Only Reading White Authors? Here are 20 Books by Authors of Color to Read!!

[whispers] The whites are at it again.

There were some Things going on other other certain online book platforms, so my response was to say nothing about it and instead write a post here, recommending books by authors of color that you should read, especially if you’re only reading from white authors!

These are by no means all the books I love that are by authors of color! Most of these are YA, with 2 Adult and 2 Middle Grade, and there are tons of more amazing books by AOC. So I’m going to link to Fadwa @ Word Wonders and Shri @ Sun and Chai, who both have wonderful initiatives that help boost authors of color, so you can follow them and get more recs!

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if you like morally grey characters…

THE POPPY WAR (RF KUANG) OR

THE YOUNG ELITES (MARIE LU)

The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)Don’t even act surprised to see The Poppy War listed first in this recommendations list. We all know how I feel about Fang Runin (and if you don’t, it’s the phrase “please step on me”).

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) by Marie LuBoth of these are fantasies by Asian authors and have delightfully morally grey characters as protagonists! I unfortunately don’t remember much about The Young Elites (I want to reread it soon!!), but I know I would let both of the main characters kill me if they wanted, and they could do so quite easily. The Poppy War is a literary masterpiece, and Marie Lu is a legendary author (ha… get it… because she has a book called Legend…), so please read these both for the culture!!!

Major CWs for TPW!! War, genocide, graphic rape and murder, and human experimentation are the most extreme imo.

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if you like to read gorgeous writing…

ANY ANNA-MCLEMORE BOOK OR

THE STARS AND THE BLACKNESS BETWEEN THEM (JUNAUDA PETRUS)

The Stars and the Blackness Between ThemWhen the Moon Was OursAnna-Marie’s prose is probably some of the most beautiful in YA right now, and I feel like they would find a way to make a grocery list gorgeously written. I love all their books, but my favorites are When the Moon Was Ours and Blanca y Roja!

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is also a VERY gorgeous book—all of the writing is so pretty, but there are also particular poems that made me swoon. Please read it because not enough people have been exposed to the beauty that is this book!!

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if you like characters exploring their identity…

PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT
(
KELLY LOY GILBERT) OR

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH
(ELIZABETH ACEVEDO)

With the Fire on HighPicture Us in the LightI will always recommend Picture Us in the Light until more people finally!! read it!!! It’s about a gay Chinese boy who’s figuring out who he is and what he wants in life and also learning more about his family, and special is the only way I can describe this book.

With the Fire on High also explores identity, because Emoni is grappling with dealing with high school and her child and romance. It’s all about her learning about what she wants and needs, and I also give it 1000 bonus points for all the food mentions. (MANGOES ON THE COVER!!)

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if you like to cry…

DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY
(ADIB KHORRAM
) OR

ANGER IS A GIFT (MARK OSHIRO)

Darius the Great Is Not Okay (Darius The Great, #1)Anger Is a GiftOh, it’s another episode of me recommending the same books until more people read them!!! These books are both so amazing, they made me cry, and they also have important messages (Darius about depression and cultural identity, Anger is a Gift about racism and police brutality).

I also met both of these authors and they were both super sweet, and they did NOT seem upset to hear that they made me cry over their books… absolutely heartbreaking.

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END
(ADAM SILVERA
) OR

SUMMER BIRD BLUE
(AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN
)

They Both Die at the EndSummer Bird BlueYes, I have two more for this category, because I love pain and I love inflicting it on others! (I promise it’s worth it because all of these books are amazing.)

These are both books that, from the start, you know will be sad: One literally says that they both die at the end, and the other is hugely focused on grief. But they’re also just really, really beautifully written. I’ve also read other books from Adam Silvera and Akemi Dawn Bowman, and they’re just SUCH good writers. So be sure to check out More Happy Than Not and Starfish too!

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if you like fantasy that keeps you on your toes…

JADE CITY (FONDA LEE) OR

THE GILDED WOLVES (ROSHANI CHOKSHI)

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)(First of all, please appreciate the green color coordination.)

