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Black Voices Old and New

Black Voices Old and New

Celebrate Black voices during Black History Month and beyond with the 100 books in this playlist. From picture books to adult literary fiction and memoir to high fantasy, there's something for everyone in this list.

Playlist Tags: Asbury Book Cooperative genre: Non-Classifiable topic: black authors season: black history month

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Legendborn

The Legendborn Cycle

By Tracy Deonn
Narrated by: Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Length: 18 hours 54 minutes

Legendborn

“Everything has two histories. Especially the South. In "Legendborn," we discover at least one more history to learn about - that of the Arthurian Legend. A fantasy/mystery mashup set on a southern college campus would have easily drew me in on its own. Add in the premise that Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has secretly existed for the last 15 generations as a secret society to fight demons made it even more enticing. What made this truly magical is how Deonn gives us even greater depth with her #ownvoices authorship by also deftly highlighting how the modern day Black experience is still haunted by the lingering legacy of slavery in the South. She gives this experience voice through Breonna’s experiences of microagressions and blatant racism and more poignant observations such as the contrast of how easily the Southern whites can proudly trace their roots and family tree instead of the disruption and loss of lineage created by slavery for Black families. Grief tied more immediately to the recent death of her mother as well as these encounters of inter-generational trauma are addressed well throughout the story lines. A stellar sense of place exists with rich descriptions of southern culture, North Carolina and UNC Chapel Hill that could have only been created through deep personal experience. I loved that she created the implication that UNC was created and exists to be the stronghold and legacy of the Roundtable with us Onceborns not having the slightest clue. I immensely enjoyed the audiobook narration as it pulled the emotion and tension directly off the page in a wonderfully immersive way.”

Bright Side Bookshop image Cori, Bright Side Bookshop
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This Is My America

By Kim Johnson
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 9 hours 34 minutes

If you enjoyed The Hate U Give, then you’ll love This Is My America.

“This is My America depicts the effects of police brutality and corrupt prosecution practices in America. Although there are similar Young Adult books tackling racism and police brutality, This is My America distinguishes itself by focusing on the emotional, physical, and financial impact of mass incarceration on the Black family. Johnson shows how the KKK is not a piece of history long-gone, but is an organization continuing to hunt down and torture Americans of color. Johnson explores generational trauma and the danger of being complicit mainly from the perspective of Tracy’s Black family, but also touches on the generational trauma of being a raised to be a racist and the danger of being complicit in that role. These parallel stories of the white and Black family are thought provoking, without centering the white narrative. Along with the personal struggles explored throughout the book, the plot includes a mystery element as Tracy investigates who the real murderers are.

This book narrated by Bahni Turpin, one of my favorite narrators! Turpin brings such life to each of the characters in her narrations, and this book was no different. I would recommend this book (especially the audiobook!) to young adults and adults that can handle content including police encounters, off the page murder, off the page lynching, racism, Black trauma, hate crimes, and police shooting.”

Beausoleil Books image Endya, Beausoleil Books
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The Black Kids

By Christina Hammonds Reed
Narrated by: Kiersey Clemons
Length: 8 hours 55 minutes

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel is a unflinching exploration of race, class, and violence as well as the importance of being true to yourself. 

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of high school and they’re spending more time at the beach than... Read more »

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For a limited time, when you sign up for a new monthly membership with code CHOOSEINDIE, we’ll give you a bonus audiobook! That means you’ll have 2 audiobook credits to redeem from the start.

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Transcendent Kingdom

A novel

By Yaa Gyasi
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 8 hours 40 minutes

Transcendent Kingdom

“Gifty immigrated from Ghana, grew up in Alabama, and is working on a PhD in neuroscience at Stanford, where she experiments with mice. She has always felt she wasn’t cool enough or white enough, and tries to prove her value through her brilliance. She tells her raw and powerful story of racism, addiction, mental illness, and especially faith and prayer, all while trying hard to mend a complicated relationship with her mother. This second novel from the author of the award-winning novel Homegoing is compelling and so, so beautifully written.”

Wellesley Books image Sally Weitzen, Wellesley Books
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The Prophets

By Robert Jones, Jr.
Narrated by: Karen Chilton
Length: 14 hours 52 minutes

The Prophets

“I am at a loss for words. How can I even begin to describe the breathtaking language Robert Jones, Jr. has gifted us in his debut novel, The Prophets? How can I begin to explain how he achieves a feat so marvelous it almost seems impossible? Well, that’s the key word: almost. From his innovative restructuring of the Bible through the lens of America’s history with slavery to characters that leap off the page with colorful grace and dignity, Jones masterfully weaves a narrative that serves as a warning from the past, a prophecy for the future, and a testament to the present. His writing defies all great American novels that have come before, and in doing so becomes one of the greatest I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I can’t wait for everyone to be as spellbound by this book as I am; it will stay with me forever.”

