The best books about multiracial people

Who picked these books? Meet our 85 experts.

85 authors created a book list connected to multiracial people, and here are their favorite multiracial people books.
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What type of multiracial people book?


Magnificent Homespun Brown

By Samara Cole Doyon, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Book cover of Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration

Patrice Gopo Author Of All the Places We Call Home

From the list on celebrating stories of home, identity, and belonging.

Who am I?

As the Black American daughter of Jamaican immigrants born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I love stories that depict the beauty of being multifaceted human beings. Stories steeped in broad understandings of place and home. Stories that encourage us to delight in being the people we are. I also believe our children are natural poets and storytellers. Lyrical picture books filled with rich language and sensory details encourage the thriving of such creativity. In addition to writing All the Places We Call Home, I'm the author of All the Colors We Will See, an essay collection about race, immigration, and belonging. 

Patrice's book list on celebrating stories of home, identity, and belonging

Discover why each book is one of Patrice's favorite books.

Why did Patrice love this book?

Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! What a celebration indeed!! Such gorgeous, lyrical language. And the illustrations—often connected to the seasons—are vibrant and alive. This story is a poem that encourages a child to celebrate the people they come from and the color they are. I love how the specific words, the soothing alliteration, and the connections with nature and family invite us to read further. And the descriptions of the color brown sing. Finally, as someone who spent a childhood hiking trails and connecting with the outdoors, one of my favorite spreads is where the father and daughter take a mountain hike. We do not see enough brown families spending time in nature in children’s books. What a joy to see this representation. 

By Samara Cole Doyon, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magnificent Homespun Brown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Magnificent Homespun Brown is an exploration of the natural world and family bonds through the eyes of young, mixed raced heroines-a living, breathing, dazzlingly multi-faceted, exuberant masterpiece, firmly grounded in a sense of self-worth and belonging. This is a story-a poem, a song, a celebration- about feeling at home in one's own beloved skin.

If Walt Whitman were reborn as a young woman of colour, this is the book he might write. With vivid illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, Samara Cole Doyon sings a carol for the plenitude that surrounds us and the self each of us is meant to inhabit.

The River Between Us

By Richard Peck,

Book cover of The River Between Us

Frances M. Wood Author Of Daughter of Madrugada

From the list on bringing American history alive for middle graders.

Who am I?

A reader. A librarian. A writer. I majored in History/English in college, partly because I love historical novels. When my editor asked that my second book be set during the California Gold Rush, I knew I wanted to write from the Mexican point of view - I’m a quarter Mexican. I soon found myself deep in research, learning about those years when Mexico owned what is now the American Southwest. Writing Daughter of Madrugada left me wondering: were some of my own ancestors displaced by American encroachment?

Frances' book list on bringing American history alive for middle graders

Discover why each book is one of Frances' favorite books.

Why did Frances love this book?

Lots of blood and guts in this book. It’s 1916, and Howard is learning what happened to his family back in 1861. That’s when a pair of young women stepped off a Mississippi River steamboat, and into a tiny town on the Illinois side. The townsfolk - noting the elegance of one girl, and the dark skin of the other - decide they are seeing a mistress and her slave, and go back to arguing about what really interests them: which of their boys are going to fight for the North? Which are going to fight for the South? The Pruitt family has the same concerns - and makes the same assumptions - as everybody else. But in wartime, everything can be turned upside down.

By Richard Peck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The River Between Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The year is 1861. Civil war is imminent and Tilly Pruitt's brother, Noah, is eager to go and fight on the side of the North. With her father long gone, Tilly, her sister, and their mother struggle to make ends meet and hold the dwindling Pruitt family together. Then one night a mysterious girl arrives on a steamboat bound for St. Louis. Delphine is unlike anyone the small river town has even seen. Mrs. Pruitt agrees to take Delphine and her dark, silent traveling companion in as boarders. No one in town knows what to make of the two strangers,…

Book cover of The Astonishing Color of After

Jill K. Sayre Author Of The Fairies of Turtle Creek

From the list on realistic fiction with a dollop of magic.

Who am I?

