Decolonise Your Bookshelf: A Reading List

Here, you will find an ever-growing reading list of literature written by authors, writers, and poets of colour. The list covers prose fiction, prose non-fiction (including critical and theoretical), and poetry. We will be updating this list all throughout the year.

Prose Fiction

Leila Aboulela:

  • The Kindness of Enemies
  • Minaret
  • Elsewhere, Home
  • Bird, Summons
  • The Translator
  • Coloured Lights
  • Lyrics Alley

Chinua Achebe:

  • Things Fall Apart
  • Arrow of God
  • No Longer at Ease
  • Anthills of the Savannah 
  • A Man of the People

Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie: 

  • Purple Hibiscus
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • The Thing Around Your Neck
  • Americanah

Radwa Ashour:

  • Warm Stone
  • Khadija and Sawsan
  • Granada
  • I Saw the Date Palms
  • Blue Lorries
  • Apparitions (also known as Specters)
  • Al-Tantouria 
  • Siraaj

James Baldwin:

  • Go Tell it On the Mountain
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Just Above My Head
  • Another Country 
  • Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone

Gwendolyn Brooks:

  • Maud Martha

Octavia E. Butler:

Patternist Series

  • Patternmaster
  • Mind of My Mind
  • Survivor
  • Wild Seed
  • Clay’s Ark
  • Seed to Harvest

Xenogenesis series

  • Dawn 
  • Adulthood Riles
  • Imago
  • Xenogenesis
  • Lilith’s Brood

Parable series

  • Parable of the Sower
  • Parable of the Talents

Kacen Callender:

  • This is Kind of an Epic Love Story
  • King and the Dragonflies 
  • Hurricane Child 
  • Felix Ever After 

Islands of Blood and Storm Series

  • Queen of the Conquered 
  • King of the Rising 

Dane Figueroa Edidi:

  • Yemaya’s Daughters

The Ghetto Goddess Series

  • Brew: A Novel
  • Keeper: A Novel

The C. Muhammad Series

  • Wither: A Novella
  • Bone: A Novella

Akwaeke Emezi:

  • Freshwater
  • Pet
  • The Death of Vivek Oji

Khaled Hosseini:

  • The Kite Runner
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns
  • And the Mountains Echoed
  • Sea Prayer

Langston Hughes:

  • Not Without Laughter
  • The Ways of White Folks
  • Tambourines to Glory
  • Laughing to Keep from Crying

Simple series

  • Simple Speaks His Mind
  • Simple Takes a Wife
  • Simple Stakes a Claim
  • Simple’s Uncle Sam

Ausma Zehanat Khan:

Khorasan Archives series

  • The Bloodprint
  • The Black Khan
  • The Blue Eye
  • The Bladebone

Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak series

  • The Unquiet Dead
  • The Language of Secrets
  • Among Ruins
  • A Death in Sarajevo
  • A Dangerous Crossing
  • A Deadly Divide

Laila Lalami:

  • The Moor’s Account
  • The Other Americans
  • Secret Son
  • Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Fatema Mernessi:

  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Moroccan Girlhood

Nadifa Mohamed:

  • Black Mamba Boy
  • The Orchard of Lost Souls

Toni Morrison:

  • Beloved
  • The Bluest Eye
  • A Mercy
  • Song of Solomon
  • Tar Baby
  • Home
  • Sula
  • Jazz
  • Paradise
  • Love
  • God Help the Child

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali:

  • An Unproductive Woman

Begum Rokeya:

  • Sultana’s Dream

Tayeb Salih:

  • Season of Migration to the North
  • The Wedding of Zein

Rivers Solomon:

  • Unkindness of Ghosts
  • The Deep

Leila Slimani:

  • Adele
  • Lullaby
  • Les payes des autres 

Alice Walker:

  • The Color Purple
  • The Third Life of Grange Copeland
  • Meridian
  • In Love and Trouble
  • You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories
  • Possessing the Secret of Joy
  • The Temple of My Familiar

Jacqueline Woodson:

