

Y’all…this book is just…please read it. Redefining Realness is a coming of age story about so many things, including racial identity, gender identity, and a young person having to quickly grow up and figure out how to navigate the unstable circumstances around her.

I was struck most by Janet’s tenacity and grace. This book speaks to the resilience of the human spirit to endure what may seem like the most insurmountable of obstacles, and still come out shining on the other side.

Redefining Realness is the most genuine and beautifully written memoir I’ve read in a long time. Janet tells her story while also taking the opportunity to educate readers about the fight for inclusion and dignity, including facts and statistics relevant to the trans community and specific to trans people of colour.

I already have her new book, Surpassing Certainty, on my wish list.

 

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I heard a lot of buzz around Roxane Gay’s most recent book, Hunger, and decided to start with her previous book, Bad Feminist, because…well…the title…I completed my undergraduate degree in women’s studies so I know all about being a bad feminist…

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays that addresses both social and political issues in American society.  Recognizing that we are all walking contradictions in some form or another, Bad Feminist is essentially about being human. While we can work to dismantle, unpack and understand how systems of patriarchy and racism, etc., continue to impact our freedoms and choices as women, many of us will almost simultaneously tune in to one of the Housewives franchises and happily sing along to songs with problematic lyrics. I’ve personally always felt like I’m half Hilary Banks and half Angela Davis so this book was relatable on many levels. At the end of the day wherever we fall on the spectrum of “wokeness” and feminism, it’s really all a journey. My humanity is not only valid if I meet some kind of acceptable feminist standard. I’m flawed and messy (much like the feminist movement itself), yet still worthy of rights and freedoms.

Roxane Gay is brilliant, funny, and amazingly insightful. She is that person who thinks about things in ways you never have/would and is able to convey her thoughts in a way that is not only relatable but also reflective and just plain smart. On almost every other page I kept thinking to myself, “Damn! I wish I had thought about it that way!”

Do yourself a favour and get some Roxane Gay in your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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