Like most writers, I am extremely interested in the “what if” factor. What if food ingredients could make a person feel specific emotions? What if drinking from a spring in the woods could give you a superpower? What if fairies really do take care of and grow all plants and trees in the world? I love to read and write about ordinary people, living everyday life, who encounter threads of magic. Influenced by reading books in the genre of “magical realism,” I love to explore how a dab of magic can be used in realistic fiction to emotionally affect the characters and story arc.

Jill's book list on realistic fiction with a dollop of magic

Discover why each book is one of Jill's favorite books.

Why did Jill love this book?

Fifteen-year-old Leigh is struggling to deal with the mental illness of her mother, that ultimately led to her suicide. A talented artist, Leigh deals with her sorrow by keeping away from others, including her best friend, Axel. Yes, this starts out as a sad story about loss, but the emotional journey Leigh embarks on is full of the stunning culture of Taiwan as she gains a deeper understanding of herself and her mother’s life. Not only is the diction wonderful in this gorgeously written book, but the symbolism behind the red bird who comes to Leigh repeatedly, whom she believes is her mother, is mystically poignant. When I finished this book, I returned from a world far from Dallas and was left with a true feeling of hope.

By Emily X.R. Pan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Astonishing Color of After as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Emily X.R. Pan's brilliantly crafted, harrowing first novel portrays the vast spectrum of love and grief with heart-wrenching beauty and candor. This is a very special book."
--John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down
An instant New York Times bestseller, this stunning, heartbreaking novel about grief, love, and family is perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Celeste Ng.
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to…

Native Guard

By Natasha Tretheway,

Book cover of Native Guard

Hollis Robbins Author Of Forms of Contention: Influence and the African American Sonnet Tradition

From the list on Black poetry.

Who am I?

I have been writing and teaching about African American poetry and poetics for more than two decades. My passion began when I kept discovering long-lost poems that were published once, in Black newspapers, and then forgotten. I wondered why I had never learned about Gwendolyn Brooks in school, though I’d read about e.e. cummings and Robert Frost. Once I stumbled on the fact that Claude McKay discovered cummings, I realized how much the questions of influence and power aren’t really central topics in thinking about the genealogy of Black poets and their influence on each other and on poetry in general.

Hollis' book list on Black poetry

Discover why each book is one of Hollis' favorite books.

Why did Hollis love this book?

Tretheway’s poetry, particularly her sonnets, are stunning and evocative and the main reason that this volume won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007. Some of the most powerful poems are spoken in the voice of a recently emancipated Black soldier who writes letters home for illiterate white prisoners of war. Whose stories are really being told by these poems? “They are cautious, dreading / the sight of us. Some neither read nor write, / are laid too low and have a few words to send / but those I give them” she writes, in “February 1863.”  Such a brilliant, brilliant book of poems.

By Natasha Tretheway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Native Guard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey's elegiac Native Guard is a deeply personal volume that brings together two legacies of the Deep South.
The title of the collection refers to the Mississippi Native Guards, a black regiment whose role in the Civil War has been largely overlooked by history. As a child in Gulfport, Mississippi, in the 1960s, Trethewey could gaze across the water to the fort on Ship Island where Confederate captives once were guarded by black soldiers serving the Union cause.?
The racial legacy of the South touched Trethewey's…

In the Country of Women

By Susan Straight,

Book cover of In the Country of Women

William F. Deverell Author Of Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy That Transfixed the Nation

From the list on family in California.

Who am I?

I am a historian of the American West and a professor at the University of Southern California. I also direct the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. I love the way very smart and ambitious family histories illuminate the fascinating (or sometimes mundane) lives of people in the past and, at the same time, use those stories to help us understand bigger-picture issues, eras, and all the turbulence of American life. That little-girl-in-the-well book I wrote is the first time I’ve attempted family history. It was so hard to try to get it right but, at the same time, exhilarating to think that maybe I did.

William's book list on family in California

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

Novelist as genealogist, genealogist as novelist. A fiercely loyal portrait of a range of amazing women whose lives feel as if they were fictional, but they were and are not. A tender portrait of several generations of smart and loving mothers, wives, and daughters whose California is not the place of wealth and glamor but rather of making do, getting by, and loving your people and landscapes.

