Books By Black Authors We Can’t Wait To Read In 2022

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  • Laura Coates
    American legal analyst

Welcome back to Book-ish, Unbothered’s hub for Black girls, femmes and non-binary folx who put the 'lit' in literature! An extension of Refinery29's #OnMyNightstand series, Book-ish is a space for Black people who love to read, by Black women who love to read. We’re excited to bring you content highlighting must-read Black authors and more — and we’re starting off 2022 strong!
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This January, we’re bringing you another list of books by Black authors we can’t wait to curl up with this year, and the lineup is noteworthy. From Akwaeke Emezi’s debut romance novel, to Danyel Smith’s illustrious deep-dive into Black women in pop, these are the books that Team Unbothered thinks you should be adding to your bookshelf this year.

Take notes!

<strong><em><span>Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor’s Fight for Fairness </span></em>by Laura Coates (January 18, 2022)</strong><br><br>From CNN senior legal analyst and SiriusXM host Laura Coates comes <em>Just Pursuit</em>, a true story about the former federal prosecutor’s fight for justice within the criminal punishment system. A vulnerable account of her first-hand experiences — how Black communities are policed differently, how Black cases are prosecuted differently, and how Black defendants are judged differently, among other harrowing realities — Coates’ book of reckoning arrives during a time when re-examination is crucial, for both society and ourselves.
Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor’s Fight for Fairness by Laura Coates (January 18, 2022)

From CNN senior legal analyst and SiriusXM host Laura Coates comes Just Pursuit, a true story about the former federal prosecutor’s fight for justice within the criminal punishment system. A vulnerable account of her first-hand experiences — how Black communities are policed differently, how Black cases are prosecuted differently, and how Black defendants are judged differently, among other harrowing realities — Coates’ book of reckoning arrives during a time when re-examination is crucial, for both society and ourselves.
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Audible-Carolina-Built/dp/B0997XSTNF/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Carolina Built" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Carolina Built </a></em>by Kianna Alexander (February 1, 2022)</strong><br><br>Based on the life of the awe-inspiring Josephine N. Leary, Kianna Alexander’s <em>Carolina Built </em>tells the previously untold story of the real estate luminary’s climb to freedom. Readers are invited to follow Leary after emancipation in North Carolina as she chases her dreams and equips herself with the tools she needs to be a successful businesswoman in real estate. Building a legacy becomes challenging amidst maintaining a marriage and caring for her daughters, but she pushes forward against all odds — as Black women remarkably do.
Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander (February 1, 2022)

Based on the life of the awe-inspiring Josephine N. Leary, Kianna Alexander’s Carolina Built tells the previously untold story of the real estate luminary’s climb to freedom. Readers are invited to follow Leary after emancipation in North Carolina as she chases her dreams and equips herself with the tools she needs to be a successful businesswoman in real estate. Building a legacy becomes challenging amidst maintaining a marriage and caring for her daughters, but she pushes forward against all odds — as Black women remarkably do.
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Last-Suspicious-Holdout-Stories/dp/B09BBJX6WV/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Last Suspicious Holdout" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Last Suspicious Holdout </a></em>by Ladee Hubbard (March 8, 2022)</strong><br><br>Critically acclaimed <em>Rib King</em> author Ladee Hubbard returns with <em>The Last Suspicious Holdout</em>, a riveting collection of stories about Black people navigating a post-racial period in what the book calls a “sliver of southern suburbia.” Alice Randall, author of <em>Black Bottom Saints</em>, stated: "Keenly observed, both in exterior details and interior psychological realities, Ladee Hubbard’s short stories capture the absurd, charming, brave, beautiful, and grotesque acts that are the pivot points of specific Black lives. With prose bone spare and elegant, she reveals the swagger required to keep seeing and to be seen." If you’re looking for a page-turner to cozy up with, look no further.
The Last Suspicious Holdout by Ladee Hubbard (March 8, 2022)

Critically acclaimed Rib King author Ladee Hubbard returns with The Last Suspicious Holdout, a riveting collection of stories about Black people navigating a post-racial period in what the book calls a “sliver of southern suburbia.” Alice Randall, author of Black Bottom Saints, stated: "Keenly observed, both in exterior details and interior psychological realities, Ladee Hubbard’s short stories capture the absurd, charming, brave, beautiful, and grotesque acts that are the pivot points of specific Black lives. With prose bone spare and elegant, she reveals the swagger required to keep seeing and to be seen." If you’re looking for a page-turner to cozy up with, look no further.
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Things-Past-Telling-A-Novel/dp/B099Y3KYXZ/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Things Past Telling" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Things Past Telling</a></em> by Sheila Williams (March 15, 2022)</strong><br><br>Sheila Williams, author of <em>The Secret Woman</em>, captivates readers in this romance-meets-drama. Described as a historical epic with nods to <em>Roots</em> and <em>Barracoon</em>, <em>Things Past Telling</em> follows Maryam Prescilla Grace aka “Momma Grace” during her life of over 100 years. We watch her rise above race and class barriers with the turning of each page, but her journey doesn’t come without hardship; she must deal with loss, too — of her family, her culture, and so much more. Even so, she never forgets who she is, and it’s her tenacity that will surely be an inspiration for many.
Things Past Telling by Sheila Williams (March 15, 2022)

