There are so many incredible books written by female BIPOC authors. We can not possibly name them all but, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite authors.
Whether you like contemporary fiction, mysteries, non-fiction, or fantasy, this list of books by female BIPOC authors represents some of our favorite books.
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Contemporary Fiction Books by Female BIPOC Authors
November 2022 Good Morning America Book Club Pick.
Wow. This was a searing and emotional look at the grief surrounding the loss of a spouse. Eve opens the book by explaining that her husband, Quentin, has committed suicide and she is picking up the pieces of her own life.
We are taken through the days and months immediately following his death as Eve navigates a mother-in-law from hell, reentering society, and a surprise left behind by Quentin.
Her feelings were all over the map and felt so deeply true to the grief process. I loved Eve’s Nigeran family and how they came together to try to put her back together. This is one book about grief I will recommend over and over again.
A Read With Jenna Pick for February 2022
I absolutely loved this contemporary fiction which is a story about love, family, and acceptance. It captured me from the first page with the story and the writing.
When Eleanor Bennett dies, she leaves a voice recording for her two children Benny and Byron. She wants to tell them things about her life that she could not say when she was alive.
While listening to their mother’s story, Byron and Benny learn about their mother, their family, and themselves. They try to piece their relationship back together. The novel looks at everyone’s life in the present and in the past, but in its essence, is a book about motherhood.
There is a secondary character who is also a professional swimmer, making this a perfect story for our books about women in sports. If you are looking for books for book clubs, this is sure to be a winner.
This contemporary fiction book tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze who are young and in love when they leave war-torn Nigeria. Ifemelu comes to the United States and despite plans to follow her, Obinze cannot come to post-9/11 America.
The saga takes place over a 15-year period when Ifemelu and Obinze are reunited in Nigeria. It is intense and deeply emotional. I read this book with a very heavy heart as it seemed like tragedy after tragedy befell these two individuals. This is one of our books about Africa that you must read.
However, with that said, this book is amazingly written and a true work of art. If you are looking for one of the best book club books, this would be your choice.
September 2020 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick
Covering drug addiction, immigration, racism, and more, this story is as entertaining as it is stimulating. Its discussion of drug addiction’s impact on the larger family unit was reminiscent of Long Bright River.
I also kept having to remind myself that it was a contemporary fiction story and not a memoir because the emotion and knowledge expressed in the book were so believable. This is one of the books about grief that you must-read.
September 2017 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
I have mixed feelings about this family drama book about motherhood. There was nothing I didn’t like. It is a great story and written really well. I think because of all the hype I was expecting to be completely blown away.
Nobody in Shaker Heights was prepared when Mia, a single mother and artist, rents a house from the Richardsons. When friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, the town becomes divided.
Ng has depth to her characters and looks at highly emotional issues. I ended up really liking the book once I got past the beginning and knew we needed to include it in novels about artists.
Historical Fiction Books by Female BIPOC Authors
Hula is not only one of the best beach read of 2023, but it’s also one of the best books of 2023! I picked up this book based on the cover and the thoughts of the hula dance competition, but instead of the fun read I was expecting, I got a coming-of-age story about a light-skinned Hawaiian who is trying to prove she belongs by learning to Hula.
But this Hula isn’t just a dance, it keeps the legends and legacies of the Hawaiian culture alive. Sprinkled throughout this story, while Hi’i is fighting to prove her worth, we see glimpses of her mother and grandmother’s lives, as well el as vignettes that explain Hawaii’s history, colonization, and the struggle of native Hawaiians today.
There is so much to uncover in this book, so many layers to absorb. I was entertained while reading it, but more importantly, I learned so much. I’ll be raving about this for years to come! This is one of the best thought-provoking books I have ever read.
How have I never read an Isabel Allende book before? SHOCKING! This is the story of Violeta, a woman whose life was bookended by two pandemics.
An ordinary citizen of South America, her life story swept me away. She goes from wealth to destitution during the Great Depression, experiences numerous marriages, and navigates the dramas of her children and grandchildren.