By Susan Straight,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Country of Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year

“Straight’s memoir is a lyric social history of her multiracial clan in Riverside that explores the bonds of love and survival that bind them, with a particular emphasis on the women’s stories . . . The aftereffect of all these disparate stories juxtaposed in a single epic is remarkable. Its resonance lingers for days after reading.” —San Francisco Chronicle

In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women. In inland Southern California, near the desert and…

Prairie Lotus

By Linda Sue Park,

Book cover of Prairie Lotus

Sally Engelfried Author Of Learning to Fall

From the list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships.

Who am I?

Father-daughter relationships have always fascinated me. I wrote my first book to explore what it might be like for a girl to have a father with whom communication is, if not easy, possible. Although my own father was around when I was growing up, he was a distant figure. A mechanical engineer, he lost himself in ruminations on machines and mathematics and was made still more distant by his alcoholism. As a kid, I tried to glean from books what having a “regular” father might be like. I still haven’t figured it out, but I love seeing other authors capture the formative effects of this particular parental relationship. 

Sally's book list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships

Discover why each book is one of Sally's favorite books.

Why did Sally love this book?

This historical novel has been heralded as a fresh look at the era of the Little House books, and it does a wonderful job of looking at frontier life in Dakota Territory in 1880 from the perspective of Chinese-American Hanna. It’s also an examination of a daughter trying to navigate an often prickly relationship with her white father, made even more difficult after the death of Hanna’s Chinese-Korean mother. I love Hanna’s careful study of everyone around her—observances that are borne from a need to protect herself from racism, but which are also windows to empathy and understanding. Despite her father’s resistance to Hanna following her dream to become a dressmaker, Hanna prevails, using her knowledge of her father’s own nature to win him over.

By Linda Sue Park,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Prairie Lotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered novel about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend.

Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.

Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant…

The Bondwoman's Narrative

By Hannah Crafts,

Book cover of The Bondwoman's Narrative

Bettye Kearse Author Of The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family

From the list on notable enslaved women.

Who am I?

According to the eight generations of my family’s oral historians, I am a descendant of an enslaved cook and her enslaver, and half-brother, President James Madison. I am also a writer and a retired pediatrician. My essays, personal narrative, and commentaries have appeared in the Boston Herald, River Teeth, TIME, and the New York Times Magazine.

Bettye's book list on notable enslaved women

Discover why each book is one of Bettye's favorite books.

Why did Bettye love this book?

Though not published until 2002, after Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. purchased and authenticated the manuscript, the autobiographical novel The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts is widely considered the first book known to have been written by a fugitive enslaved woman. Crafts was the author’s pseudonym, and the novel, estimated to have been written in 1858, parallels the life of Hannah Bond, a woman who is documented to have escaped enslavement on a North Carolina plantation and who, like the novel’s protagonist, eventually settled in New Jersey. The preface and introduction of the published book read like a mystery adventure as Professor Gates reveals his multifaceted strategies to identify the real-life author and the real-life characters of her book.

By Hannah Crafts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bondwoman's Narrative as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Possibly the first novel written by a black woman slave, this work is both a historically important literary event and a gripping autobiographical story in its own right.

When her master is betrothed to a woman who conceals a tragic secret, Hannah Crafts, a young slave on a wealthy North Carolina plantation, runs away in a bid for her freedom up North. Pursued by slave hunters, imprisoned by a mysterious and cruel captor, held by sympathetic strangers, and forced to serve a demanding new mistress, she finally makes her way to freedom in New Jersey. Her compelling story provides a…

Some Other Now

By Sarah Everett,

Book cover of Some Other Now

Katy Upperman Author Of Kissing Max Holden

From the list on the magic (and angst) of first love.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading YA since I was a young adult myself, and I’ve always favored stories with a strong romantic angle. As a kid, I loved The Baby-Sitters Club’s starry-eyed Stacey and Sweet Valley High’s boy-crazy Jessica; as an adult, I flock to the romance section of bookstores and libraries. When the urge to try my hand at writing struck, I drafted young adult romances without even considering other categories or genres. I will always choose a meet-cute, witty banter, and sizzling chemistry over fast-paced action, clever twists, and high-concepts plots. When it comes to reading and writing, I love love! 

