Nine books to read for Black History Month that don't centre trauma or pain

It’s Black History Month, so it’s the perfect time to add some books by brilliant Black writers to your reading list.

However, when a conscious effort is made to learn more about Blackness, people often fall into the trap of centring Black pain and trauma. The stories are almost exclusively about racism or anti-racism, slavery, poverty, crime.

While there is nothing wrong with reading about the history of struggle and oppression faced by generations of Black people – and these are important things to learn about – it’s vital that we don’t make this the only narrative.

There is so much more to Blackness. There is joy, romance, fantasy, sorrow, emotional pain that has nothing to do with racial trauma.

If you’re serious about engaging with the work of Black writers, and the stories of Black people – both historic and contemporary – it’s important to widen the scope of what you’re reading. Black people must be allowed to have unique, nuanced and multifaceted stories, just like white people do.

So, here are nine books by Black authors – fiction and non-fiction – that don’t focus on pain, trauma or racism. Get them on your bedside table, stat:

Black Joy

Edited by Charlie Brinkhurt-Cuff and Timi Sotire

Twenty-eight inspirational voices write essays in this uplifting anthology. A celebration of being Black British and an exploration of joy.

Buy the hardback for £14.99.

Luster

Raven Leilani

This debut work of fiction chronicals Edie awkwardly navigating modern life, through unfulfilling jobs and equally unfulfilling romantic encounters. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life, and we can relate.

Buy the hardback for £14.99.

Open Water

Caleb Azumah

Open Water is a beautiful debut novel about the sometimes painful depths of love. It has been described as a cross between Sally Rooney and Michaela Coel.

Buy the hardback for £9.75.

Who’s Loving You: Love Stories by Women of Colour

Edited by Sareeta Domingo

A stunning collection of short stories, spanning time zones and universes. These tales of romance and heartbreak centre those who are typically excluded from the genre.

Buy the paperback for £13.99.

This One Sky Day

Leone Ross

This atmospheric magic realist novel charts the troubled course of true love across an enchanted twenty-four hours.

Buy the hardback for £16.99.

It’s Not All Downhill from Here

Terry McMillan

This funny, lively novel follows 68-year-old Loretha who has a thriving career, a loving marriage, and loyal friends. But when an unexpected loss upends her world, can she find a path forward?

Buy the paperback for £10.99.

The Girl with the Louding Voice

Abi Daré

This New York Times bestseller tells the story of a woman asserting her own voice. Adunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl, risks everything for a better future.

Buy the paperback for £7.37.

Love in Colour

Bolu Babalola

Love stories that truly represent the world we live in are celebrated and retold in this unique and powerful collection.

Buy the paperback for £8.49.

Mr Loverman

Bernadine Evaristo

This sparkling novel depicts homosexuality in the elder Caribbean community in a way that is rarely done. We follow the vivid character of Barrington Walker as he struggle to admit his sexuality to his friends and loved ones.

Buy the paperback for £8.99.

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Black History Month

October marks Black History Month, which reflects on the achievements, cultures and contributions of black people in the UK and across the globe, as well as educating others about the diverse history of those from African and Caribbean descent.

For more information about the events and celebrations that are taking place this year, visit the official Black History Month website.

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