This list was curated by Cree Myles, Milwaukee-based bookstagrammer and Founding Editor of All Ways Black by Penguin Random House.
There are infinite ways to be Black, and there are infinite ways to celebrate the Black experience.
One of the best ways to honor the Black voices and stories that are moving culture forward is through literature. Whether it’s nonfiction centered on social justice, culinary, romance, or science fiction, books by Black authors create a more complete cultural narrative. But not every book club — whether that’s in-person or virtual — puts Black voices at the forefront.
Penguin Random House partnered with Milwaukee-based bookstagrammer Cree Myles to create All Ways Black, a platform designed to amplify Black stories by connecting Black authors to a diverse community of book lovers. From emerging writers to powerhouses such as Amanda Gorman, Kevin Hart, and Stacey Abrams, All Ways Black serves as a dedicated space to discover new works by Black creatives and to celebrate all facets of the Black experience.
To help diversify your fall reading list, here are 7 book recommendations from Myles to add to your shelf.
Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
I hardly ever read romance or YA and picked this one up on a whim. And let me tell you… I did not move from my spot until the book was done!
The story follows Evie Thomas, a high school senior who had given up on love after the divorce of her parents. It sounds corny, but the way Yoon thoughtfully unpacks the central theme — does love count if it didn’t last — makes the story accessible and enjoyable for anyone regardless of age or genre preferences. She did a masterful job of keeping it light and lovey while adding depth and substance. You need it in your life.
*Watch Cree’s conversation with Nicola Yoon here.
Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor
Brandon Taylor is my favorite discovery this year. Filthy Animals is a book of shorts, though it spends a lot of time revisiting three characters we meet in the beginning of the collection. The characters’ interiors, the way the stories are so engaging even if they’re absent of some big climax, the title story, the fluidity in sexual orientations and relationships without it feeling performative or tokenizing… I have no idea how he did it, but he did it.
The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Ruffin stays true to what he knows, New Orleans, Louisiana, and explores the underbelly through a series of shorts that span time. As in his debut novel, We Cast A Shadow, he keeps us on our toes with cliffhangers and plot twists via a host of mostly women — and often queer— characters. My absolute favorites were “Caesara Pittman, or a Negress of God” and “Token.”
Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing
This book is new, but it’s a middle grade classic already. Ewing very intentionally centers and normalizes truths we often see absent in the middle grade canon — primarily Blackness and urban living surrounded by a strong community and love. She also masterfully keeps our protagonist Maya’s humanity — despite her brilliance and niche interests in things like science and robots — at the forefront.
*Watch Cree’s conversation with Eve L. Ewing here.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
How on earth do you talk about Beloved? With this novel, Morrison gave personhood to the millions of nameless people who lived a part of or all of their lives in bondage due to the chattel slavery of the antebellum south. I wish there was a law or something to make this required reading.
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
From where I sit, this is one of the most important essay collections ever published. The clarity of self that Lorde displays, to me, should be the final emotional destination everyone strives for. I revisited the essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” almost every day during the protest last year. She gives you the language you need to tackle fear head on.
Oh, this book was also re-issued last year with a pink cover and I stan.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
I’ve read all of Smith’s novels, and this one is my absolute favorite. It’s a campus novel that follows an interracial family that is working to rebuild after an interpersonal betrayal. I’ve never seen cringe written so eloquently. Also, it will always be Zadie’s character development for me. She can write anyone.