Katy's book list on the magic (and angst) of first love

Discover why each book is one of Katy's favorite books.

Why did Katy love this book?

This story’s protagonist, Jessi, remains one of my favorite YA protagonists; she’s the sort of girl I would’ve loved being friends with as a teenager. And the Cohen boys… it’s no wonder Jessi is so enamored with them both! A poignant narrative centering around unimaginable tragedy, Some Other Now combines two of my favorite romance tropes: the boy next door and the love triangle. It’s a story about best friends, broken families, and love in all its fiercest forms, written with thoughtfulness and lyricism.

By Sarah Everett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Some Other Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family - even if, technically, that family didn't belong to her. She'd spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had.

But then everything changed. It's been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played…

The Invisible Line

By Daniel J. Sharfstein,

Book cover of The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America

Lisa Alther Author Of Washed in the Blood

From the list on Melungeons and their history.

Who am I?

I first heard about Melungeons when a babysitter told me they would “git” me if I didn’t behave.  She said they lived in caves outside our East Tennessee town and had six fingers on each hand.  I consigned these creatures to myth and nightmares, until a cousin informed me that some of our shared ancestors were Melungeons and showed me scars from the removal of his extra thumbs.  For the next ten years I visited sites related to Melungeons and interviewed many who claimed Melungeon ancestry, running DNA tests on some. This research yielded my memoir Kinfolks: Falling Off The Family Tree and my historical novel Washed In The Blood.

Lisa's book list on Melungeons and their history

Discover why each book is one of Lisa's favorite books.

Why did Lisa love this book?

This book features a trio of true-life stories from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries about families whose ancestors were enslaved but who, by a variety of stratagems, managed to cross the color line and become “white” in the eyes of others – and eventually in the eyes of their own descendants. These stories illustrated for me the actual permeability of racial categories, hinging largely on one’s physical appearance and possessions.  In other words, the lighter your skin and the larger your bank account, the greater the possibility that others will allow you to be whoever you say you are.

By Daniel J. Sharfstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An astonishingly detailed rendering of the variety and complexity of racial experience in an evolving national culture."
-The New York Times Book Review

In the Obama era, as Americans confront the enduring significance of race and heritage, this multigenerational account of family secrets promises to spark debate across the country. Daniel J. Sharfstein's sweeping history moves from eighteenth-century South Carolina to twentieth-century Washington, D.C., unraveling the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America. Identifying first as people of color and later as whites, the families provide a lens through which to examine how people thought…

Wake of Vultures

By Lila Bowen,

Book cover of Wake of Vultures

Chantal Noordeloos Author Of The Outlander

From the list on the Wild West and the ladies who rule it.

Who am I?

My love for both the Weird and the Wild West started somewhere in the 90s. I watched many movies and adored playing Deadlands (TTRPG) with my friends. I picked this theme because most Western-themed books and movies were very male-orientated, yet I always found myself drawn to the heroines in these stories. While I loved characters like Billy the Kid and Wild Bill Hickok, I could better relate to Calamity Jayne or Belle Starr. During our Role Play game nights, I often played female gunslingers. That’s how I ended up creating Coyote, who inspired me to write her story in a series of novels. 

Chantal's book list on the Wild West and the ladies who rule it

Discover why each book is one of Chantal's favorite books.

Why did Chantal love this book?

If you are up for a little journey into the Weird West, let Nettie Lonesome be your guide. She is anything but the traditional ‘Cowboy’ being a queer, biracial, young woman. This book is a different kind of coming-of-age story—a tougher one, which really takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride. For me, the biggest appeal of this book is the main character. Nettie is a special breed of Ranger who discovers there is more to this world than heaven and earth. There are monsters hiding in the shadows, and Nettie finds she has a particular talent for dealing with them. When it comes to queens of the Weird West, Nettie belongs to be among them. Even if she does prefer to dress as a man.

By Lila Bowen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wake of Vultures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Wake of Vultures is, quite simply, brilliant. A mind-bending mix of history, fantasy and folklore, it's a wild bronco of a read that'll leave you breathless for more."―Rachel Caine, New York Times bestselling author

Supernatural creatures create chaos across an unforgiving western landscape in the first book of a propulsive and cinematic fantasy adventure starring ever fearless Nettie Lonesome.