Flyleaf Books image Gage Tarlton, Flyleaf Books
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Ida B. the Queen

By Michelle Duster
Narrated by: Michelle Duster
Length: 3 hours 43 minutes

Journalist. Suffragist. Antilynching crusader. In 1862, Ida B. Wells was born enslaved in Holly Springs, Mississippi. In 2020, she won a Pulitzer Prize.

Ida B. Wells committed herself to the needs of those who did not have power. In the eyes of the FBI, this made her a “dangerous negro agitator.” In the annals of history, it makes her an icon.

... Read more »

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One of the Good Ones

By Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin, Jordan Cobb & Carolyn Smith
Length: 9 hours 49 minutes

One of the Good Ones

“I am SPEECHLESS. I am still processing. But what I do know, without a doubt, is that One of the Good Ones is a must-read, a beautiful gut punch by a sister duo that is poised to take the publishing world by storm. Maika and Maritza manage to pack so much into so little, each moment its own universe, tackling the enormously difficult topics of systemic racism, police brutality, coming out to religious parents, epigenetics, and grief. The multiple perspectives across multiple timelines are simply perfect, lending so much to the greater story, and mystery(! I never saw that twist coming), keeping you reading into the early hours. But amidst the greater discussions of dismantling the institutions that uphold respectability above all else, there is so much joy too. There is hope. There is friendship that crosses oceans (or countries as the case may be). There is a road to recovery. And that left me with the best kind of tears in my eyes.”

Second Star to the Right image Britt, Second Star to the Right
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Amari and the Night Brothers

Supernatural Investigations: Book #1

By B. B. Alston
Narrated by: Imani Parks
Length: 11 hours 11 minutes

If you enjoyed The Trials of Apollo, Book One: The Hidden Oracle, then you’ll love Amari and the Night Brothers.

“This book was fun! As a reference point, I would say it's a Spy Kids/Men in Black/Percy Jackson/Harry Potter hybrid but honestly, it's in a class all of it's own. Amari was a wonderful main character. She is super smart and caring and despite the absolute terribleness of her peers, prevails by learning to trust herself and use her talents to stand out. There was lots of blatant and unpunished racism, classism, and and brutal meanness coming from the majority of Amari's classmates, both in the non-supernatural world and in the Bureau. On their first day, all trainees have to touch a magical orb and one of their already present abilities gets magnified and becomes a special ability (ie general luckiness becomes unnatural/always happens luckiness). When Amari is bestowed with an illegal ability, she becomes the target of both racism and a form of intense otherism in the supernatural world. I also loved her friendship with Elsie, who was the last of weredragons (like werewolves but for dragons!) and suffered her own share of bullies and otherism for being a bit dorky and for not having shifted to her dragon form yet. The audiobook edition of this novel was well done. Imani Parks gives a perfect voice to Amari and the other young main characters. This is a great read for juvenile readers (anywhere from advanced an advance 8/9 years to teens) and is fun and exciting for adults as well so would also be a great read-aloud book for guardians with younger readers. I would recommend for avid Percy Jackson and Harry Potter fans, those that enjoy spy or adventure books, and even those who enjoy fairy tale epics.”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Kimi, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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The Boyfriend Project

By Farrah Rochon
Narrated by: Je Nie Fleming
Length: 9 hours 41 minutes

The Boyfriend Project

“Smart, steamy, and fun! I listened to this one through Libro.FM and loved everything from the author's voice to the female friendships to the recognition that internet fame is an emotional burden. (I was also deeply amused by the fact that the male lead had lived/worked in Vienna, in the building locals affectionately refer to as "The Toilet Bowl.")”

Bards Alley image Leah, Bards Alley
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Real Men Knit

Real Men Knit series: Book #1

By Kwana Jackson
Narrated by: Keylor Leigh
Length: 8 hours 52 minutes

"If you're looking for an easy charmer, this is the novel for you."—Shondaland
 
When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop.


Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts. When... Read more »

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Wandering in Strange Lands

A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots

By Morgan Jerkins
Narrated by: Morgan Jerkins
Length: 8 hours 3 minutes

Wandering in Strange Lands

“In Wandering in Strange Lands, Morgan Jerkins brings us along on her journey to learn about her ancestors and herself. This fascinating ethnography leads Jerkins down paths she anticipated and, perhaps most interestingly, down unexpected ones. As she learns more about where and whom she came from, she confronts her image of herself and grapples with some of the truths she finds. Jerkens’s journey takes us first to the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia, home of the Gullah Geechee people, and then to Louisiana and its Creole people. In both places, she learns much about her mother’s and father’s families. From there, we travel to Oklahoma where Jerkins explores connections between Native Americans and African Americans, searching for information about the claims in her family of Native American ancestry. And finally, we land in Los Angeles, where Jerkins’s research culminates in a thoughtful and insightful examination of what it means to be Black in the United States. The history, the people, the insight, and the implications of the information in this book make it not only incredibly interesting, but also a significant contribution to our understanding of cultures and connections in the United States.”

