What She Read

Another year, another book list.

This year I found a new black romance series to follow, discovered the brilliance of Tayari Jones, read books that inspired film adaptations, and went on emotional roller coasters around the world.

My hometown Kansas City Public Library

My hometown Kansas City Public Library

Below is the complete list of books read this year, however, if you just want recommendations here are my top five:

What it Means when a Man Fall from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

A collection of short stories that quickly grab you and doesn’t let go until the last page. Arimah manages to create narratives and characters that sit with you long after you have finished reading. Short story writers have a gift and skill not many possess, the ability to craft entire worlds and robust characters in few pages, and this book does that and more.

BONUS: The GOAT LeVar Burton read the book’s namesake tale on his podcast, listen here.

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

A black feminist memoir is the simplest way to describe Eloquent Rage. I saw myself, my friends, and my family in Cooper’s retelling of some of life’s most memorable and character shaping moments. Cooper does what I can’t, she makes her rage eloquent through an easy to follow narrative of her truth and how it relates to the US and the world at large.

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

This is my second Baldwin book and we may soon be starting a love affair. His work is unlike any other, it’s as relevant now as it was when it was published, and though the book is short I read it slowly savoring every sentence. The story of Fonny and Tish is one that tugs on your heart and hits you in the gut all at once, and though they are the main characters everyone in the book is important. Also, I can’t wait to see Barry Jenkin’s film adaptation, the trailers are beautiful and captivating.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Though American Marriage is what introduced me to Tayari (you should read that too) it is Silver Sparrow that really struck me. A coming of age story form the perspective of two adolescent girls it touches on family, loyalty, love, friendship and more. Silver Sparrow is not only written well but the story itself is one that you won’t forget. If the first line of the book doesn’t grab you I don’t know what will:

My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This book starts with action and doesn’t stop until the last line. Children of Blood and Bone is a fun, fast paced read that I can’t wait to see adapted into film. Adeyemi creates a beautiful world and it’s amazing to see a YA fiction/fantasy novel set in West Africa- everyone is blackity black black. Told from multiple perspectives in the Land of Orisha where magic has been missing for years, we go on a journey wondering will it come back or be gone forever.

This year’s complete book list:


  • The Thunder Beneath Us- Nicole Blades

  • What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky- Lesley Nneka Arimah

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry- Mildred D. Taylor

  • Exit West- Mohsin Hamid

  • A Wrinkle in Time- Madeleine L’Engle

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing- Jesmyn Ward

  • An American Marriage- Tayari Jones

  • Children of Blood and Bone- Tomi Adeyemi

  • The Turner House- Angela Flournoy

  • Silver Sparrow- Tayari Jones

  • The Wedding Date- Jasmine Guillory

  • Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

  • The House on Mango Street- Sandra Cisneros

  • Loving Donovan- Bernice L. McFadden

  • Leaving Atlanta- Tayari Jones

  • If Beale Street Could Talk- James Baldwin

  • A Princess in Theory- Alyssa Cole

  • The Sun is also a Star- Nicola Yoon

  • The Kayla Chronicles- Sherri Winston

  • How to Love a Jamaican- Alexia Arthurs

  • A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

  • Training School for Negro Girls- Camille Acker

  • Binti- Nnedi Okorafor


  • The Passion is Pursuit Devotional- Cassondra Lenoir

  • I’m Still Here- Austin Channing Brown

  • Eloquent Rage- Brittney Cooper

  • The Four Agreements- Don Miguel Ruiz

  • A Defense of Calvinism- Charles Haddon Spurgeon


  • Electric Arches- Eve. L Ewing

  • There are more Beautiful Things than Beyonce- Morgan Parker

Charell Strong