Nettie Lonesome dreams of a greater life than toiling as a slave in the sandy desert. But when a stranger attacks her, Nettie wins more than the fight.

Now she's got friends, a good horse, and a better gun. But if…

Book cover of The Other Side of Perfect

Michelle Quach Author Of Not Here to Be Liked

From the list on coming-of-age about smart but flawed Asian girls.

Who am I?

I’m a Chinese Vietnamese American author who writes about the Asian girls I never saw in books as a kid. Growing up in Southern California, I was part of an Asian community that was extremely diverse—a reality that was rarely reflected in American pop culture. For years, I longed to see messy, flawed, fully humanized Asian characters in all different kinds of stories, not just the typical child-of-immigrant narratives. As a result, I now spend a lot of time thinking about representation (whether I want to or not!), and I’m always looking for writers who pull it off with nuance and realism. I hope you’ll find these books are great examples of that.

Michelle's book list on coming-of-age about smart but flawed Asian girls

Discover why each book is one of Michelle's favorite books.

Why did Michelle love this book?

The Other Side of Perfect is about a young ballet dancer, Alina, who suffers a life-changing injury and must learn to deal with her multilayered, sometimes unsympathetic, anger.

Even though its themes are heavy, I somehow couldn’t put this one down. The characters are so real (and often funny), and every conflict unfurls with realistic nuance, sometimes devastatingly so.

Mariko Turk’s refusal to simplify emotions—even when exploring painful topics like racism—earns this book a standing ovation from me.

By Mariko Turk,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Other Side of Perfect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Sarah Dessen and Mary H.K. Choi, this lyrical and emotionally driven novel follows Alina, a young aspiring dancer who suffers a devastating injury and must face a world without ballet—as well as the darker side of her former dream.

Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but then a terrifying fall shatters her leg—and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it.

After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly…

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Erica Bauermeister Author Of No Two Persons

From the list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books.

Who am I?

I've been book-besotted my entire life. I've read, studied, taught, reviewed, and written books. I went to “gradual” school, as John Irving calls it, earning a PhD in literature before gradually realizing that what I really loved was writing. For me, books contain the intellectual challenge of puzzles, the fun of entertainment, the ability to fill souls. They have changed my life, and the best compliments I have received are from readers who say my books have changed theirs. I read widely and indiscriminately (as this list shows) because I believe that good books are found in all genres. But a book about books? What a glorious meta-adventure. 

Erica's book list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books

Discover why each book is one of Erica's favorite books.

Why did Erica love this book?

Magical doors that appear out of nowhere, a fantastical book that may not be fiction, some truly sketchy villains, a quest, and an intrepid heroine.

The author had me at fantastical book, but what I love about this novel is the world and character building, that feeling of opening the cover and being somewhere that has nothing to do with ordinary life.

And yet, there is mystery. And romance. A lost father. A daring daughter. You’ll want to race through it, but slow down at the same time, just to savor the ride.

By Alix E. Harrow,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Ten Thousand Doors of January as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers, and the doors they lead us through...absolutely enchanting."—Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice and Lost Boys

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely…


By Nadia Owusu,

Book cover of Aftershocks: A Memoir

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From the list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Who am I?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

Nadia Owusu is the quintessential third culture kid, holder of a US passport, but born in Dar-es-Salaam to a Ghanaian father and an Armenian-American mother. Her UN-employed father moved his two daughters around through Kumasi (Ghana), Kampala (Uganda), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Rome (Italy), and the UK. Her mother left the family when Nadia was three years old and didn’t look back, save for a rare, short visit and some trinket gifts. Aftershocks is Ms. Owusu’s tribute to a loving father, but her upbringing was a shaky foundation that reverberated throughout her life, and provided the earthquake metaphor around which she structures her memoir. She weaves bits of political history and culture from the countries she lived in into her own story, comprised of the foreshocks, main shock, and aftershocks. It’s held together by beautiful prose descriptions, both of place and emotions.