  • Autobiography of a Family Photo
  • Another Brooklyn
  • Brown Girl Dreaming
  • Feather 
  • After Tupac and D Foster
  • The Dear One
  • From the Notebooks of the Melanin Sun
  • If you come Softly
  • I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This
  • Lena
  • The House You Pass on the Way

Prose Non-fiction, Critical, and Theoretical

Chinua Achebe:

  • Hopes and Impediments
  • Home and Exile
  • There Was A Country
  • The Education of a British-Protected Child

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

  • We Should All Be Feminists
  • Dear Ijaewele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Leila Ahmed:

  • A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America
  • Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate
  • Between Two Worlds: The Formation of a Turn-of-the-Century Egyptian Feminist
  • Arab Women: 1995
  • Feminism, Theory and Politics
  • A Border Passage: From Cairo to America

Kecia Ali:

  • Islam: The Key Concepts
  • The Lives of Muhammad
  • Imam Shafi’i: Scholar and Saint
  • Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence

Cameron Awkward-Rich:

  • ‘“She of the Pants and No Voice”: Jack Bee Garland’s Disability Drag’ in Transgender Studies Quarterly
  • ’Thinking Black [Trans] Gender’ in American Quarterly
  • ‘Trans, Feminism or Reading Like a Depressed Transsexual’ in Signs: Journal of Woman in Culture and Society 
  • ‘The Fiction of Ethnography in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland’ in Science Fiction Studies

James Baldwin:

  • Notes of a Native Son
  • Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son
  • The Fire Next Time
  • The Price of the Ticket
  • Jimmy’s Blues
  • The Evidence of Things Not Seen
  • No Name in the Street
  • Going to Meet the Man

Octavia E. Butler:

  • Birth of a Writer
  • Devil Girl from Mars: Why I Write Science Fiction
  • A World Without Racism
  • Brave New Worlds: A Few Rules for Predicting the Future

Aimé Césaire:

  • Discourse on Colonialism 

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

  • Between the World and Me

The Lady Chablis:

  • Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah

Angela Davis:

  • If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance
  • Women, Race and Class
  • Women, Culture & Politics
  • Are Prisons Obsolete?
  • The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues
  • Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma Rainey”, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday
  • Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire

Sylviane A. Diouf:

  • Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas
  • Slavery’s Exhiles: The Story of the American Maroons
  • Black Power 50 (Edited)
  • Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies (Edited)
  • In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience 
  • Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Last Slave Ship ‘Clotilda’ and the Story of the Last Africans Brough to America
  • Growing Up in Slavery

Frantz Fanon:

  • Black Skin, White Masks
  • The Wretched of the Earth
  • A Dying Colonialism 
  • Toward the African Revolution 

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali:

  • Kimiya-yi Sa’ādat (The Alchemy of Happiness)
  • al-munqidh min al-ḍalāl (Deliverance From Error)
  • Ihya’Ulum al-Din or Ihya’u Ulumiddin (The Revival of Religious Sciences)
  • Tahāfut al-Falāsifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers)
  • Faysal al-tafriqa bayna l-Islâm wa-l-zandaqa (The Decisive Criterion for Distinguishing Islam from Clandestine Unbelief)

Langston Hughes:

  • Fight For Freedom: The Story of the NAACP
  • I Wonder as I Wander
  • The Big Sea
  • Black Magic

bell hooks:

  • Ain’t I a Woman?: Black women and feminism
  • Feminist theory: From Margin to Center
  • Feminism Is For Everybody
  • Killing Rage: Ending Racism
  • The Will to Change
  • Teaching to Transgress
  • Talking Back: Thinking feminist, thinking Black
  • Salvation: Black people and love
  • Where We Stand: Class Matters

Julius Kaggwa:

  • From Juliet to Julius

Su’ad Abdul Khabeer:

  • Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States

Rashid Khalidi:

  • Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness
  • The Origins of Arab Nationalism
  • Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East
  • Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East
  • British Policy towards Syria and Palestine
  • Under Siege: PLO Decision-making during the 1982 War
  • The Hundred Years War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance
  • Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East
  • The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood\

Audre Lorde:

  • Sister Outsider
  • Uses of the Erotic: the erotic as power
  • The Cancer Journals

Amina Mama:

