The best books about Black women’s friendships

Who am I?

I’m a Black woman novelist in America who has made it through life with three things: God, great books, and greater friends. Throughout my writing career, friends have encouraged and supported each and every book I could not have written without them. I am also a literary scholar of black women writers in America, a champion of their works, and a soul dedicated to preserving their names in the literary canon. I have two English literature and language degrees from University of Chicago with my M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The New School. No novel I write is complete without empowering and strengthening relationships between Black women and girls.


I wrote...

Solemn

By Kalisha Buckhanon,

Book cover of Solemn

What is my book about?

Solemn Redvine is a precocious Mississippi girl who senses a nearby baby may be her half-sibling: the outcome of her father’s mistakes with a married woman who lives in their mobile home community. After Solemn witnesses a man drop the baby down a community well, she struggles to understand the event, leaving her forever changed. When her father’s next mistake – a robbery – lands Solemn in a group home for troubled girls, she meets a Chicago delinquent who wants to escape.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Passing

Kalisha Buckhanon Why did I love this book?

I rarely let a book go from my shelves, but this is one I’ve pulled down twice and passed on to two friends after they noticed the Passing title on the spine. I told them it was about two biracial childhood friends, Clare and Irene, who collide later in life as Clare passes for white secretly in 1920s Harlem. Whoah… they were hooked. I discovered this oldie but goodie in a college Harlem Renaissance course, with author Nella Larsen recently rediscovered as a national literary treasure. The 2021 Netflix film adaptation is pretty awesome. Read this psychological thriller for a perfect portrait of the Jazz Age and pre-Civil Rights era race relations in America.

By Nella Larsen,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Passing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic, brilliant and layered novel that has been at the heart of racial identity discourse in America for almost a century.

Clare Kendry leads a dangerous life. Fair, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a white man unaware of her African American heritage and has severed all ties to her past. Clare's childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, but refuses to acknowledge the racism that continues to constrict her family's happiness. A chance encounter forces both women to confront the lies they have told others - and the…


Book cover of Sula

Kalisha Buckhanon Why did I love this book?

No other novel is more important to me than this one. A college professor introduced it to me in my sophomore year and, as the third Toni Morrison book I’d read, it just spoke to me in a way no other book has before or since. Sula and Nel grow up in Depression-era Ohio, but limitations on black people’s and women’s lives necessitate their different paths: Sula goes rogue to the big Ohio city while Nel succeeds as a housewife in their all-Black birthplace known as “The Bottom.” You would never know an approximately 150-page book could deliver so much spectacular drama and so many unforgettable characters across three generations in America. When Sula returns to The Bottom after a ten-year absence, she and Nel’s friendship endures the ultimate test.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Sula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Extravagantly beautiful... Enormously, achingly alive... A howl of love and rage, playful and funny as well as hard and bitter' New York Times

As young girls, Nel and Sula shared each other's secrets and dreams in the poor black mid-West of their childhood. Then Sula ran away to live her dreams and Nel got married.

Ten years later Sula returns and no one, least of all Nel, trusts her. Sula is a story of fear - the fear that traps us, justifying itself through perpetual myth and legend. Cast as a witch by the people who resent her strength, Sula…


Book cover of The Women of Brewster Place

Kalisha Buckhanon Why did I love this book?

This is the absolute, hands down best collection of interlinked stories framed as a novel I have ever read in my life. You will fall in love with each and every one of these colorful, dynamic, and heartwarming women who find themselves in one tenement building in 1970s Harlem. Mattie Michael, Etta Mae Johnson, Lucielia "Ciel" Turner, Melanie "Kiswana" Browne, Cora Lee, Lorraine, and Theresa all come from different backgrounds but intersect around one major theme: surviving urban America as Black women. By the end, you will roar in celebration and respect for their journeys to self-fulfillment, self-discovery, and self-empowerment despite incredible odds. 

By Gloria Naylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Women of Brewster Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The National Book Award-winning novel-and contemporary classic-that launched the brilliant career of Gloria Naylor, now with a foreword by Tayari Jones

"[A] shrewd and lyrical portrayal of many of the realities of black life . . . Naylor bravely risks sentimentality and melodrama to write her compassion and outrage large, and she pulls it off triumphantly." -The New York Times Book Review

"Brims with inventiveness-and relevance." -NPR's Fresh Air

In her heralded first novel, Gloria Naylor weaves together the stories of seven women living in Brewster Place, a bleak-inner city sanctuary, creating a powerful, moving portrait of the strengths, struggles,…


Book cover of Waiting to Exhale

Kalisha Buckhanon Why did I love this book?

When this book premiered in the mid-nineties, I was fairly young but absolutely shook by these grown thirtysomething women’s stories of not just finding romance but finding themselves with a lot of help from their friends. You will be hard-pressed to pick a favorite character among Savannah, Robin, Bernadine, and Gloria but I will give you a tip: Don’t even try. They are all strong, exuberant, and self-determined professional women at the centers of their families and communities. The search for real, true, lasting love plays out across one year in Arizona that changes their lives. On nearly every page, McMillan will entertain you or break your heart but never let you forget the power of best girlfriends.

By Terry McMillan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Waiting to Exhale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of four vibrant black women in their thirties. They draw on each other for support as they struggle with careers, divorce, motherhood and their relationships with men.


Book cover of Silver Sparrow

Kalisha Buckhanon Why did I love this book?

I have to tip-toe around descriptions of this book as they are hard to give without spoilers, but that’s a testament to how good it is and how amazing it is to read. The twist and turns across the lives of two young girls in Atlanta, Dana Lynn and Chaurisse, only get more winding as they age with (drumroll) the same father who just happens to be married to both their different mothers. You’re in for a ride as the story progresses with readers knowing the secret some characters know, some don’t and some will find out. Filled with humor but always reverent to themes of race in America and Black women’s lives in it, this contemporary novel shows what it truly is for friends to be just like sisters.

By Tayari Jones,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Silver Sparrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times Bestselling Author of An American Marriage

“A love story . . . Full of perverse wisdom and proud joy . . . Jones’s skill for wry understatement never wavers.”
—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Silver Sparrow will break your heart before you even know it. Tayari Jones has written a novel filled with characters I’ll never forget. This is a book I’ll read more than once.”
—Judy Blume

With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man's deception, a family's complicity,…


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The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

Book cover of The River of Eternity

Bruce Balfour

New book alert!

What is my book about?

1184 BCE. Ramesses III, who will become the last of the great pharaohs, is returning home from battle. He will one day assume the throne of the Egyptian empire, and the plots against him and his children have already started. Even a god can die.

Ray was raised with the teenage children of Ramesses as their friend, but his own mysterious past exposes him to threats inside and outside of the Egyptian court. When a prince is killed, Ray is framed for the murder and must run to protect Bull, the oldest son of Ramesses. So begins Ray’s dangerous journey from the snake pit of royal palace intrigue into a violent world of treachery and enemies that will take years to conquer if he can survive.

The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

What is this book about?

From the national bestselling author of The Forge of Mars and The Digital Dead, an Ancient Egyptian epic adventure thriller series, based on real events, for fans of Wilbur Smith, Steven Saylor, and Paul Doherty.

This is the first book of a series leading up to the event known as The Harem Conspiracy, the assassination of Pharaoh Ramesses III in New Kingdom Egypt (1184 BCE), which was led by members of his own family. Details were drawn from the first recorded judicial trial transcript ever recovered (Judicial Papyrus of Turin plus other fragments of the original papyrus).


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