The best books about Black women’s friendships

Kalisha Buckhanon Author Of Solemn
By Kalisha Buckhanon

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.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Passing

By Nella Larsen,

Book cover of Passing

Why 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.


Sula

By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of Sula

Why 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.


The Women of Brewster Place

By Gloria Naylor,

Book cover of The Women of Brewster Place

Why 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. 


Waiting to Exhale

By Terry McMillan,

Book cover of Waiting to Exhale

Why 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.


Silver Sparrow

By Tayari Jones,

Book cover of Silver Sparrow

Why 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in African Americans, African-American men, and Ohio?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about African Americans, African-American men, and Ohio.

African Americans Explore 432 books about African Americans
African-American Men Explore 18 books about African-American men
Ohio Explore 41 books about Ohio

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Three Mothers, Song of Solomon, and Salvage the Bones if you like this list.