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Nine books to read even when it's not Black History Month.

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Although February and Black History Month have ended, here are nine book suggestions to keeping you reading throughout the year. As a bonus, all books can be found at the San Jose Public Library.

Sharon Draper's "Copper Sun"
Sharon Draper's "Copper Sun" www.sjpl.org

Sharon Draper's "Copper Sun"

Pick up a copy of Sharon M. Draper’s historical fiction at the San Jose Public Library.  This story of a young African girl taken into slavery and her daring escape will keep readers spellbound. It’s an award winner and a good read.  This also makes a great discussion piece with some of the questions in the back.

"Incognegro" by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece
"Incognegro" by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece www.sjpl.org

"Incognegro" by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece

This fascinating graphic novel can also be picked up at the San Jose Public Library.  It was inspired by some of the writer’s own experiences, but takes them to a new level. 

Our hero, Zane Pinchback, is a very light-skinned New York journalist who goes undercover to investigate lynchings in the south and report the stories via his “Incognegro” column.  Add the newest mystery, which includes his brother in Mississippi, and you can see how things get very complicated.

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes www.sjpl.org

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

A third read to be found at San Jose Public Library, this collection is not to be missed.  Spanning five decades and including over 800 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America. 

Here are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them.

"Letters to a Young Brother" by Hill Harper
"Letters to a Young Brother" by Hill Harper www.sjpl.org

"Letters to a Young Brother" by Hill Harper

As someone who portrays a successful doctor and investigator on a network crime drama (CSI:NY), Hill Harper is a recognizable and attention-worthy person in the community. 

Harper uses different methods of writing—letters, emails, memories, and straight talk—to discuss some of the questions and thoughts potentially lurking at the backs of a “young brother’s” skull.  He also includes his own history, thoughts, success and potential. 

The advice that you take away from this read - whether you are a young brother or not - is touching and useful.

"Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America" by Nathan McCall
"Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America" by Nathan McCall www.sjpl.org

"Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America" by Nathan McCall

Published in 1994, this story of a man who goes from street hoodlum to newsroom journalist is full of interesting insight into our recent history, something young people are rarely exposed to in any kind of setting. 

The book does contain a graphic scene, and the book is intended for a mature audience.

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston
"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston www.sjpl.org

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston

If by some chance you don’t read it in some high school English class, this is a must read. 

While the dialect is something to get around at the beginning, the descriptions and fascinating characters living in early 20th century Florida are well worth it.

"Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High" by Melba Patillo Beals
"Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High" by Melba Patillo Beals www.sjpl.org

"Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High" by Melba Patillo Beals

While we learn in history class about those that got the movement going, this book tells us about a person that the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education actually affected.

Her story of integrating and coping with that integration gives us a view into high school that many of us take fully for granted nowadays.

"Kindred" by Octavia Butler
"Kindred" by Octavia Butler www.sjpl.org

"Kindred" by Octavia Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South.

Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him.

After this first summons, Dana is drawn back, again and again, to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana's ancestor.

Yet each time Dana's sojourns become longer and more dangerous, until it is uncertain whether or not her life will end, long before it has even begun.

"Chains" by Laurie Halse Anderson
"Chains" by Laurie Halse Anderson www.sjpl.org

"Chains" by Laurie Halse Anderson

When their owner dies at the start of the Revolution, Isabel and her younger sister are sold to Loyalists in New York, where Isabel is offered the chance to spy for the Patriots.

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