By Nadia Owusu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aftershocks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this “gorgeous” (The New York Times, Editors’ Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the “incredible story” (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

“In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl—abandoned by her mother at age two and orphaned at thirteen when her beloved father dies—find her place in the world? This memoir is the story of Nadia creating her own solid…


By Fran Ross,

Book cover of Oreo

Emma Smith-Stevens Author Of The Australian

From the list on “funny-sad” contemporary novels.

Who am I?

Much laughter is born out of sadness. Humor can be a way to cope or even reinvent our realities in ways that bring relief—and release. There's a misconception that “serious literature” should be humorless; crack a smile and you’re a fraud. However, the worlds and characters that emerge from this way of thinking do not ring true to me. Who among us hasn’t joked to help deal with sorrow? Or to satirize the outrageous? Or simply because life--however brutal—is also sometimes funny? The more a writer allows laughter to intermingle with tears, the more I believe in the story, and the more I enjoy it. That is why I wrote a “funny-sad” novel, The Australian.

Emma's book list on “funny-sad” contemporary novels

Discover why each book is one of Emma's favorite books.

Why did Emma love this book?

Oreo (originally published in 1974, then out of print, and finally repopularized by Harriette Mullen and republished in 2000), a satirical novel by Fran Ross, a journalist and, briefly, a comedy writer for Richard Pryor, is widely considered to be “before its time.” This aching and hilarious, experimentally structured story is about a girl, Oreo, with a Jewish father and a Black mother, who ventures to New York City to find her father only to discover there are hundreds of Sam Schwartzes in the phonebook, and then goes on a quest to find him.

By Fran Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oreo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering…


By Tiffany McDaniel,

Book cover of Betty

Catherine McCarthy Author Of The Wolf and the Favour

From the list on a child who has a tough journey through life.

Who am I?

I'm an author of dark fiction from Wales, UK, who, for many years, taught primary school children. In my own writing I often gravitate towards the child’s point of view, and the same can be said of the fiction I choose to read. As a teacher I dealt with children’s issues on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes you wonder how these kids survive, or at least you understand the trauma they carry for the rest of their lives. But what about those who manage to rise above it? Those are the characters whose stories I love to read. The child lurks in all of us, and we must never lose sight of that fact.

Catherine's book list on a child who has a tough journey through life

Discover why each book is one of Catherine's favorite books.

Why did Catherine love this book?

Oh boy, am I glad I picked up a copy of this.

Although the cover did nothing to attract me, it turned out to be one of those rare books you want everybody to read. Even though it was quite a long book, at around 480 pages, I loved every single sentence. The plot, the references to Native American culture, characterization, you name it. Superb. 

By Tiffany McDaniel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A coming-of-age story filled with magic in language and plot: beautiful and devastating'
Observer, Books of the Year

'I felt consumed by this book. I loved it, you will love it'
Daisy Johnson, author of Sisters

'A page-turning Appalachian coming-of-age story told in undulating prose that settles right into you'
Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times

'Vivid and lucid, Betty has stayed with me'
Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Mercies

'I loved Betty'
Fiona Mozley, author of Hot Stew



So begins the story of Betty Carpenter.
Born in a…

Black, Jewish, and Interracial

By Katya Gibel Azoulay,

Book cover of Black, Jewish, and Interracial: It's Not the Color of Your Skin, but the Race of Your Kin, and Other Myths of Identity

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Author Of Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century

From the list on Black-Jewish relations.

Who am I?

I am a professor who teaches and works in the field of African American History. Because I am both white and Jewish, I’ve been repeatedly asked to give talks about relationships between African Americans and white Jewish Americans, and about what “went wrong” to shatter the “grand alliance” of the civil rights movement embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I had no answer, but I suspected that none of the stories that we had been told, whether good or bad, were fully true. So I went back to the sources and uncovered a complex and multilayered history. Black and Jewish collaboration was never a given, and underlying tensions and conflicts reflected the broader realities of race and class in the U.S. In the book I explored how these historical and political forces operated, and continue to resonate today.

Cheryl's book list on Black-Jewish relations

Discover why each book is one of Cheryl's favorite books.

Why did Cheryl love this book?

