Best Books to Give Black Readers This Holiday Season, 2022
The year has been long and frightful, but the books I’ve read have been delightful.
I was especially surprised to enjoy books that I didn’t review for this column but enjoyed on my own time. I also can’t ignore the enchanting books that I have reviewed or written about, because they made my sporadic posts this year. At the same time, there are also promising books that I haven’t read but still want to promote.
Without further delay, here are the books I recommend to give as gifts to yourself or to your loved ones this holiday season.
All Signs Point To Yes: A Love Story For Every Star Sign by Cam Montgomery, g. haron davis, and Adrianne White
Released during summer 2022, this is a multicultural YA anthology inspired by love and astrology. A haunted Aquarius finds love behind the veil. An ambitious Aries will do anything to stay in the spotlight. A foodie Taurus discovers the best eats in town (with a side of romance). A witchy Cancer stumbles into a curious meet-cute.
Whether it’s romantic, platonic, familial, or something else you can’t quite define, love is the thing that connects us. All Signs Point to Yes will take you on a journey from your own backyard to the world beyond the living as it settles us among the stars for thirteen stories of love and life. These stories will touch your heart, speak to your soul, and have you reaching for your horoscope forevermore.
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
Speaking of stars, this YA dystopian sci-fi book was one of my favorite reads this year. Two years after aliens known as the IIori invaded Earth and decimated a third of the population, a seventeen-year-old girl named Ellie Baker lives in an IIori-controlled center in New York City.
Although she is reduced to a state of surviving rather than living, she also quietly rebels against the IIori by hosting an illegal library of books. When her library is discovered by Morris, an IIori commander who loves banned pop music, the two gradually learn to trust each other and turn their mutual quiet rebellions into a louder one.
Star Lion: Thieves of Red Night by Leon Langford
When you combine anime-inspired artwork with superhero schools, you get this fun book. Ten years ago, several of these superheroes gave their lives to stop the disastrous events of the Green Night. In the aftermath, a new generation of heroes are trying to do their part to fill the space left behind. One of them is Jordan Harris, a young Black boy with the power to manipulate gravitons.
When he is arrested one night while doing vigilante work, he must go undercover at the superhero training academy Fort Olympus. While there, he discovers a world-threatening conspiracy that forces Jordan to work together in a team to save the day.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
This powerful memoir-manifesto chronicles the author’s Black gay coming-of-age from his childhood to his teen and college years. It is a book about not only identity, but also family and community. This book had an unexpected personal impact on me as a thirty-one-year-old Black non-binary queer person, but I definitely could’ve used this book when I was a teen.
Right Where I Left You by Julian Winters
This queer and geeky YA read replaced Winters’s previous book as one of my favorite comfort reads. In fact, I called this book “the perfect summer vacation” in my review. It tells the story of Isaac Martin, an Afro-Mexican gay comic book geek who has been looking forward to spending one last summer with his best friend, Diego Santoyo.
The two of them were supposed to be attending Legends Con, the biggest pop culture convention in Georgia. When Isaac misses his chance to buy passes, he ends up gradually getting closer to his crush, Davi, and getting to know Diego’s gamer friends instead. However, as the day of the biggest teen Pride event approaches, Isaac finds himself drifting farther apart from his best friend.
Me, Moth by Amber McBride
Full disclosure: I’m still in the middle of reading this book. However, I am enjoying it too much not to recommend it.
This is a 2021 novel-in-verse about a young hoodoo-practicing, dance-loving Black girl named Moth and a Navajo boy named Sani. It is so lyrical, gorgeous, emotional, and nothing like any novel-in-verse I’ve read before.
After losing her family in an accident, Moth goes to live with her aunt, but she still feels alone. Soon she meets Sani, a boy with depression who is trying to figure out where he comes from. Together, the two of them take a road trip in order to find themselves and understand how each of their families’ histories shapes who they are now.
The Afro YA promotes black young adult authors and YA books with black characters, especially those that influence Pennington, an aspiring YA author who believes that black YA readers need diverse books, creators, and stories so that they don’t have to search for their experiences like she did.
Latonya Pennington is a poet and freelance pop culture critic. Their freelance work can also be found at PRIDE, Wear Your Voice magazine, and Black Sci-fi. As a poet, they have been published in Fiyah Lit magazine, Scribes of Nyota, and Argot magazine among others.