Ultimately, she lives a life rich in passion, loss, and joy. When the story ended, I felt like I was parting with a dear friend.
August 2021 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
Wow. This is one of the best books I’ve listened to this year, and yes, I recommend it on audio for a few reasons. We absolutely love this Oprah Book Club Pick
First, the different narrators help tell this dual-timeline contemporary fiction. Through one narrator, we learn about Ailey’s life as an African American woman in the 20th century. The other narrator tells the story of the female ancestors of Ailey’s going all the way back to her Indigenous, black, and white relatives from two centuries earlier.
Through Ailey and her ancestors, the weight of what it means to be a black woman in America means. The sacrifices, injustices, struggles, and harassment endured by Ailey and her kin in the present day and the past are explored with a depth so real, I forgot it was a fictional story at times.
The second reason this book is great on audio? It’s LONG. It clocks in at over 800 pages or almost 30hrs of audiobook time. The narrators sucked me in and those 30 hrs flew by.
I will say, this book made me consider my White Privilege in a way no non-fiction book could have. It’s a heavy story, but very worth the read and a great book for book clubs.
I adored Bennett’s debut book The Mothers so I was nervous to read her sophomore novel. Sometimes the next novel doesn’t live up to the first, but The Vanishing Half absolutely does with this wonderful and thought-provoking book.
The premise of this book set in the 70s is so unique. Two black sisters are so pale they can pass for white. One embraces her black heritage and her hometown, the other disappears into white suburbia.
When they meet up again 20 years later through their own daughters, the result is a stunning portrayal of the ties that tether us to our families. This is one of the must-read books about sisters and family drama books! It is also an amazing book for book clubs because there is so much to discuss.
I was blown away by the Cruz’s latest coming-of-age novel which explores her Dominican roots. 15-year-old Ana dreams of moving to America, envisioning a life of glamour, wealth, and freedom. She accepts the hand of a husband twice her age to fulfill her dreams but is in for quite an awakening when she makes it to the Bronx.
Her immigrant story was filled with strength and courage as over the course of a year-and-a-half meek Ana is molded into a strong woman. Miserable in her life, Ana is forced to choose between duty to her family and her dreams
This book is a sweeping family saga that tells the multigenerational tale of the Tran family. The author is a Vietnamese poet which is obvious by the beautiful writing.
Trần Diệu Lan was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Communist land reform. Hà Nội, her granddaughter, is raised by her grandmother in the Vietnam war. This is a beautiful story of love, family, loyalty, and survival, and was a beautiful book to listen to. This family saga is such a great pick for book clubs because there is so much to talk about.
This family saga book is an epic tale of a family through the generations. I absolutely adored the first half of the book. I felt like I knew each of the characters so well as I rooted for them and loved them.
Even though the book was close to 500 pages, I felt like the second half of the book was rushed. This is a rare occasion in which I wish there was more to the book, particularly the ending. I wanted to know more and to feel like I knew the characters as I did at the beginning. From Korea to Japan, this is an epic historical fiction novel.
This book is an award winner and the writing is undeniably wonderful. The story itself has elements of magic that add to the difficult subject matter. The story deals with drugs, violence, and poverty- all of which are completely relevant in today’s society.
The characters did not develop throughout the story as much as I would have liked, but this ghost book is a worthwhile read when considering the wonderful writing. The paranormal aspect makes this a great book for fall.
Mysteries and Thrillers Books by Female BIPOC Authors
Fall 2021 YA Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
I have not read many books where the central characters are American
While this is characterized as
Hello Dark Academia. Centered around Devon and Chiamaka, the only black students at an elite private school, this is one wild thriller.
After being chosen by prefects on the first day of their senior year, Devon and Chiamaka quickly become the targets of the mysterious Aces – a dangerous gossip girl-type character out to ruin their lives.
I was on pins and needles as this thriller unraveled, addressing systemic racism in private institutions in the process. If you love books set in high school or mystery books, you need to put this dark academia novel on your TBR list.
Who knew that Stacey Abrams could write a thriller while campaigning during an election year?