Not all Jews are white. Again, there are a number of wonderful books by African American Jews that remind us of this fact, and how often we use the word “Jewish” to refer only to Jews of European descent. Azoulay insists on confronting this unthinking racism head-on by reflecting on her experiences as a Black woman who struggled to feel at home in the Jewish community. Too often “Black-Jewish relations” as a phrase defines two discrete communities. This book reminds us that this distortion of the truth both erases Jews of color and lets white Jews avoid taking responsibility for challenging social systems that privilege whiteness.

By Katya Gibel Azoulay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black, Jewish, and Interracial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do adult children of interracial parents-where one parent is Jewish and one is Black-think about personal identity? This question is at the heart of Katya Gibel Azoulay's Black, Jewish, and Interracial. Motivated by her own experience as the child of a Jewish mother and Jamaican father, Gibel Azoulay blends historical, theoretical, and personal perspectives to explore the possibilities and meanings that arise when Black and Jewish identities merge. As she asks what it means to be Black, Jewish, and interracial, Gibel Azoulay challenges deeply ingrained assumptions about identity and moves toward a consideration of complementary racial identities.
Beginning with…

Iveliz Explains It All

By Andrea Beatriz Arango, Alyssa Bermudez (illustrator),

Book cover of Iveliz Explains It All

Jasminne Mendez Author Of Aniana del Mar Jumps In

From the list on girls seeking bodily agency and body confidence.

Who am I?

As a person who has lived with chronic illness and disability for over a decade, I've often found it difficult to advocate for myself because I was afraid and because I just didn’t know that I had a right to speak up. Not just in medical settings but also with family and friends. So often, others with “authority” think they know what’s best for us, but in the end, we know our bodies best. I’ve learned to set boundaries, say no, and advocate for myself as a means of survival. These five books are wonderful examples of strong girls and young women using their voices to protect their bodily agency and build their body confidence.

Jasminne's book list on girls seeking bodily agency and body confidence

Discover why each book is one of Jasminne's favorite books.

Why did Jasminne love this book?

Iveliz is angry and depressed, about a lot of things, including the death of her father. In an attempt to help Iveliz manage her anger and depression she sees a therapist and takes medication.

Iveliz knows taking her medications will help her, but what if the meds aren’t helping anymore? And what if seeing a therapist and talking about her problems isn’t what Iveliz wants to do? Why does no one want to listen to what she wants?

Iveliz struggles to say no and to advocate for herself and she pours all her thoughts and feelings into her journal, until she realizes that maybe using her voice is a better way to be heard. I loved the way Iveliz’s emotional journey and mental health are chronicled and treated with respect and care in this award-winning middle-grade novel in verse.

By Andrea Beatriz Arango, Alyssa Bermudez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Iveliz Explains It All as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEWBERY HONOR AWARD WINNER • In this timely and moving novel in verse, a preteen girl navigates seventh grade while facing mental health challenges. A hopeful, poetic story about learning to advocate for the help and understanding you deserve.

"Powerful." —Lisa Fipps, Printz Honor-winning author of Starfish

How do you speak up when it feels like no one is listening?

The end of elementary school?
Worst time of my life.
And the start of middle school?
I just wasn’t quite right.
But this year?

Seventh grade is going to be Iveliz’s year. She’s going to make…

The Color of Water

By James McBride,

Book cover of The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother

Steve Pemberton Author Of The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact in the World

From the list on demonstrating the power of the human spirit.

Who am I?

I’m most drawn to stories of overcoming. My own childhood was about exactly that-overcoming a multi-generational inheritance of family separation and orphaned children. When I wrote my first book about that story, A Chance in the World, an unanticipated magic unfolded: I began to receive stories of strangers from all across the world who wrote to tell me their own story of overcoming. Each and every day I hear from someone and the steady stream of those stories of overcoming affirms something I have to come to learn: we all have a story and none of us look like that story.

Steve's book list on demonstrating the power of the human spirit

Discover why each book is one of Steve's favorite books.

Why did Steve love this book?

Even a casual glance at today’s headlines will show how race continues to be a perplexing issue in our society. And it shouldn’t be. But we need examples of how to navigate the complexities of race and McBride’s powerful memoir shows us how.