Sheila Williams, author of The Secret Woman, captivates readers in this romance-meets-drama. Described as a historical epic with nods to Roots and Barracoon, Things Past Telling follows Maryam Prescilla Grace aka “Momma Grace” during her life of over 100 years. We watch her rise above race and class barriers with the turning of each page, but her journey doesn’t come without hardship; she must deal with loss, too — of her family, her culture, and so much more. Even so, she never forgets who she is, and it’s her tenacity that will surely be an inspiration for many.
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Woman-Endurance-Novel/dp/B09GL2FRHZ/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:A Woman of Endurance" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">A Woman of Endurance</a></em> by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa (April 12, 2022)</strong><br><br>Momma Grace isn’t the only woman of endurance. In this novel of the same name, author Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa takes on the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade as experienced by Pola, an African woman who is captured and later sold as a breeder to bear more slaves. As her babies are taken away from her right after their birth, Pola loses parts of herself. But <em>A Woman of Endurance </em>shows us how one woman’s warrior spirit ushers her through healing and, ultimately, helps her find her way to love in all its forms.
A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa (April 12, 2022)

Momma Grace isn’t the only woman of endurance. In this novel of the same name, author Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa takes on the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade as experienced by Pola, an African woman who is captured and later sold as a breeder to bear more slaves. As her babies are taken away from her right after their birth, Pola loses parts of herself. But A Woman of Endurance shows us how one woman’s warrior spirit ushers her through healing and, ultimately, helps her find her way to love in all its forms.
<em><strong><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shine-Bright-Personal-History-Black/dp/0593132718/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women In Pop" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women In Pop</a></strong></em><strong> by Danyel Smith (April 19, 2022)</strong><br><br>From former VIBE editor-in-chief and music industry veteran Danyel Smith comes <em>Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women In Pop</em>. The book is just as its title suggests: a deep dive into the Black women who shaped pop music’s history and its lasting impact. Smith is someone who’s seen the ins-and-outs of the industry and she holds nothing back, giving a blunt and spirited account of the oppression Black women have faced in the music world over time. “If you are a Black woman artist? In addition to being robbed, you must appear strong… all of this is known and documented, yet little changes,” she writes. “And then, because she loves her craft and it is her livelihood, the Black woman artist, on alternate nights, must sing the body electric and sing the blues because she’s got them bad.”
Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women In Pop by Danyel Smith (April 19, 2022)

From former VIBE editor-in-chief and music industry veteran Danyel Smith comes Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women In Pop. The book is just as its title suggests: a deep dive into the Black women who shaped pop music’s history and its lasting impact. Smith is someone who’s seen the ins-and-outs of the industry and she holds nothing back, giving a blunt and spirited account of the oppression Black women have faced in the music world over time. “If you are a Black woman artist? In addition to being robbed, you must appear strong… all of this is known and documented, yet little changes,” she writes. “And then, because she loves her craft and it is her livelihood, the Black woman artist, on alternate nights, must sing the body electric and sing the blues because she’s got them bad.”
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Memory-Librarian-Other-Stories-Computer-ebook/dp/B09B4Q9MXT/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer </a></em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Memory-Librarian-Other-Stories-Computer-ebook/dp/B09B4Q9MXT/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:by" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">by</a> Janelle Monáe (April 19, 2022)</strong><br><br>A short story collection based on the Afrofuturistic world of <em>Dirty Computer,</em> Janelle Monáe’s <em>The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer </em>will feature stories written by by the eight-time Grammy-nominated recording artist, along with female and non-binary authors. "Sci-fi and Afrofuturism have nurtured my imagination for many moons," <a href="https://people.com/music/janelle-monae-pens-book-based-on-afrofuturistic-world-of-dirty-computer/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Monáe told PEOPLE in December" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Monáe told PEOPLE in December</a>. "It's an honor to be working in these genres to create stories that I hope make all the dirty computers around the world feel seen."
The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe (April 19, 2022)

