What to Read: Black History Month 2023
History. Culture. Literature. There are many ways to celebrate Black History, but reading is certainly at the top of the list. Both fiction and nonfiction can educate, inspire, and create understanding. Start with a collection of fiction titles centered around Black love, curated by the McNally Jackson team at the Seaport. Dive deeper into history with a selection of nonfiction titles by Black authors, from essay collections to biographies, encyclopedias to thought pieces on the future. All of these titles and more are available for purchase online or in person at McNally Jackson, 4 Fulton Street.
If Beale Street Could Talk—James Baldwin
No one writes with the soaring brilliance of Baldwin, and this story of young lovers in New York torn apart by a false accusation is no exception.
An American Marriage—Tayari Jones
Like If Beale Street Could Talk, An American Marriage revolves around the devastating consequences of a false accusation, and the enduring love and compassion of those it affects.
Their Eyes Were Watching God—Zora Neale Hurston
Iconic, sensual, poetic. “Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”
The Prophets—Robert Jones, Jr
A story of queer love during slavery, that poet Danez Smith calls “lyrical and rebellious.”
Open Water—Caleb Azumah Nelson
This story of young love is a celebration of Black joy, and of Black artistry in many forms, from Barry Jenkins to Zadie Smith to Frank Ocean.
Seven Days in June—Tia Wilson
A sexy story of love in Brooklyn with a slow-burn romance and hidden depths.
Real Men Knit—Kwana Jackson
Sometimes you just need romance plain and simple, and Jackson is a master. Funny, friendly, satisfying.
The Matter of Black Lives – Jelani Cobb, David Remnick
A collection of The New Yorker‘s groundbreaking writing on race in America—including work by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hilton Als, Zadie Smith, and more—with a foreword by Jelani Cobb.
Make Good the Promises – Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Paul Gardullo
An incisive and illuminating analysis of the enduring legacy of the post-Civil War period known as Reconstruction—a comprehensive story of Black Americans’ struggle for human rights and dignity and the failure of the nation to fulfill its promises of freedom, citizenship, and justice.
Conversations in Black – Ed Gordon
Hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and inspiring, Conversations in Black offers sage wisdom for navigating race in a radically divisive America, and, with help from his mighty team of black intelligentsia, veteran journalist Ed Gordon creates hope and a timeless new narrative on what the future of black leadership should look like and how we can get there.
The Black Book – Middleton A. Harris, Ernest Smith, Morris Levitt, Roger Furman, Toni Morrison (foreward)
A new edition of the classic New York Times bestseller edited by Toni Morrison, offering an encyclopedic look at the black experience in America from 1619 through the 1940s with the original cover restored.
Traveling Black – Mia Bay
A riveting, character-rich account of racial segregation in America that reveals just how central travel restrictions were to the creation of Jim Crow laws–and why “traveling Black” has been at the heart of the quest for racial justice ever since.
Black Against Empire – Joshua Bloom, Waldo E. Martin, Jr.
This timely special edition, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party, features a new preface by the authors that places the Party in a contemporary political landscape, especially as it relates to Black Lives Matter and other struggles to fight police brutality against black communities.