Most people in the northern hemisphere despise February. It’s dreary, cold, confused—28 or 29 days? and it’s generally a very unsexy month.
But I like it.
It’s my birth month. Yes, I’m Aquarius. So according to the powers that be I can be summed up by these words— intelligent, creative, spontaneous, obstinate, unemotional and sarcastic. Sounds about right.
I like February because it’s the month we celebrate love. I know Valentine’s Day is a con engineered by Hallmark and rose growers across the planet, but still… Let’s face it, we need every reason to celebrate love.
I also like Feb (we’re on nickname terms now) because it’s Black History Month. That is the month when non-Black people purchase that one item of Black culture for the year.
We know we should be celebrating Black culture throughout the year people. Just like we should be celebrating Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and National Glaucoma Day every day of the year.
But I think Black History Month is special. We should read more great books written by badass Black authors, and this is one month we should commit to doing that. It’s a bit like the argument for watching Black Panther and Wonder Woman—movies that celebrate Black and female superheroes. Unless we spend our dollars on these movies, they don’t make money at the box office and producers (mainly white men) have a good reason not to fund such movies.
Same with books. Each dollar you spend on a book is a vote for that author. And the overwhelmingly white publishing industry is skewed toward white authors, as is the reviewing industry. Author Roxanne Gay broke down the stats for reviews published in the New York Times in 2011.
So without further ado, here’s my list of Black authors I plan to read this month/ year. I’m sure there are many more I’ve left out but hey… there’s still Mar-Dec.
Some of these books I’ve already read but have included here because I think they’re wonderful and everyone should read them.
And because I prefer first-hand stories, some of these, especially the memoirs about slavery, are available from Gutenberg Project for free. I’ve tried to vary it up between fiction and nonfiction and also men and women.
Happy reading and let’s Make February Great Again!