  • National Machinery for Women in Africa: Towards an analysis
  • The Hidden Struggle: Statutory and Voluntary Sector Responses to Violence Against Black Women in the Home
  • ‘Black Women and the Police: A Place Where the Law is Not Upheld’, in Inside Babylon
  • Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender, and Subjectivity
  • ‘Is It Ethical to Study Africa? Preliminary Thoughts on Scholarship and Freedom’ in African Studies Review

Saba Mahmood:

  • The Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject
  • Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech
  • Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report

Fatema Mernessi:

  • Scheherazade Goes West: Different Cultures, Different Harems
  • Beyond the Veil and Ethnocentrism
  • Women’s Rebellion & Islamic Memory and Gender Roles
  • The Forgotten Queens of Islam and Intersectionality
  • Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World
  • The Veil and the Male Elite: A feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam

Janet Mock:

  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
  • Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me 

Toni Morrison:

  • Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
  • The Origin of Others
  • The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, Meditations

Toni Newman:

  • Rise-The Transformation of Toni Newman

Huda Shaarawi:

  • Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist

Leila Slimani:

  • Sex and Lies

C. Riley Snorton:

  • Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity
  • ‘”A New Hope”: The Psychic Life of Passing’ in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 
  • ‘Gender Trouble on Triton’ in No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies
  • ‘Gender. Keywords’ in African American Studies
  • ‘Trapped in the Epistemological Closet: Black Sexuality and the ‘Ghettocentric Imagination’ in  Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society
  • ‘On the Question of “Who’s Out in Hip Hop”’ in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society 
  • ‘Trans Necropolitics: A Transnational Reflection on Violence, Death, and the Trans of Color Afterlife’ co-authored with Jin Haritaworn in Transgender Studies Reader
  • ‘An Ambiguous Heterotopia: On the Past of Black Studies’ Futures’ in The Black Scholar

Zeba Talkhani:

  • My Past is a Foreign Country

Alice Walker:

  • In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose
  • Warrior Marks
  • Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism
  • Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure
  • The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult

Tenika Watson:

  • My Life is No Accident

J Mase III:

  • And Then I Got Fired: One Transqueer’s Reflections on Grief, Unemployment & Inappropriate Jokes About Death

Poetry

Chinua Achebe:

  • Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems

Travis Alabanza:

  • Before I Step Outside [You Love Me]

Raymond Antrobus:

  • To Sweeten Bitter
  • The Perserverance

Maya Angelou:

  • And Still I Rise
  • I Shall Not Be Moved
  • A Brave and Startling Truth
  • Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me

Fatima Asghar:

  • If They Come For Us
  • After

Samiya Bashir:

  • Where the Apple Falls: Poems
  • Gospel: Poems
  • Field Theories

Jay Bernard:

  • Surge 
  • English Breakfast 
  • The Red and Yellow Nothing 
  • Other Ubiquities
  • Your Sign is Cuckoo, Girl 

Abū al-Ṭayyib Aḥmad ibn Al-Ḥusayn Al-Mutanabbī Al-Kindī (known as Al-Mutanabbi):

  • Poems of Al-Mutanabbī
  • The Diwan of Abu Tayyib Ahmad Ibn Al-Husayn Al-Mutanabbi (Arabic and English Edition)

Aimé Césaire:

  • Return to My Native Land
  • Cutthroat Sun
  • Lost Body

Gwendolyn Brooks:

  • In the Mecca: Poems
  • A Street in Bronzeville
  • Annie Allen
  • Riot
  • Beckonings
  • Aurora
  • Aloneness
  • Family Pictures

jay dodd:

  • The Black Condition ft. Narcissus

Safia Elhillo:

  • The January Children

Tarfia Faizullah:

  • Seam
  • Registers of Illuminated Villages

Langston Hughes:

  • The Weary Blues
  • Dear Lovely Death
  • Shakespeare in Harlem
  • Let America be America Again
  • Jim Crow’s Last Stand
  • Montage of a Dream Deferred
  • The Panther and the Lash
  • Freedom’s Plow

Andrea Jenkins:

  • tributaries: poems celebrating black history
  • Pieces of a Scream 
  • The T is Not Silent

