Happy Women’s Equality Day!! Women’s Equality Day is a celebration of the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment, which formally gave women the right to vote, bringing a centuries-old struggle for women’s suffrage to a triumphant end.
But we still have so far to go. 2020 has been a grim reminder of the racial discrimination that persists to this day in the United States. And women all around the world are still being downtrodden, from countries where gender inequality is upheld by virtue of law — though virtue is not a word that I would use in this situation* — to the ubiquitous glass ceiling discouraging women in business every single day.
So today, to commemorate how far we’ve come and to remind ourselves of how far we still have to go, I’m bringing you 19 books by female BIPOC authors to add to your TBR. Hopefully, you find books that you can enjoy while supporting a greater cause at the same time!
*I’m sorry. It fit the situation perfectly.
Legend by Marie Lu
Legend is a classic YA dystopian novel. I devoured this trilogy back when I was in my dystopian phase, and although it has its clichéd moments, you should still give this series a chance if you’re a fan of high-stakes romance, dismantling totalitarian governments, and complex family dynamics. (Legend is the first book of the Legend trilogy.)
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
This middle-grade book is almost 600 pages long; it follows three different timelines; and there’s magical realism involved. Younger me might have struggled to get into this admittedly intense novel if not for Pam Muñoz Ryan’s atmospheric writing and the historical settings that immediately captured my interest. It’s a beautiful book that any fan of historical fiction will enjoy.
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
One of my all-time favorite contemporaries, The Sun Is Also a Star is the story of the romance between Natasha, an illegal immigrant from Jamaica about to be deported, and Daniel, a Korean-American teen who secretly wishes to become a poet. Over the course of one very eventful day, Natasha and Daniel debate the existence of fate, argue over the ages-old question of science vs. art, and possibly fall in love along the way.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
The Voting Booth is one of my more recent reads. This is the story of two Black teens on their first Election Day, both eager to get their vote in for completely different reasons: Marva, who’s been waiting for this day her entire life, and Duke, reeling in the wake of the death of his activist brother. Although I did have trouble connecting to the narrators, this book is definitely worth your time and will inspire future activists for social justice.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
This West-African inspired fantasy completely captured my heart. The author manages to achieve something almost unheard of in her genre: she maintains the perfect balance between plot and characters, and throws in some beautiful writing while she’s at it. It’s a lovely book that you won’t regret reading. (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is the start of a new duology.)
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Nic Stone packs quite the punch into this small book. It’s painful reading the prejudice and racism Justyce faces, but the message at the end of it all is so worth it. His letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are so full of emotion and it’s just heartbreaking when Justyce begins to question whether fighting is worth the struggle. Dear Martin is a must read, right alongside All American Boys and The Hate U Give. (Dear Martin has a companion book releasing in September 2020.)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Speaking of which…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, there’s no way you haven’t heard of Angie Thomas’s debut. The Hate U Give is incredibly heart-rending, as the reader follows Starr’s emotional journey in the aftermath of her best friend Khalil’s death by a white police officer. It’s just — just read it. (A prequel to The Hate U Give is releasing in January 2021.)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Set in a brutal world inspired by the Roman Empire, An Ember in the Ashes tells the story of Laia, an enslaved young woman spying for the Resistance, and Elias, one of the Empire’s finest soldiers who secretly longs for freedom. The characters and world-building are phenomenal in this series, and it just keeps getting better by the book. (An Ember in the Ashes is the first in a quartet, the last of which is releasing in December 2020.)
Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon
Of Curses and Kisses was my first contemporary from Sandhya Menon, and it did not disappoint. Angst, drama, sweetness, curses, kisses, and romance abound. Grey and Jaya make up one of my favorite OTPs in a YA contemporary 😍 I’m really looking forward to reading the other upcoming books in this series (St. Rosetta’s Academy).
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club is a modern classic. It follows four Chinese women as they navigate American customs, tricky relationships with their husbands, their pasts in China, and most of all, their bond with their daughters that seems to be ever weakening. An ode to motherly love and all the women that came before you, there’s a reason this book has been deemed required reading.
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Woven in Moonlight was a totally unanticipated 5-star read for me from a few months ago. It’s beautifully written, inspired by Bolivian culture and politics, features lovable characters, and has a fantastic magic system. I’m anxiously looking forward to the companion book Written in Starlight coming out in January 2021.
Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
I read Alex & Eliza when I was in my full-on Hamilton phase, and I fell head-over-heels in love. It was amazingly romantic and perfectly angsty. The chemistry between Alexander and Eliza is palpable — their will-they-won’t-they had me at the edge of my seat! Although the historical accuracy decreases considerably with each book in the trilogy, I still enjoyed this series overall. It’s perfect for any Hamilfan aching for “Helpless” played out in novel form.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Who hasn’t heard of this one? Between the tremendous popularity of the Netflix film and the aching sweetness of the original trilogy itself, To All the Boys is a must-read for any contemporary lover. I’m not the most ardent shipper of Peter and Lara Jean (*hides*), but that doesn’t lessen the amounts of cuteness in this first book and the next two books in the series.
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
This book’s currently on my loans shelf on Libby, and I’m really excited to read this. I don’t think I’ve read an adult romance in, like, ever. It sounds so romantic. I mean, a private secretary and an American tourist having a holiday flirtation? I’m practically in love already. (This book is the fourth in the Wedding Date series, a series of standalone romance novels by the same author.)
Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi
This one’s been on my TBR forever, and I’m really hoping to pick this up before the year is over. I’ve seen reviews that range from negative to mixed to raving, but I’m willing to give it a chance. First of all, #OwnVoices Korean-American representation!! I’m a second-generation Korean-American myself, and Korean rep in a main character that’s accurate and inoffensive (*cough cough* Eleanor & Park can go away *cough*) is seriously few and far between in YA. Second, that cover is adorable. Third, I’m in love with that blurb.
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
I’m appalled and ashamed about the lack of books by Indigenous authors on my bookshelf, virtual and physical. I feel like this book would be a good starting place, since I’ve heard wonderful things about Louise Erdrich’s books.
Please, please share any recommendations by Indigenous authors in the comments below, as I am in desperate need of them.
Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
One of my most anticipated 2020 releases! It sounds like the most adorable thing I will ever read. To be honest, the fake-dating trope is cute, but it never really captured my heart the way it seems to have captured the hearts of the majority of the community. But I’m willing to bet that this book will make me fall for the trope once and for all. So. Excited.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
This is another book I currently have on my loans shelf. I finally gave into the hype, especially after the publicity the second book received when it released earlier this year. It sounds positively magical. Dresses made from the laughter of the sun? The tears of the moon? The blood of the stars? I’m already hooked.
The Silence of Bones by June Hur
This book has been on my radar ever since it released earlier this year. This is one of the few — if not the first — novels I’ve seen set in historical Korea. And that is a sacrilege. Korean history spans thousands of years, and there are just so many opportunities there for historical fiction writers. It certainly gives European history a run for its money. It’s just unbelievable how underrated the area is in HF. But anyway, for that reason alone, I’m planning to pick this one up soon.
That’s it for today! How about you? What are your favorite books by female BIPOC authors? Have you read any of the books on my list? And please feel free to drop any recommendations in the comments below!
Thanks for reading, everyone!