A short story collection based on the Afrofuturistic world of Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe’s The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer will feature stories written by by the eight-time Grammy-nominated recording artist, along with female and non-binary authors. "Sci-fi and Afrofuturism have nurtured my imagination for many moons," Monáe told PEOPLE in December. "It's an honor to be working in these genres to create stories that I hope make all the dirty computers around the world feel seen."
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Made-Fool-Death-Your-Beauty/dp/B09P5C9NYQ/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty</a> </em>by Akwaeke Emezi  (May 24, 2022)</strong><br><br>Words can’t express how ecstatic we are to read Akwaeke Emezi’s debut romance novel. In <em>You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty</em>, we’re introduced to artist Feyi Adekola, who’s finally finding her way back to herself after losing the love of her life in a car accident. And she seemingly has it all: a healed heart, her own artist studio, and a brownstone apartment that she shares with her BFF. But when she finally jumps back into dating and starts seeing a great guy, she finds herself meeting eyes with a forbidden love. The conundrum begs the question: what is she willing to do for another go at love? And has she really let go of her past?
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (May 24, 2022)

Words can’t express how ecstatic we are to read Akwaeke Emezi’s debut romance novel. In You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, we’re introduced to artist Feyi Adekola, who’s finally finding her way back to herself after losing the love of her life in a car accident. And she seemingly has it all: a healed heart, her own artist studio, and a brownstone apartment that she shares with her BFF. But when she finally jumps back into dating and starts seeing a great guy, she finds herself meeting eyes with a forbidden love. The conundrum begs the question: what is she willing to do for another go at love? And has she really let go of her past?
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Radio-Ebony-Ladelle/dp/1665908157/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Love Radio" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Love Radio</a> </em>by Ebony LaDelle (May 31, 2022)</strong><br> <br>We love a good YA romance, and Ebony LaDelle’s <em>Love Radio</em> is no exception. Touted as <em>Hitch</em> meets <em>The Sun Is Also a Star</em>, LaDelle’s love story chronicles the spark between Prince Jones (who has his own segment on a popular Detroit radio show called “Love Radio”) and Dani Ford. Dani isn’t looking for love when we meet her. Instead, she’s focused on school and making things happen for herself. But the connection between her and Prince is undeniable when they meet. And, well, you can probably guess how the rest of the story goes.
Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle (May 31, 2022)

We love a good YA romance, and Ebony LaDelle’s Love Radio is no exception. Touted as Hitch meets The Sun Is Also a Star, LaDelle’s love story chronicles the spark between Prince Jones (who has his own segment on a popular Detroit radio show called “Love Radio”) and Dani Ford. Dani isn’t looking for love when we meet her. Instead, she’s focused on school and making things happen for herself. But the connection between her and Prince is undeniable when they meet. And, well, you can probably guess how the rest of the story goes.
<strong><em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Morning-Love-A-Novel/dp/B09M6CSK5V/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Good Morning, Love" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Good Morning, Love </a></em>by Ashley M. Coleman (June 21, 2022)</strong><br><br>Another charming read, Ashley M. Coleman’s <em>Good Morning, Love</em> takes us on a ride through New York City, where musician and songwriter Carlisa “Carli” Henton is hoping to make her big break. She’s found a good balance between work and her dreams, that is until (of course) she meets rising star Tau Anderson. Tau throws her work-life boundaries all out of whack, and now she must figure out how to maintain equilibrium. Described as the perfect read for fans of <em>My (Not So) Perfect Life </em>and Jasmine Guillory’s<em> While We Were Dating, </em>Coleman’s debut is a fitting book to keep on your nightstand as an absorbing bedtime story (just don’t stay up too late).
Good Morning, Love by Ashley M. Coleman (June 21, 2022)

Another charming read, Ashley M. Coleman’s Good Morning, Love takes us on a ride through New York City, where musician and songwriter Carlisa “Carli” Henton is hoping to make her big break. She’s found a good balance between work and her dreams, that is until (of course) she meets rising star Tau Anderson. Tau throws her work-life boundaries all out of whack, and now she must figure out how to maintain equilibrium. Described as the perfect read for fans of My (Not So) Perfect Life and Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating, Coleman’s debut is a fitting book to keep on your nightstand as an absorbing bedtime story (just don’t stay up too late).
<strong>Bonus: <em><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Final-Revival-Opal-Nev/dp/B08LQPKXMP/ref=sr_1_1?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Final Revival of Opal & Nev" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Final Revival of Opal & Nev</a></em> by Dawnie Walton</strong><br><br>This one actually came out last year, but it comes so highly regarded that we'd be remiss if we didn't give it an honorable mention. Simon & Schuster calls Dawnie Walton's <em>The Final Revival of Opal & Nev</em> "an electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour." And the protagonist, Opal, is described as Afropunk before the term even existed. Absolutely, positively count us in.
Bonus: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

This one actually came out last year, but it comes so highly regarded that we'd be remiss if we didn't give it an honorable mention. Simon & Schuster calls Dawnie Walton's The Final Revival of Opal & Nev "an electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour." And the protagonist, Opal, is described as Afropunk before the term even existed. Absolutely, positively count us in.

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