Jackie Kay:

  • The Adoption Papers
  • Off Colour
  • Life Mask
  • Darling: New & Selected Poems

Rickey Laurentiis:

  • Boy with Thorn
  • Prime
  • Whipped

Audre Lorde:

  • the First Cities
  • The Black Unicorn
  • Our Dead Behind Us
  • The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde
  • Cables to Rage
  • From a Land Where Other People Live
  • New York Head Shop and Museum

Hamda bint Ziyād al-Muaddib (Disclaimer: Hamda bint Ziyād al-Muaddib’s poetry is ancient and only a few poems exist, especially in translated form. We have given both English and Arabic editions for those who can and wish to read the poetry in Arabic, which we highly recommend!):

  • ‘Tears reveal my secrets’ in Beyond Elegy: Classical Arabic Women’s Poetry in Context
  • ‘Beside a Stream’ in Moorish Poetry: A Translation of The Pennants, an Anthology compiled in 1243 by the Andalusian Ibn Sa’id

Abu Nuwas (Disclaimer: Abu Nuwas’ poetry is ancient and only a few collections of it exist across different languages. We have given both English and Arabic editions for those who can and wish to read the poetry in Arabic, which we highly recommend!):

  • Poems of Wine and Revelry: The Khamriyyat of Abu Nuwas
  • O Tribe That Loves Boys: The Poetry of Abu Nuwas
  • Dīwān Abū Nu’ās, khamriyyāt Abū Nu’ās 
  • The Khamriyyāt of Abū Nuwās

Ladan Osman:

  • The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony
  • Exiles of Eden

Poetic Pilgrimage: 

Poetic Pilgrimage is a hip-hop, reggae, and spoken-word duo founded by Muneera Rashida and Sukina Abdul Noorin. There discography includes:

  • Freedom Times
  • Starwomen Mixtape
  • Silence is Consent

Nazhūn bint al-Qilā’ī (Disclaimer: Nazhūn bint al-Qilā’ī’s poetry is ancient and only a few poems exist, especially in translated form. We have given both English and Arabic editions for those who can and wish to read the poetry in Arabic, which we highly recommend!):

  • ‘Tell the vile one word’ in Beyond Elegy: Classical Arabic Women’s Poetry in Context
  • ‘As cherished as my father’ in Beyond Elegy: Classical Arabic Women’s Poetry in Context
  • ’The Blind Man’ in Moorish Poetry: A Translation of The Pennants, an Anthology compiled in 1243 by the Andalusian Ibn Sa’id
  • Riposte’ in Moorish Poetry: A Translation of The Pennants, an Anthology compiled in 1243 by the Andalusian Ibn Sa’id

Claudia Rankine:

  • Citizen: An American Lyric
  • Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric
  • Nothing in Nature is Private

Cameron Awkward-Rich:

  • Dispatch
  • Sympathetic Little Monsters
  • Transit 

Jalal al-Din Rumi:

  • The Essential Rumi

Warsan Shire:

  • Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth
  • Lemonade: A Visual Album by Beyoncé
  • Her Blue Body

Danez Smith:

  • Don’t Call Us Dead
  • [insert] Boy 
  • Homie
  • hands on your knees
  • Black movie

Alice Walker:

  • In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose
  • Warrior Marks
  • Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism
  • Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure
  • The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult

J Mase III:

  • White Folks Be Trippin’
  • The Black Trans Prayer Book

Comics/Graphic Novels

Vita Ayala:

  • The Wilds
  • Morbius
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Road Warrior
  • Submerged Vol. 1
  • Dead Beats
  • Bitch Planet

Livewire Series

  • Livewire
  • Livewire Volume 1: Fugitive
  • Livewire Volume 2: Guardian
  • Livewire Volume 3: Champion

(Ayala’s bibliography is so incredibly vast. We recommend you check out all of their work (including that with DC and Marvel here: 

https://www.comixology.com/Vita-Ayala/comics-creator/103563?creatorList_pg=1&cu=0

https://www.marvel.com/comics/creators/13590/vita_ayala

https://www.dccomics.com/talent/vita-ayala )