Hey, y’all, it’s Lila! I’m coming to y’all today because I was tagged by the lovely Rae at Educated Negra and the wonderful Leelynn from Sometimes Leelynn Reads to do the Black Book Blogger Tag (adapted from the Black Booktuber Tag created by The Unfriendly Black Hotties)! I’m so excited to do this tag and to give some attention to Black/African/African Diaspora authors and own voices books, as well as Black/African/African Diaspora content creators! So let’s not dilly dally—let’s just jump right into the good stuff!
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TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF
Hi, friends!!! I’m Lila (pronouns: she/her) and I’m a 25 year old Black American, Lebanese, and Cherokee college student studying physics and a lover of literature (in particular, YA fantasy and sci fi)! I also happen to have a heart condition and ADHD and as a result can be a tad scatterbrained—BUT! What I lack in organization I definitely make up for in pure EXUBERANCE! I’m a Sagittarius, an ENFP, an enneagram type 7 and if you don’t have a clue what any of that means—NEVER FEAR!—it just basically just means I’m a super friendly, uber extroverted, giant teddy bear of a girl with a massive amount of heart! So don’t be shy to drop a comment or start a Twitter conversation and say “hi!”, I absolutely adore making new friends 😉
WHO’S A BLACK AUTHOR YOU LOVE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT?
I don’t blog about it all that much but I actually really enjoy poetry, both written and spoken word, and there are some AMAZING Black poets out there (ya know, aside from Langston Hughes—although I do absolutely adore Hughes!). One of my favorite “modern poets” is slam poet Rudy Francisco!
I first noticed Francisco when I came across a video of him performing his poem “To The Girl Who Works At Starbucks.” I remember being so struck by not only his humor, but his honesty and his vulnerability in both his poetry and his performance. So, naturally, I decided to look up more of his performances and I soon discovered that he also had penned a poetry collection, Helium! All in all, I could go on forever about how much I love Francisco’s work and how I wish more people knew about him, but I’ll just let his work speak for itself and share one of his performances:
FAVORITE BOOK ABOUT THE BLACK EXPERIENCE?
I recently started reading A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow and right off the bat it was…wow… It’s a fantasy book set in the modern world, but it speaks so openly and honestly about what it is to be Black in America, particularly a Black girl. The main characters talk about everything from Black hair care to the murder of Black women and the public apathy surrounding those murders. I honestly have no words for how seen this book made me feel!
A Song Below Water is a modern fantasy about two Black girls, Tavia and Effie (one of whom is a siren), fighting to survive in a world where sirens tend to only be Black women and are reviled. It’s full of magic and sisterhood and is a powerful fantasy read that really digs into Black American identity and experience.
FAVORITE BOOK BY A BLACK AUTHOR?
I really enjoyed Mirage by Somaiya Daud! Daud is half Black American and half Amazigh (indigenous Moroccan) and it’s easy to see how both sides of her heritage really influenced her debut novel, Mirage, which is a Moroccan-influenced YA sci fi/fantasy.
Mirage is set in the far future and follows Amani, an indigenous resident of a distant, colonized planet, and the web of intrigue that ensues when she is forced to become the body double of the ruling government’s princess. The novel also talks a lot about the nuances of colonization and losing your culture to a colonizer, as well the nuances of systemic and political racism and how they bleed and blend into social and interpersonal situations and does so in a really powerful way.
RECOMMEND A BLACK + QUEER BOOK
So this is definitely an area I need to work on and I am eager to get to it! First on my list is Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann! Several of my local libraries recently added a digital audiobook copy of Let’s Talk About Love to their collections and I am so excited to finally be able to get to it! It’s a contemporary YA about an asexual Black girl (by a Black, female author and with a beautiful, dark skinned black girl on the cover, might I add!) and honestly YES, PLEASE! It’s so rare to have books about people on the demi/gray/ace spectrum and so to have one about a Black girl in particular…yes you go girl we love to see it!!!
RECOMMEND A BOOK WITH A BLACK PERSON ON THE COVER
This is kind of a sad one for me because the genre I love most (and thus tend to read most) is YA fantasy and sci fi, which is a genre where we currently are going through a typography trend so we rarely see people on covers—let alone Black people! And when Black people do star in a YA fantasy or sci fi, oftentimes the cover is whitewashed! Nevertheless, I found a cover with not one, but TWO beautiful Black girls on the cover that I’d recommend and that is A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy!
I started reading A River of Royal Blood last year and was really, really, really enjoying it when it was suddenly pulled from Scribd’s library, much to my disappointment. But! I plan on purchasing it and finishing it as soon as I can! A River of Royal Blood is a North African inspired fantasy filled with fae and chimera and magical creatures, which is about two sisters forced to fight to the death for the crown. From what I read, it was lots of fun and had a vibe kind of like an African version of a Sarah J. Maas book crossed with Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series! It was a lot of fun, so be sure to take a look at it!
RECOMMEND A BOOK BY A BLACK AUTHOR THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
I really adore Soft Magic by Upile Chisala, which is a collection of poetry (a dark-skinned, African, female poet) that is aimed at really uplifting and empowering women of African/African Diaspora descent. Evocative and emotional, Chisala’s poetry manage to show the gentleness of the ferocity that Black women embody. With poems that feel like the taste of honey on a breezy summer day, Chisala manages to remind the reader that us Black women can be both soft and fierce and that we have a world of magic inside of us.
RECOMMEND SOME BLACK BOOK BLOGGERS/BOOKTUBERS/BOOKSTAGRAMMERS
- Afoma Umesi
- I recently discovered Afoma’s book blog and, although she reviews and blogs about largely Children’s and Middle Grade fiction, which are two age categories I don’t tend to dip into, I really enjoy her content!
