Essay Collections for Black History Month

Read these essay collections for Black History Month (and all year long).

Every February, people in the United States honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans to the country’s culture and history. To celebrate, add these essay collections to your to-be-read lists.

Essay Collections for Black History Month

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on race, Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency and its aftermath, including the election of Donald Trump. This collection features essays first published in The Atlantic, including “Fear of a Black President,” “The Case for Reparations,” and “The Black Family the Age of Mass Incarceration.”

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Feel Free by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is known for novels like White Teeth, Swing Time and On Beauty. Her essay collection is divided into five parts: In the World; In the Audience; In the Gallery; On the Bookshelf; and Feel Free. It fields subjects from climate change to Facebook to why we love libraries. If you love Smith’s books, you’ll find the same deep insights in her essays.

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The Book of Delights by Ross Gay

Ross Gay’s collection has 102 chapters, with some entries ringing in at a single paragraph and others as long as five pages. The book is described as being about our connection to the natural world and each other.

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Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

James Baldwin is one of the most acclaimed writers of the 20th century. Also a civil rights activist, this collection of essays was originally published in 1955, but remains as relevant as ever. Read Notes of a Native Son for Baldwin’s insight into his life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies and African Americans abroad.

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Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom

A writer and professor based in Richmond, Virginia, Tressie McMillian Cottom’s first collection of essays covers a range of topics, giving insight on blackness, body image, beauty, Obama and even pumpkin spice lattes.

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Who Will Pay Reparations On My Soul? by Jesse McCarthy

Jesse McCarthy’s often experimental essays field a range of subjects, from art to music to literature and politics. It even investigates Ta-Nehisi Coates’s—mentioned earlier—case for reparations. Zadie Smith calls McCarthy’s collection “a very smart and soulful book.”

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STEAM Month is returning this March—and so is the reading challenge. Earn one badge for each book read in the STEAM categories. Adults, teens and children can all get in on the fun! There will be one prize given per age group. Register: cc-pl.org/beanstack. ... See MoreSee Less

5 days ago
STEAM Month is returning this March—and so is the reading challenge. Earn one badge for each book read in the STEAM categories. Adults, teens and children can all get in on the fun! There will be one prize given per age group. Register: cc-pl.org/beanstack.