Well her debut thriller kept me on the edge of my seat. I had no idea I would find a legal thriller so engaging, but I really did enjoy this one.
I had no idea that when Supreme Court Justices get sick, they are still required to work.
Fantasy Books Written by Female BIPOC Authors
I love a good mythology retelling, but usually, I read Greek mythology. Kaikeyi is a retelling of a story well-known in the Hindu religion.
While I can’t attest to the accuracy of the tale, I can say that I was utterly captivated by the story of Kaikeyi’s life. I learned that she is a villain in Hindu but I found Patel’s narrative so compelling that I felt for Kaikeyi and supported all of her decisions.
If you are a fan of Ariadne, Circe, or other mythological retellings, you must pick up this book. It’s wonderful.
Why did I not read this book before now? In a way, I’m glad I just read this because I only have to wait a few more months for the sequel. If you love YA fantasy books, this King Arthur re-imagining is a must-read in our list of fantasy books for teens!
Bree Matthews’s mother died in a tragic accident and she cannot seem to recover. When she has a chance to attend a special program for bright high school students at UNC-Chapel Hill, she jumps at the chance.
When Bree witnesses a magical attack on her first night there, her world is thrown upside down as she enters the world of the Legendborn. It is a secret society of students with powerful magic who are also descendants of King Arthur! This is my favorite read from our list of books about secret societies and is a perfect dark academia novel to delve into that genre.
I don’t know what took me so long to read this amazing young adult fantasy book. I heard such great things and I did not want to be disappointed but, I was also afraid that it would be dark. Somehow, despite being about the god of Death, this was not a dark or heavy book.
Casiopea lives in her grandfather’s home with her mother who is forced to clean. She dreams of leaving someday. When she accidentally frees the Mayan god of death, he attaches himself to her and she must go with him to free him from his brother’s curse.
I loved this book and its completely unique story.
I really enjoyed this book and the original story within the pages. I listened to the amazing audiobook and I loved listening to the story the way that the story was intended to sound. We were so happy to include this amazing YA fantasy book in our list of books set in Africa. (Orisha is a mythical Nigeria).
When magic disappeared from Orisha, Zelie’s world changed forever. When the king ordered all the Maji killed, Zelie was left without a mother or magic. She is on a quest to find revenge and bring magic back to Orisha. This is one of the fantasy books for teens that builds a whole new world and brings young adult fantasy books to a whole new level.
This YA historical fantasy takes place in Paris in 1889 where coercion, magic, betrayal, and murder are the norm. At the Exposition Universelle World Fair is an artifact that will give the owner magical Forging abilities.
Severin and his fiercely loyal friends come together to take the artifact in the hope of also obtaining Serverin’s inheritance. Severin finds himself torn between his loyalty to his friends and his desire for revenge. I loved this first book in this YA fantasy book series.
Romance Books Written by Female Bipoc Authors
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Ana María and her sisters have been sent to London to hide from the conflicts in Mexico. As she tries to adjust to London’s high society, she finds herself enamored with a no-nonsense politician.
Gideon and Ana María’s love story was a breath of fresh air. Typically regency romances don’t address the diverse members of the ton. Witnessing Ana María’s struggles to fit in made me realize how much depth many historical romances set in this time period lack.
It is possible to have a searing love story set in a romanticized time period while still addressing the social issues of the day. I’m looking forward to the rest of the Luna sisters’ love stories.
Jasmine Guillory never fails to entertain with her romances. This is definitely hot and steamy and is a perfect romance to go on our list of fiction books about wine.
Margot noble works in Napa at her family’s winery. When she meets a very handsome stranger and they have a steamy one-night stand, she thinks she will never see him again until he shows up at the winery the next day as the new hire.
Obviously, this can become a very bad situation. The chemistry between these two is undeniable.
I was definitely not prepared for this book. Reader beware that it is the Rosie Project with a sprinkle of Pretty Woman and a whole lot of 50 Shades.
