Reading has long been an escape from the challenges of everyday life. While Bostonians stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s become more important than ever.
Bookstores and libraries are closed temporarily, but readers are encouraged to order online from local bookshops like Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury and More Than Words in the South End to sustain these community businesses. Print Ain’t Dead, a local pop-up bookstore geared toward people of color is also taking online orders and offering online poetry experiences via its Instagram account, @print.aint.dead.
These books by black authors could provide just the right amount of relief from the stresses of the unknown.
“The Black Book” assembles poems, essays, advertisements, sheet music, historical documents and many other elements in an exploration of African American life in the United States. Though edited by Roger Furman, Middleton A. Harris, Morris Levitt and Ernest Smith and featuring an introduction by Bill Cosby, Toni Morrison was the unsung champion and compiler of the book, published in 1974.
In “A Child’s Introduction to African American History: The Experiences, People, and Events That Shaped Our Country” author Jabari Asim fills in the gaping holes of school textbooks with vibrant stories from black history in the United States. Talented African Americans are highlighted in areas from politics to sports to entertainment.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ newest novel, “The Water Dancer,” follows a young enslaved man, Hiram Walker, who escapes bondage in Virginia and flees north. Once there, he becomes involved in the dangerous and fervent underground war against slavery, but he never forgets the family he left behind in Virginia.
“They all Fall Down” by Rachel Howzell Hall pays homage to Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” Miriam Macy sets off for a luxurious private island vacation with six other strangers. Upon arrival, the group realizes they’ve all been brought there under false – and malicious – pretenses.
In “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi, protagonist Zélie Adebola channels the West African Orïsha gods to fight back against a ruthless monarch, with the help of a few other outcasts along the way. As a bonus, the sequel to this novel was just released, making for double the reading.
Take it back to the classics with Octavia Butler’s best-selling novel, “Kindred.” The book follows a female African American writer who finds herself time-traveling between her Los Angeles home and a plantation in pre-Civil War Maryland, where she meets her ancestors. Written in 1979, “Kindred” has continued to be a classic in black American literature to this day.