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani ChokshiThese books aren’t really that alike (Jade City’s an adult fantasy featuring rival gangs and The Gilded Wolves is a YA heist fantasy set in the past). But my reading experiences with them were both similar: it took a bit to get engaged with both of them, but once I was into it, I had to know what was going to happen next!!

Also! Both of these books feature twists that are just like ???? I think everyone who’s read Jade City didn’t believe that the Thing that happened actually happened, and my GR review for The Gilded Wolves is literally “hey uh, Mrs. Chokshi?? what the AHDSKFHSHGJDKF was that ending”.

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if you like slow-burn (f/f!) romance…

FINAL DRAFT (RILEY REDGATE) OR

THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS (K ANCRUM)

The Weight of the StarsFinal DraftBoth of these books are contemporaries, and both of them feature the best, beautiful slowburn romances. Final Draft’s romance is between two best friends, while TWOTS’ romance is a hate to friends to love romance, and I loved them so! much!

These books are also both really gorgeously real, and the way they’re written just make you feel some type of way. They both explore character relationships in such a raw way, and I just think they’re super well-written books!!!

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if you like contemporaries with mystery…

THE BEST LIES (SARAH LYU) OR

SLAY (BRITTNEY MORRIS)

The Best LiesI read The Best Lies just last month, and it was so gripping and interesting. The mystery was super well-written (it was written in dual timeline) and the characters and their toxic relationship was so intriguing to read about!

SlaySLAY is less mystery-based, so I wouldn’t say it’s as gripping as The Best Lies. But there’s  the mysterious identity of a hateful troll, and the twist/reveal genuinely shocked me! Also, I think the way that Black identity was written about was really beautiful, so read it for that too.

(These books are also lesser-known so… read them!!)

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if you like sapphics and social issues…

GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE
(
NATASHA NGAN) OR

THE GRIEF KEEPER
(ALEXANDRA VILLASANTE)

The Grief KeeperGirls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire, #1)These books aren’t really similar—GOPAF being a fantasy and The Grief Keeper being set in this world—but they both feature really beautiful f/f romances alongside significant issues such as rape, immigration, trauma, and discrimination.

The books tackle these issues in a poignant and impactful way, and both are also heartwrenching and make you question the standards placed upon people by society. At times they can be hard to read, especially GOPAF, but they’re so important.

(And of course, they have the prettiest covers.)

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if you like middle grade…

DRAGON PEARL (YOON HA LEE) OR

A WISH IN THE DARK
(
CHRISTINA SOONTORNVAT)

Dragon PearlA Wish in the DarkI love Middle Grade because it’s always so fun and enjoyable, and I especially commend their authors for being able to write something that’ll keep the attention of like a 10 year old (and also, let’s be honest, myself).

Both of these books are thoroughly entertaining to read, and the main characters go on wild adventures. I also think the way the cultures of these authors (Korean and Thai, respectively) were incorporated in these books were super well-done and added so much more to the story!


shall we chat

what are your favorite books by authors of color? have you read any of these? do you like this format of book recs (“if you like…”) because i do! and what books by aoc would you recommend??

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88 thoughts on “Only Reading White Authors? Here are 20 Books by Authors of Color to Read!!

  1. Thank you so much for this list, I’ve read a number of these and most of the others are all on my TBR! I have been avoiding Twitter for the most part over the last 2 weeks, so I keep missing the actual shitshows and just seeing the aftermath. I appreciate you contributing something positive for the bookish community so much xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. of course, kal!! and honestly it’s a great to stay off twitter lately, i think everyone staying home leads them to do ridiculous things… but yes, i’m trying not to engage with those kinds of things anymore and instead try to make something supportive out of it 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Girls of Paper of Fire has MY HEART! I absolutely loved it, and I definitely need to reread it before going on to book 2. Marie Lu is one of my favorite authors! I’ve read all of her books except Kingdom of Back, which is very high on my TBR! Thank you for this list, I am definitely going to read books from more of these authors!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. i loved gopaf!! unfortunately i can’t say the same for the sequel, but i hope you love gosas more than i did <33 and yes, i love marie lu SO much!! i haven't read wildcard or kingdom of back yet, but her legend series has my whole heart. so happy to hear you'll be checking some of these books out!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So many books on this list that I either loved or REALLY want to read! Also, what does it say about me that the category here that I’ve read the most from is “if you like to cry”? 🤔 I just read The Weight of the Stars recently and it blew me away, so that makes me even more excited to pick up Final Draft 😀 Thanks for this amazing list – I’m going to be bumping some of these up my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yay, i’m so happy to hear that! and omg me too… what does it say about me that that category was the one i had the most recs for 😭😭 YES, i’m so glad that you read and loved the weight of the stars — it’s a masterpiece!!