I did not realize that some of the scenes would be graphic in this pick from reverse grumpy sunshine romance books. Stella decided to hire an escort to teach her how to have intimacy with other people. This is the fake dating trope at its absolute finest.
It is a great romance with a neurodiverse main character and I loved it. This contemporary romance is definitely on its way to classic status and has a well-earned place on our list of best romance novels of all time and was an easy pick for a list of books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
This is the third book in the Brown Sisters trilogy and I adored this romance. Eve Brown is a mess. She switches jobs and careers on a whim and can’t seem to do anything right. When her parents cut her off and tell her to find a job, she finds herself at a bed and breakfast interviewing for a chef position.
After Eve accidentally hits the owner of the B&B with her car, she begins the job helping Jacob, the reluctant owner. This steamy romance was a perfect one-sitting read and perfect for our list of enemies-to-lovers books. These two really have a lot standing in their way. If you love this series, The Kiss Quotient Series should be next on your list.
I loved the first book in the series so much. I could not wait to read this second book that is not only a Jane Austen retelling, but a delightful pick in novels about food.
I loved this fresh take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It was so much fun to read this classic retelling and I will admit that it made me very hungry.
A cute YA romance about a traditional Indian boy and a not-so-traditional Indian girl. The characters meet at a computer programming seminar where Richi is supposed to woo his unsuspecting future bride, Dimple. This YA book is perfect for books like The Kiss Quotient. Dimple and Stella are both women in stem who know what they want.
They clash and connect throughout the story as they try to determine if they really are destined for each other. Their turbulent relationship is perfect for enemies-to-lovers books.
Non-Fiction Books Written by Female BIPOC Authors
A moving memoir of life as a Chinese immigrant in America. Qian and her family moved to America for opportunity, but hurdle after hurdle is thrown their way.
As her parents try to put food on the table, we learn about the immigrant experience through the eyes of Qian as a child. From her near-constant hunger to trying to acclimate to her new school system, Wang writes in a way that makes the reader feel what she felt.
Truly a moving account of her early life. I challenge anyone to read this and not wonder how broken our immigration system is. If you are looking for a coming-of-age book to make you think, this is the one for you!
April 2022 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
Viola Davis’s life story had me entranced as I learned what she needed to overcome during her childhood, college, and her early career to become the powerhouse she is today.
Her thoughts on life in Hollywood were enlightening. Her deep love for her family and her roots shone through. And her story made it very clear that she takes nothing for granted.
Viola worked damn hard to be successful and she deserves every accolade she’s received and more. Her narration even earned her an Audie Awards 2023 nomination.
While I’m always interested in the justice system, I often find non-fiction books about the topic to be dry, too technical, or just plain confusing.
But not Judge Cordell’s book which has a perfect balance of example-based stories and explanations of legal issues without the legalese that can be confusing to those outside the justice system.
Her detailed antidotes about her life on the bench were compelling and troubling, drawing me in, and forcing me to see that our legal system needs work across ALL divisions.
I spent most of my time listening to this book, which is narrated by Judge Cordell, and I couldn’t pause it. I finished it in one day while ignoring life around me.
Judge Cordell is the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court of northern California and is the definition of female innovator. We could not leave this pick off of our list of books similar to Lessons in Chemistry.
November 2018 Oprah’s Book Club Pick
I am so happy that I finally read this book. Michelle Obama is a brilliant woman who has such an incredible story to tell. I was intrigued listening to her life and her upbringing.
I listened to this book and was so happy to hear the story read by Obama herself. Obama is a brilliant woman and it was a pleasure to hear her story told in her voice. There is something about her voice that is so calming and soothing. This is one of our favorite non-fiction books about women in politics. As nonfiction books for beginners go, this one is a must.
I always thought that Mindy Kaling was hilarious. I am not a huge memoir enthusiast but I was excited to listen to this one. Mindy’s personal voice in her quest to find happiness and be secure with who she is was a really refreshing voice to listen to. She is honest, funny and relatable. And like any good comedian, self-deprecating but not in a “poor- me” kind of way.
I enjoyed this memoir and if you get a chance to listen, it makes it that much more enjoyable.
