7 On Sunday: Books by BIPOC Authors On My TBR

In honour of Black History Month, this week’s prompt is a good chance to focus on recommendations or at least books by BIPOC authors that I’m planning to read. I was a little surprised to see that it was phrased as BIPOC and not specifically Black authors. I have so many books by Black authors that I’m very excited to read this year! To be honest, I generally don’t look at the race, gender, etc. of the author when I’m choosing books for my reading challenge plans so it’s not something that I’m really consciously aware of. However, given all the recommendation lists that came out last year during the BLM protests, I naturally picked up a ton of suggestions for books and many of them jumped straight to the top of my list to read this year. I’ve already mentioned several of my most anticipated, including Grown, Concrete Rose and The Cost of Knowing, just to name a few. I wanted to take this opportunity to mention a few more of the books by Black authors that I’m really looking forward to trying this year.

7 on Sunday is a new weekly project that was started by Grace of G-Swizzel Books, with a weekly topic for videos and/or blog posts! The official Goodreads group with topics can be found here.

1) The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

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For some reason, I had the impression that I’d brought this book up a lot already, but it turns out I’ve only mentioned it once before as a book on my wishlist, which was a Top 5 Wednesday topic back in December. I ended up buying a copy for myself not too long after. I think the reason I thought it was everywhere is because I had this book in mind for so many different reading challenge prompts, so I was seeing the name repeatedly on my own lists. This book is about twin sisters who grew up in a small southern Black community before they both run away at age 16. Years later, one of the sisters returns to living in the same town with her daughter, and the other is white-passing and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Something about this book reminds me quite a bit of Homegoing, probably because of the idea of following two different sides of the same family, and I’m really looking forward to trying it. I also read The Mothers by this author a few years ago and really enjoyed that one too. Let alone seeing this book everywhere on my reading challenge plans, I also feel like I’ve been seeing it everywhere in general lately. I’m very excited to try this one, and hope to get to it very soon.

2) Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi


Speaking of Homegoing, I was very excited to see a new book by Yaa Gyasi! Her name alone was enough for me to be interested in trying this one, even before I had any idea what it was about. This book is about a woman named Gifty who is studying neuroscience at Stanford with the hopes of discovering the scientific basis for the suffering she’s seen in her own family. Her brother was a talented athlete who died of a drug overdose after an injury left him addicted to OxyContin, and her mother is suicidal. As Gifty turns to science to help her figure out her family’s loss, she also finds herself returning to her childhood faith and the promise of salvation that it brought. I’m not generally a big fan of books that have a strong focus on religion (or on drugs, for that matter), but I loved Yaa Gyasi’s writing so much in Homegoing that I’m fairly sure I will love this one too. I was also very hesitant going into Homegoing since I also wasn’t the most interested in the subject matter before I tried it, but it very quickly won me over. I’m hoping to have the same kind of experience with this one. It’s another book that I ended up buying recently and plan to read relatively soon.

3) Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam


This is a book that I only very recently added to my TBR. I think I’d somehow mistakenly assumed it was non-fiction, and probably had it mixed up with Stamped. This book is actually a novel in verse about a 16-year-old boy named Amal who is convicted of a crime that he did not commit, and ends up being sent to prison for it. I don’t know much more about it, but I have seen some rave reviews for it recently, and they definitely sparked my interest in trying it. One of the authors, Yusef Salaam, was part of the Central Park Five, a group of men who were falsely convicted in a sexual assault case in 1989 and they all served years in prison for the crime. He was only 15 years old when he was convicted, and ended up serving more than six years. He was eventually exonerated as part of The Innocence Project thanks to DNA testing which proved that another man was responsible. Given how closely this book seems to resemble Yusef Salaam’s real story, I’m very intrigued to see how it plays out. I’ve recently started to become a lot more open to novels in verse in general, mostly thanks to Elizabeth Acevedo, and I’m glad I ended up adding this one to my TBR.

4) My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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I’ve been only mildly interested in trying this one for a while and finally decided to add it to my TBR for the year because it was a good fit for a prompt that I was struggling with. It is about a woman named Korede whose sister Ayoola his a history of killing her own boyfriends, supposedly in self-defense. Korede is a nurse who often helps to clean up after her sister, but her views start to shift when Ayoola starts dating the doctor that Korede also has a crush on, leading her to question whether it is finally time to turn her sister in. I love thrillers in general so I’m not sure why this one never really caught my attention. It seems like a very unique and interesting premise, and I’m also intrigued because it is set in Nigeria. I’ve rarely read any thrillers set outside of the US or UK, and I’m very interested in giving something different a try. It is also quite a short book, at only 226 pages, which is much shorter than I usually like for a thriller but I’m curious to see how the author develops the characters in so few pages. I’ve been hearing so much about this book for the past couple of years that I think it’s about time I give it a try.

5) Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender


This is another book that I’ve been weirdly hesitant to add to my TBR, probably because it was starting to feel a little overhyped. It is about a Black, queer, trans teenager named Felix who is taking part in a summer arts program at school, where he finds himself subject to transphobic anonymous messages from another student, who also publicly posts his deadname and pre-transition photos. Felix sets out to find the person responsible and take revenge, and soon finds himself stuck in some kind of love triangle in the process. What really got my interest in trying this one is when I started seeing some comparisons to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is one of my favourite YA contemporaries, due to the anonymous messages and attempts /threats to out someone. I’ll admit I’m still a little nervous to try this one because of all the hype surrounding it, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my reading challenges in the past few years, it’s that sometimes the hype really is worth it. I’m hoping this will be one of those cases. This book came up so often on other people’s best books of the year lists for 2020, so I’m hoping to love it just as much.

6) Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

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I’ve mentioned Early Departures by this author quite a bit, but I don’t think I’ve talked about this book nearly as much, even though both are very high on my list to read this year. Opposite of Always was Justin A. Reynold’s debut back in 2019, about two teenagers named Jack and Kate who meet at a party and very quickly bond. When Kate suddenly dies, Jack is somehow sent back to the moment where they first met, and soon realizes that he may have the chance to prevent her death, although he soon finds that all of his choices have consequences. This sounds like such a great twist on a YA romance! I know there have been other books that have explored this kind of time loop before, especially Before I Fall, and it’s a premise that can be very interesting if done well. I’m always a little nervous with this kind of storyline because they can get very repetitive, but I’ve seen some great reviews for this one so I’m excited to give it a try! I think of the two books by this author, I’m a little more interested in Early Departures overall, but they are both at the top of my list to pick up before the end of the year.

7) The Wicker King by K. Ancrum


This book has been on my radar for a while, but it wasn’t until last year that I really actively started planning to read some of K. Ancrum’s books, mostly because I saw BooksAndLala talking about them! I don’t even think I realized that this book was by a Black author until I saw The Weight of Stars, and realized that these were both by the same person. This book is about a boy named August who learns that his best friend Jack is showing signs of a degenerative hallucinatory disorder, which lead him to see an elaborate world on top of our own that is ruled by the Wicker King. Jack leads them both on a quest to fulfill a prophecy, causing August to also begin to question what’s real and what’s not. I tend to absolutely love books that really play with the idea of what’s real and what’s just in the characters’ minds, but I’ve been a little hesitant to try this one because I’ve heard that it is very confusing. I’m also intrigued by it because of the mixed media format, including drawings, maps, etc. and how the pages tend to get darker and darker as the story itself gets darker. I also tend to love books that have this kind of creative formatting, so that’s another strong reason for me to try this one.


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