His deep loveand appreciationfor his mother and coming to terms with her story while still standing in his own truth as a Black man is instructive and inspiring…and a reminder that there is nothing greater than love.

By James McBride,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Color of Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ 'A triumph' - New York Times Book Review 'A startling, tender-hearted tribute to a woman for whom the expression tough love might have been invented' - The Times 'As lively as a novel, a well-written, thoughtful contribution to the literature on race' - Washington Post _______________ MORE THAN TWO YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST _______________ From the New York Times bestselling author of Deacon King Kong and The Good Lord Bird, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, came this modern classic that calls one of the best memoirs of a generation and that…


By Eliot Schrefer,

Book cover of Endangered

Catherine Ryan Hyde Author Of Seven Perfect Things

From the list on animals by people who actually understand them.

Who am I?

In addition to being the author of lots of books, I am a wrangler of lots of pets. I live with a dog, two cats, a Belgian warmblood horse who I rode in dressage for many years, and his pasture pal who is a miniature horse. I’m known for writing books with animals in which the animal is a character, not a caricature. So many authors don’t seem to know animals deeply, and so just insert them in a scene like a placeholder. But every animal is an individual, and I try to reflect that in my work.

Catherine Ryan's book list on animals by people who actually understand them

Discover why each book is one of Catherine Ryan's favorite books.

Why did Catherine Ryan love this book?

This is my only other fiction pick. I read this many years ago, when it was new, but it stayed with me. We see a lot of relationships between people and dogs or people and horses, but this is a novel about a girl and a group of bonobos. That’s an interesting twist on the human/animal relationship, because other primates are so similar to us in their intelligence and approach to the world. They are mostly helpless against human forces, but then again so are young girls. The bonds formed in this book are worth the price of admission, and the suspense is high throughout.

By Eliot Schrefer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From National Book Award Finalist Eliot Schrefer comes the compelling tale of a girl who must save a group of bonobos -- and herself -- from a violent coup.

Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good.When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. Then Otto, an infant bonobo, comes into her life, and for the first time she feels responsible for another creature.But peace does not last long for Sophie and Otto. When an armed revolution breaks out in the country, the sanctuary…

The Obsession

By Jesse Q. Sutanto,

Book cover of The Obsession

Dev Jannerson Author Of The Women of Dauphine

From the list on dark, gritty YA for the omnivorous reader.

Who am I?

Two facts about me as a reader: I like books that deal with difficult issues, and I like reading a lot of them. There’s something about watching teens, for whom everything feels new, deal with the toughest stuff imaginable and come out the other side. I love a protagonist who has been through the wringer. Some people call these stories dark or morbid. I prefer to think of them as hopeful. My own writing history is as diverse as my reading habits. I’ve published in poetry, romance, and criticism, but these days I’m all about YA, like the politically-charged thriller I’m querying or my queer New Orleans ghost story, The Women of Dauphine

Dev's book list on dark, gritty YA for the omnivorous reader

Discover why each book is one of Dev's favorite books.

Why did Dev love this book?

Thrillers! At a time when the world feels so perilous, what could be more satisfying than a high-stakes story that’s fully resolved by the last page? Only one that’s also a triumphant revenge fantasy.

Delilah is sick of feeling scared. When she retaliates against her tyrannical stepfather and he winds up dead, it would be the perfect crime–if not for a hidden camera planted by her creepy classmate. Logan believes he and Delilah are meant to be together, and he’s not above using blackmail to keep her around. Told in dual POV between Delilah and the eerily calm Logan, The Obsession is fast-paced, riveting, and, if you’re new to the thriller world, an A+ introduction to the genre.

By Jesse Q. Sutanto,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fast-paced teen revenge-thriller from the author of Dial A for Aunties, The Obsession will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.
Boy Meets Girl. Boy Stalks Girl. Girl Gets Revenge.
Logan thinks he and Delilah are meant to be.
Delilah doesn't know who Logan is.
Logan believes no one knows Delilah like him. He makes sure of it by learning everything he can by watching her through a hidden camera. Some might call him a stalker. Logan prefers to be called "romantic".
Delilah is keeping secrets though, deadly ones. There's so much more to…