- Cierra’s Cynosure
- Cierra has such a great blog, then again, I might be kinda biased, since we have similar taste in books! I get really good recommendations from her blog when it comes to books I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy! Cierra also has a booktube, which is really great to watch and you should check out both her blog and her booktube channel!
- Phrases & Pages
- I believe Tee began her blog this year and boy am I glad! Like me, she’s a big fantasy fan—and a fellow Daevabad Trilogy obsessed fangirl too! Interestingly, while Tee and I generally enjoy the same or similar books, we tend to enjoy them for different reasons, which I think is both fascinating and funny! So I definitely recommend her blog, especially if you have similar taste to me!
- Curly Haired Bibliophile
- Curly Haired Bibliophile is run by Jasmine and I love it so much! It’s always super interesting and fun to see what Jasmine is interested in and her thoughts on those books. She reads a lot of diverse Literary fiction, as well as YA and I feel like I get some great book recommendations from her. Go give her blog a look!
- With Love, Saoudia
- I also recently discovered Saoudia’s blog and aaaaaah I adore it! She’s more into Adult Literary Fiction and YA Contemporary, but I still love reading her content! She has a really engaging way of talking about books that makes me want to read them, even when they’re books that I wouldn’t typically pick up! Y’all gotta check out her blog for sure!
- Francina Simone
- I feel like most of y’all probably already know of Francina of Francina Simone, but just in case, I have to mention her. I feel like Francina is like…like the mom of booktube! She always brings equal doses of realness, honesty, humor, and compassion to everything she speaks on and I admire her so much for it. Francina’s able to capture the nuances of so many of the discussions we have in this community in a eloquent yet concise way. I really can’t praise her enough. If you aren’t following her already, definitely get on that asap!
- The Novel Lush
- If Francina is like booktube’s mom, Lauren of The Novel Lush is like booktube’s no nonsense older sister! Lauren is never afraid to bring the realness to her discussions and reviews and I am LIVING FOR IT!!! Like Francina, Lauren manages to also speak to the nuance in community discussions in a very honest yet compassionate way. She primarily reads Romance and YA and I love her commentary on books and her discussions! Lauren really manages to pull me in and get me interested, even though we read different types of books! Y’all ABSOLUTELY need to check out her channel!
- Ochuole of OhSheReads is a Nigerian American booktuber whose content I just love so, so much! She has a very analytical, yet blunt way of reviewing books and discussing topics, and let me tell y’all, my super honest Sagittarius self is so here for it! She and I have similar taste in books and I always love seeing her takes on what she reads. She also is very frank about issues surrounding being a Black/African/African Diaspora member of the community and I really appreciate her willingness to be open and honest about that. All in all, Ochuole’s a must-follow booktuber that y’all need to at least give a chance!
- Minimal Bookie
- Paige of Minimal Bookie is half Bajan and half Canadian and works in publishing in Toronto and I feel like those factors have always allowed her to bring a really unique perspective to the booktube scene. She’s never shy to share her opinions, but she also has a very concise style of conveying her thoughts that rings true to the “minimal” part of “Minimal Bookie.” Paige and I have differing taste in books, with her leaning more towards contemporary YA, literary fiction, and I believe some non-fiction as well (if I’m remembering correctly), but I always enjoy hearing her thoughts about what she reads. So, be sure to go take a look at her channel too!
- Tiana Tea
- I recently discovered Tiana of Tiana Tea‘s channel an I fell completely in love with it! Tiana has a way of talking about things that is light, fun, and humorous. Aside from her taste in books, I think the thing that draws me to Tiana’s content is largely her brand of humor, which is very lighthearted instead of the typical self deprecating, sarcastic, and/or more ironic brand of humor that many content creators tend to lean towards. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that type of humor as well, it’s just nice to see someone enjoying life in a lighter way—especially a Black girl! If you enjoy that style as well, then definitely check out Tiana’s channel!
- Seline (@lifebytheink)
- Cas (@heybookbae)
- Simone (@simonereadsbooks)
- MJ (@novelallure)
- CoCo (@coco_chasing_adventures)
TALK ABOUT A BOOK BY A BLACK AUTHOR THAT’S COMING IN 2020
Y’all, I cannot even begin to tell you just how excited I am for Legendborn by Tracy Deonn!! Aaaaaah!!! It honestly sounds so amazing! It’s got magic and mages and demons and secret societies and agh what more could you ask for?!?!! This story also means a lot to me because it stars a young Black girl going to a school for “gifted” students—which is similar to my teenage-hood! See, when I was a teen, there weren’t many stories about Black teens, let alone Black teen girls, let alone Black teen girls who didn’t fall into a sporty stereotype. As a Black teen girl who wasn’t very sporty, but who was a competitive singer and a top student who loved school, I didn’t have much representation I could relate to. So, I feel like this is the type of story that I would have not only loved as a teen, but also deeply related to.
TAG SOME BLACK BOOK BLOGGERS!
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So that’s all I got for ya today, friends! I hope you enjoyed and found some wonderful new books, authors, and creators to check out and enjoy as much as I do! I hope all of you stay well, safe, healthy, and happy and that you remember to wear your masks, social distance, and contribute what you can to make this world a better place, like the good little beans I know you all are! Until next time, friends!
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SPILL THE BEANS, FRIENDS!
- What are some of your favorite books by Black/African/African Diaspora authors?
- Who are some of your favorite Black/African/African Diaspora book bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers?
- What are some books by Black/African/African Diaspora authors that you are looking forward to that are releasing in the second half of 2020?