I love to read. It does not matter if it is a mystery, thriller, or a romance with a hint of mystery. I enjoy learning about someone’s life through biography. And some of my favorite books help me become more enlightened, improve my personal development, and think about society differently.
Because of my love of reading, I will review almost every “top book” list. It does not matter if it is the best business books, best books of the year, or most anticipated. Unfortunately, most of these lists, based on my experience, rarely include African American authors. For that reason, I have compiled my list of the Most Anticipated Books in 2021 by Black American Authors.
1. The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations by Robert Livingston (February 2, 2021)
While pursuing my master’s degree in organizational leadership last year, I read a lot of articles from Harvard educators, including several from HBR’s 10 Must Reads collections. Interestingly, the one Harvard educator I never had to read was Dr. Robert Livingston, which makes me excited to read his new book. Besides being a social psychologist, Penguin Random House identifies him as “one of the nation’s leading experts on the science underlying bias and racism.”
2. One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race by Yaba Blay (February 16, 2021)
Last year was a challenging year, but one of the highlights for me was the introduction to Dr. Yaba Blay. I follow Blay on Instagram and feel everything she shares is a masterclass. She was one of the main conversations I wanted to watch during the Share The Mic Now campaign on June 10, 2020. She held and shared many fun conversations, but her input about race, racism, and culture is why her book is on my highly anticipated list.
3. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee (February 16, 2021)
TED Talks are a great way to be introduced to thought leaders and SMEs (subject matter experts). It is also how I was introduced to Heather McGhee. What is so interesting about McGhee’s TED Talk, “Racism has a cost for everyone,” is it was filmed a little over six months before June 2020’s worldwide Black Lives Matter and racial justice protests. Her TED Talk is powerful, so I anticipate her book will be even more so.
4. The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor (February 9, 2021)
Sonya Renee Taylor is someone else I had time to learn more about and follow in 2020. A “shoot from the hip,” “tell it like it is,” and powerful Black woman, her voice is her weapon. The second edition of The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love, is being released on February 9th, and I cannot wait. The second edition includes more stories from Taylor and consists of a new chapter to help the reader fight some of the most prevalent societal issues, including racism, sexism, and homophobia.
5. Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones (March 2, 2021)
Of everyone on this list, Luvvie Ajayi Jones is the author I have known and followed the longest. Starting with her pop culture blog, I must honor her side-eye sorceress game. Her first book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manualwas an excellent read and a genuine “do-better” manual. Because I follow her on all the social platforms, I feel I have walked with her as she wrote and finished her latest one, Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual. Her tribe has affirmed her and the words of this book, and I am ready for it.
6. While Justice Sleeps: A Novel by Stacey Abrams (May 11, 2021)
Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Voting Rights Activist. The epitome of Black Girl Magic. If you do not know who Stacey Abrams is at this point in your life, stop reading this article and get your life because you have a problem. I refuse to take back my last statement. No one fights like Stacey Abrams, in my opinion. I am excited to read While Justice Sleeps: A Novel because I know Abrams has included her expertise to make this book a hit. For me, it is a thriller, and I am thrilled. By the way, head to Prime Video and watch the documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, which offers a good view of voter suppression and what Abrams fights for.
7. Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany Aliche (March 30, 2021)
She is not called the “Budgetnista” for no reason. I had the honor of hearing Tiffany Aliche speak on a Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit panel in 2019, and it was a wake-up call. There are many money people, but Aliche simplifies handling your money, so you don’t feel embarrassed about not getting it right the first time. Through her Live Richer Academy, Aliche created a strong community to learn about making and managing money, and I cannot wait to Get Good with Money.
8. Bamboozled By Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji (May 25, 2021)
With the acclaim and adoration of the hit show, Insecure, more people know about the show’s character, Molly, played by Yvonne Orji. Did you know she has a TED Talk, a side-splitting HBO comedy special, and a podcast, Jesus and Jollof, with Luvvie Ajayi Jones? Orji also has some other television and film projects in the works. I am in awe of her and excited for her book, Bamboozled By Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams. Are you with me in wanting to know how she was bamboozled?
9. Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen: The Emotional Lives of Black Women by Inger Burnett-Zeigler (June 29, 2021)
Dr. Burnett-Zeigler is a clinical psychologist and researcher in mental health disparities. When I learned of her book, his book, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen: The Emotional Lives of Black Women, I was more than intrigued. It has become a quest to know what Dr. Burnett-Zeigler has written. I need this for myself and to share it with my sister circle of Black women.
10. Harlem Shuffle: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (September 14, 2021)
Colson Whitehead is a master storyteller. If you have not read The Underground Railroad: A Novel, what are you waiting for? For goodness sake, it won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. I am excited about Harlem Shuffle: A Novel because of the promise of suspense and thrill. I am never disappointed reading a Colson Whitehead story.
Bonus: Everything by Amanda Gorman
~ The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country (March 30, 2021)
~ The Hill We Climb and Other Poems (September 21, 2021)
~ Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem (September 21, 2021)
Amanda Gorman wowed the world with her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. The day before, I watched her deliver a powerful Expressions of Art and Racial Healing Performance with MILCK for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s National Day of Racial Healing. It is no surprise that her books became best sellers that day of the inauguration, and rightfully so. I am excited to get both books planned for September 21st, and I am excited about what the future holds for her.
There are many more books from Black authors slated for a 2021 release, and thankfully my goal this year is to read more. I hope that the books listed here and others not listed will start to take their rightful place on the mainstream lists of the top books. After all, we have amazing stories to tell. Our experiences and knowledge are worth being on the list. We are just that good.