After reading White Fragility earlier this year, I immediately added So You Want to Talk About Race to my to-read list. While I found White Fragility to be enlightening, it lacked action steps and a first-person account of racism. This book not only explained how deeply rooted our country is in white privilege, but it also gave concrete action steps to take going forward. I have been recommending it to friends left and right as a book to really anchor oneself in what it means to be anti-racist.
YA Books by Female BIPOC Authors
What a fun read! I was eager to start a new Historical fiction romance series and the cover of this one drew me right to it.
The Davenports is a Gilded Age story about a successful Chicago Black family who made a name for themselves after slavery was abolished. Now the talk of the season, the three Davenport children are all looking for their spouses and trying to buck societal norms in the process!
Be warned! This YA historical romance book ends on a cliffhanger and the book is perfect for our list of beach reads 2023.
This fantastic and incredibly relevant young adult novel tackles the Black Lives Matter movement. Starr is straddling a line between two worlds. She attends a prestigious prep school where she is one of 2 black children in her grade but she lives in a poor neighborhood 40 minutes down the road.
She switches her personality so that she can fit in wherever she is, never truly being her whole self. When she witnesses her unarmed childhood best friend get killed by a policeman her entire life changes.
She needs to decide what to tell and to whom because her words can have dire consequences for her family and her community. It’s a truly wonderful coming-of-age story from thought-provoking books set in high school that all young adults should read.
After hearing a lot about this particular coming-of-age story, I quickly snatched it up, and let me tell you, the hype is real. This story is set in Philly (which I love) and features a Black woman of Caribbean descent who is entering her senior year of college.
Emoni wants to be a world-class chef but struggles with pursuing her passions in the kitchen while balancing the responsibilities of having a toddler. It’s a true coming-of-age story that is as delicious to devour as the many recipes described in the book.
This book is perfect for a list of books similar to Lessons in Chemistry because the two main characters have so much in common. Both are trying to balance career and parenthood and both are chefs! And as books set in high school go, this one is five-stars.
I love the idea of this story and there was so much about it that I loved. The exploration of a multi-racial identity from a teenager’s point of view is unique and powerful.
Naveah grew up in NYC with a Black mom and. a Jewish dad. When they split up and she moves to Harlem, she is forced to confront who she is and her biracial identity. She must learn to find her voice and discover who she is meant to be rather than who everyone wants her to be.
Even though this story is YA I think the story could have had a little bit more- I wanted more. This YA book set in New York is written by a Black, Jewish writer who has a unique perspective and is a must-read.
This Young Adult Novel is smart and well-written. I loved reading it. Yoon has done something very difficult with this book. She switches back and forth between a few different narrators and still manages to maintain the flow of the story.
This National Book Award finalist is the story of Natasha and Daniel. They meet 12 hours before Natasha and her family are deported to Jamaica. Where will their story take them? You can’t fall in love in 12 hours, can you?
Imagine if all your past crushes found out you liked them all at once. EEK! That’s what happens to the heroine, Lara Jean Covey when the love letters she wrote get mailed! While this is a romance novel, the series works for our books about sisters post too!
I love Lara Jean – she is quirky, cute, and totally reminds me of me in high school – except she gets to date the most popular boy at school. But their relationship is fake —- or is it? This is a great YA fake dating book and while not necessarily enemies by the strict meaning of the word, we wanted to include this in our enemies-to-lovers books. And you can check out Best YA Romance Books to Indulge in Now for more books like it.
This is an adorable YA romance that had my tea-loving heart at the title but, the story was sweet and had me turning the pages. But fair warning, you will be hungry while reading this book about tea.
Lila is leaving Miami to spend the summer in England with her mom’s best friend as a way to help Lila’s mental health. With the unexpected break-up with her boyfriend, her best friend leaving after graduation and the death of her beloved Abuela, Lila’s life is not where she thought it would be.
Slowly, with new friends and a new city, Lila starts to see a different side of life, and maybe change is ok. This is a sweet pick from our list of bakery romance novels.