      Like

  4. Wait, what happened on twitter? I’m so clocked out, lol.

    Anyway, I love your book rec posts! I haven’t read The Gilded Wolves, but I’ve read another book by Roshani Chokshi and it was AMAZING. I want to read Slay, I just need to see if I can find it at a library after everything goes back to normal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha, there were just some things said about people not hyping up books by aoc when there are a ton of people who are :// it’s honestly great that you didn’t know though, i wish i was the same!

      i’m glad to hear you loved another of roshani’s books! tgw was the only one i’ve read, but i’ll have to check out her other books. and i hope you can get a copy of slay asap!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a wonderful post, and as usual I’m ignorant to Twitter but in my experience it’s always ridiculous so go you for writing a post instead ❤ I've only read The Young Elites and GoPaF from these unfortunately but I really should read more of these! Hmm I also love the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake and all of Julie Kagawa's books.

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  6. i love this format!!! it’s so cool cause it really gives you a sense of what you’re getting into 😎 i would say darius for sure (which i actually just got my friend to read!!), final draft, and anything by marie lu are my faves out of this list, and i really want to find a copy of blanca y roja, the weight of our sky, and the stars and the blackness between them! hope you’re doing well may x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Picture Us in the Light was hands down, my favorite book last year 😭❤️! (it hit too close too home 🥺.) More people really need to read it, but I also feel very protective over the story and don’t want to hear any criticism about it ever 😅. I love this post so much, May! And the format was really helpful 🙂!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. love this post, May!! thank you sm for sharing your recs by authors of color ☺️ i recently reread The Young Elites and also read the Legend series for the first time too! Marie Lu is such a great author 🙂 & so many of these books are on my TBR, i’m so excited to get around to reading them. Summer Bird Blue has been on my physical TBR since *forever* now lol and i’m gonna use this post as motivation to FINALLY read it soon, so thank you hehe 💕 i hope you’ve been doing well!! love reading your posts as always 💓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aahh thank you so much!! i’m glad you liked it ❤ and i need to reread tye asap — i love marie lu so much 😭 and YES!! very happy to hear you're going to pick SBB up soon, though be ready to cry… i hope you've been doing okay too, and thank you so much 🥺💞

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh wow the fact that I’ve only read four of these is just SAD. Although I will say almost all of them were already on my TBR (and I added the Best Lies, it sounds sooooo interesting!!) and I just suck at reading my TBR in general but uhhhh…….. still majorly need to read more of these (and other books by POC) asap

    (also yessssss the format is great!! I love it!)(also the title of this post is sorta iconic, just saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I adore this post!!! The whites were really at it again, and I love that instead of saying something on that other bookish platform, you wrote this amazing blog post instead. we love to see it 😍 I hope that you continue using the “if you like…” format in your future recommendation posts too. they make it so much easier to find the books that appeal to me/i’m looking for. and i’m happy to report that i’ve already read and enjoyed about half of these books ❤ ❤ But I'm dying to read The Best Lies and With the Fire On High 🥺 Middle grade isn't something I usually pick up, but I've been hearing so many good things about A Wish in the Dark (especially from you!)—I definitely have to read it now!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. aahh thank you caitlin!! and yep… that was what i was going with. less negative engagement on That Platform and more positive responses here 🥰🥰 and yay i’m so glad to hear that you like the format! i’ll definitely keep doing it, since it’s also fun/helpful for me too. YES for reading and loving half of these!! and omg i can’t wait to see what you’ll think of the best lies 🥺💗 i am a hype machine for a wish in the dark and a wish in the dark only, and i hope you LOVE IT!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, I don’t think to have The Best Lies on my to- read list, but I’ll check again because it’s definitely something I would like to read. And I’m just going to start With the Fire on High pretty soon! I’m so excited. It was amazing to see a recipe just on the opening page

