Diary of a Bookworm: Black representation in book community

Black authors, readers and creators share their favorites through social media


Julie Blunt

Books like “Legendborn” and “Seven Days in June” are popular novels that can be found on #Blackbooktok. (Graphic created in Canva by Julie Blunt)

Julie Blunt

Dear diary, if you really search for what you’re looking for, you’ll find it. 

A lot of the trending books on #Booktok are predominantly white authors and stories. However, there are so many wonderful Black authors and books out there that should be recognized.

#Blackbooktok is a trending hashtag on TikTok that Black book enthusiasts use to promote their favorite authors and books. 

In this diary entry, I’ve compiled a list of books from #Blackbooktok that are popular amongst the community or seem interesting to read. 

I’m still working on diversifying my to-be-read list and I plan to read these novels when the time comes. 

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

I’m always a sucker for a good young adult fantasy-romance and that’s what “Blood Like Magic” by Liselle Sambury is. 

Voya Thomas is a young witch who will do whatever it takes to save her family. But when she’s given the task to kill her first love in order to save her family, she feels defeated because she’s never been in love.

Liselle Sambury said that she has “an overall deep desire to see Black girls with magic in books” and that she wrote this novel incorporating parts of her family experiences and history. 

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn 

The young adult fantasy novel “Legendborn” by Tracy Deonn is a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2020 which, from what I’ve seen, is deservedly so.

16-year-old Bree Matthews witnesses a secret society of students, called “Legendborn,” hunt a flying demon-like creature during her first day at her new academy.

When Merlin, a member of the society, tries to wipe Bree’s memory and fails, she discovers a whole new realm of magic and powers she holds. 

A young adult fantasy with a hint of romance that is also a retelling of King Arthur? Sign me up!

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett is a historical fiction of two identical twins living two different lives, socially and culturally, between the 1950’s as children and the 1990’s as adults. 

The Vignes twins escape their small-town Black community at the age of 16.

Years later,  one sister lives in the same small town with her Black daughter while the other is living with her white husband, passing as white. 

This book has been on my to-be-read list since I first found it in a bookstore last year, but I never picked it up and read it — like most books on my list. 

Bennett’s novel touches on topics including colorism, classism, identity issues, racism and bigotry. 

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen 

Tabitha Walker has everything she could’ve wanted as a Black woman by the time she’s 33-years-old.

Educated, financially stable, employed with the local paper and in a solid relationship, she receives unexpected news that may jeopardize everything she’s built.

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted” by Jayne Allen is the first book in a series of three novels consisting of “Black Girls Must be Magic” and “Black Girls Must Have it All.”

One reader writes that the novel “portrays the challenges of women to maintain their integrity of self and exert agency from multiple angles: career opportunities, proactive medical and mental health advocacy, family obligations and romantic relationships.”

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson 

Open Water” by Caleb Azumah Nelson is a novella telling the story of two lovers — both artists and Black — just trying to make their way in a challenging city.

One reader says “It explores identity, what it is to be a young Black Londoner, the nature of masculinity, the excruciating exhaustion, fragmentation and trauma of racism, the police brutality, and of constantly not being seen, only perceived as being the “Black other.”

This novella is aimed at novice readers who may want to ease their way into reading romance that might have tough subject matter, as novellas are shorter in length than normal romance novels. 

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams 

If you haven’t noticed by now, romance is one of my favorite genres, which I’m highly anticipating reading “Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams. The novel was nominated in 2021 by the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica author who runs into Shane Hall, an award-winning literary author who coincidentally is Eva’s old love.

One week during summer when both Eva and Shane were in high school, they fell in love. 

Twenty years later, they still secretly write to one another through their novels. 

A second chance love story that plays on the idea of Black motherhood is definitely at the top of my list for 2023 reads.

Now that I’ve spent time listening to what readers are saying on #Blackbooktok, I have plenty of new books on my to-read list so I can continue to celebrate Black authors throughout the year. 

Sincerely, a bookworm.