I used to steer away from nonfiction before I found topics I actually cared about. The nonfiction genre includes everything from inspirational memoirs to funny, but poignant essay collections. More specifically, nonfiction books by Black women help us put a name to issues and topics we can relate with.
When writers get honest about their lives, nonfiction becomes a portal for us to see our shared realities. Read on to learn about 4 books we’re putting on our shelves. These reads will keep you informed, inspired, rolling on the floor laughing, and most of all — relating.
A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross
Did you know Black people were part of the expedition groups who explored Native American land in the 1600s before it became the United States? Did you know Black women were in those groups too?
In A Black Women’s History of the United States, Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross paint an expansive and rich portrait of the Black American woman. Berry and Gross focus on Black women’s contributions, heartbreaks, triumphs, and setbacks over the last 400 years. The book highlights the voices of poor Black women, middle-class women, sex workers, activists, athletes, and rappers to deepen our understanding of Black women’s history in this country.
Get this book for yourself and every woman you love. Remind them that Black women are woven deep into the fabric of the United States, indispensable from the American story.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
Samantha Irby doesn’t write openly and honestly just for us, she does it for herself. In her third and latest book, Irby talks about orthopedic shoes and uncontrollable bodily functions because, as she said in an interview with Rachel Lewis at Bitch Media, “when you’re honest about what’s going on with you, it makes it easier to move through the world as a creative person.”
Sam Irby suffers from Chron’s disease, depression, and degenerative arthritis. But she doesn’t shy away from what makes her who she is. Instead, her experiences feed the honest comedy found in-between the pages of her books. She keeps it real — cringeworthy real — as she discusses the ups and downs of relationships, step-parenting, and what the “perfect morning ritual” looks like for someone whose body isn’t the norm.
Pick up Wow, No Thank You, if you’re looking for something that will keep you laughing with every page turn.
More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
Several of us at Melanin Moi joined Brown Folks Book Circle last month for the club’s inaugural meeting to discuss Elaine Welteroth’s memoir-manifesto, More Than Enough. We recounted some of the major themes in the book between laughs, tears, and an appearance from Elaine herself.
Elaine discusses the struggle of fitting in at different stages in her life. She also opens up about balancing the glittery, glamorous version of herself with the real her. The story of her historic rise to Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue will not only inspire you, but it will also remind you that even the people we look up to are just like us with fears and hopes and dreams.
Get this book if you’re looking for something that feels like it was written by a big sister who wants to see you achieve your wildest dreams.
Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by Leah Vernon
Like Sam Irby, Leah Vernon keeps it all the way real as she embraces her past, her present, and everything that makes her who she is. In Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim, Leah describes her journey to self-acceptance.
She discusses her struggles with body-shaming and Western beauty standards, gender expectations and stereotypes of a “good Muslim girl”, mental health, and domestic violence. And like Sam, Leah finds a way to weave unapologetic humor through the book.
Pick up this book when you need to be reminded that you don’t have to be anybody but exactly who you are.
Also, if you’re not following her on Instagram already…wyd?
What nonfiction books are you reading? Tell us in the comments.