Raven Book Store image Nancy, Raven Book Store
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Such a Fun Age

By Kiley Reid
Narrated by: Nicole Lewis
Length: 9 hours 58 minutes

Such a Fun Age

“What a beautifully rich and nuanced book! Emira, a mid-twenties educated but slightly driftless woman is working 2 part time jobs still trying to find her passion. She find joy in her part time babysitting job, finding her three year old charge a delightfully odd little person who keeps her interested. But things turn complicated when she is asked to take her charge to the local grocery store late at night and is accosted by the store security guard and a "well meaning" patron. Accused of kidnapping and unable to leave Emira holds her dignity and stands up for herself as another patron films the incident. Emira wants nothing more than to put the incident behind her but those closest to her have other ideas of what is best for her. This novel packs an emotional punch, making us question our own motives and wondering if we really have our loved ones best interests at heart. A perfect book group pick for those who like to focus on character driven stories.”

Books & Company image Genavieve, Books & Company
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How We Fight For Our Lives

By Saeed Jones
Narrated by: Saeed Jones
Length: 5 hours 34 minutes

How We Fight For Our Lives

“Saeed Jones is supremely talented, so I expected his memoir to be great. I did NOT expect, however, to be left immobile in my chair after reading that final paragraph, processing the beauty of his words and those indelible sentences he’s generous enough to share with us. How We Fight for Our Lives is a moving and intimate portrait of the writer growing up as a young, gay black man and trying to understand the complex realities of his identity. We also gain insight to Jones’ relationship with his mother, a story that left me in pieces by the end. How We Fight for Our Lives is raw, difficult, and truthful, and completely stuffed with love.”

BookPeople image Eugenia Vela, BookPeople
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Unexpected Stories

Two Novellas

By Octavia E. Butler
Narrated by: Robin Miles
Length: 2 hours 24 minutes

This exciting collection presents two previously unpublished stories by SF legend Butler. "A Necessary Being" precedes the events of Survivor, Butler's third (famously disowned) installment in her Patternist series, and includes characters from it, focusing exclusively on the Kohn, aliens who build their social hierarchies on the blueness of... Read more »

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Parable of the Sower

Earthseed: Book #1

By Octavia E. Butler
Narrated by: Lynne Thigpen
Length: 12 hours 2 minutes

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Octavia E. Butler paints a stunning portrait of an all-too-believable near future. As with Kindred and her other critically-acclaimed novels, Parable of the Sower skillfully combines startling visionary and socially realistic concepts. God is change. That is the central truth of the Earthseed movement, whose... Read more »

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Wild Seed

Patternist: Book #1

By Octavia E. Butler
Narrated by: Robin Miles
Length: 11 hours 9 minutes

DDoro knows no higher authority than himself. An ancient spirit with boundless powers, he possesses humans, killing without remorse as he jumps from body to body to sustain his own life. With a lonely eternity ahead of him, Doro breeds supernaturally gifted humans into empires that obey his every desire. He fears no one—until he meets Anyanwu. ... Read more »

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Kindred

By Octavia E. Butler
Narrated by: Kim Staunton
Length: 10 hours 54 minutes

The first science fiction written by a Black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of Black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably... Read more »

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The Vanishing Half

A Novel

By Brit Bennett
Narrated by: Shayna Small
Length: 11 hours 33 minutes

The Vanishing Half

“Within the first few pages of The Vanishing Half, I knew I was reading something special. In this slow-burn novel, twins Desiree and Stella grow up in Mallard, a small black community in segregated Louisiana that prides itself on the lightness of its people’s skin. At sixteen, the twins flee from Mallard after their mother pulls them out of school to work cleaning white people’s houses, sacrificing the familiarity of home, the safety of their community, and the predictable trajectory of their lives. In New Orleans, the twins begin their new lives together, but eventually Stella takes off on her own, choosing to live the rest of her life “passing” as white; Desiree marries a dark-skinned man, has a child who looks like him, and ends up living back in Mallard. The consequences of the twins’ life choices unfold throughout the book, from the 1950s to the 1990s, and include the lives (and perspectives) of their daughters, Kennedy and Jude. The Vanishing Half is a fascinating story about family relationships, identity, and belonging, and I savored every page.”

Phinney Books image Anika, Phinney Books
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