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  12. this is such an awesome list! I’ve read literally none of these but it’s a great reminder to read more diversely! I’m reading the shadow of the fox series at the moment and I’m loving it! I really liked the ‘if you like morally grey characters’ sort of thing you did rather than a ‘if you like this book, read this’ because so many of these categories matched with the types of books i loved! amazing post!! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  13. the way i guessed the poppy war would be here, and as the first book listed. hell yeah 😎 can YOU BULLY ME TO READ ANGER IS A GIFT PLEASE and i cant believe you met the authors for it and darius the great, gasp you’re famous by association

    me closing my eyes as i pass by ‘jade city’ bc i am being a shameful disgrace by not picking it up (but im scarreeddd) 🙈🙈🙈🙈🙈 i desperately need to read ‘best lies’ and ‘girls of paper and fire’ bc im failing on my yarc reads too (time to put on my clown nose) so thanks for reminding me rat

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SHUT UP i know i’m predictable :(( yes when you are done reading your big pile of books, i shall bully you into reading anger is a gift!! i want you to sob like i did >:)

      OKAY WELL i saw that jade city was in ur bio for cr so….. I BELIEVE IN U and omg i still can’t believe you haven’t read gopaf aahh. BUT i feel like of the two u named, you might enjoy the best lies more :))

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  14. Thank you so much for this list, may!! I’ve read Girls of Paper and Fire (mostly because of you) and I’m really excited to check out its sequel soon, and I’ve also read The Poppy War recently, though not on the best format. I listened to its audiobook and I should have known better, because there was so much I let escape. Now I don’t know if I should re-read it and then read the sequel, or if it’s fine to go straight to the sequel if I just get a quick recap of the first book. :/ I’ll also have to check out so many books from here! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. okay first of all: “(mostly because of you)”… MY HEART!! and ah i hope you enjoy GOSAS more than i did lmao 😭 and hmm if i’m being honest, i think a simple recap of the poppy war might be okay? i just feel like the sequel thrusts rin into a whole different situation, and the only big thing that stays with her is the certain ~big event~ that happened at the end? but also don’t trust me since i have terrible memory anyways :o)

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  15. AH I LOVE this recommendation post so, so very much! I really can’t wait to read Picture Us In The Light, it sounds like such a wonderful contemporary and your praise makes me so, so very excited to read it. ❤ I also NEED to get to McLemore's books, I'm so curious about their writing and stories. And ahh The Young Elites. This series has been on my TBR for a little while now, I'm hoping to continue reading it soon, I only read the first book, but I really liked it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i love YOU so so very much!! and i’m very excited to see what you think of PUITL whenever you get the chance to read it — i have a feeling you’ll love it. and oh yes, i remember when you read the young elites a while back, and i felt proud of you lmao!! i hope you get to the read the rest of the series soon 💓

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Oooh I just started The Best Lies yesterday and I’m really enjoying it so far!! VERY intriguing, although I’m not sure if I like the flashbacks within the dual timelines as much – sometimes I find them a little bit confusing bc it’s like a flashback within a flashback, if that makes sense? 😅Excited to see where the story leads!

    💛 Ngoc

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I have only read a few on your list, but there are so many aoc books I love. The Candle & the Flame by Nafiza Azad; Descendant of the Crane by Joan He; A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna; The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee; The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi; and The Bone Witch trilogy by Rin Chupeco just to name a few.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh I loved reading this post, so many great recommendations! I loved With The Fire On High & Summer Bird Blue. The Best Lies, Final Draft & A Wish in the Dark sound amazing, hopefully I’ll read them soon.

    Like

  19. There are so many great recommendations here!! I also love the format of this post! Ugggh, every single time one of these things about people not being able to find books by AOC or f/f or any of that comes up on twitter it just gets me f r u s t r u r a t e d. Like there are so many amazing bloggers (like yourself) who are promoting all the AOC and diverse books, and if these people can’t “find” any of these books then they’re just not looking! Ok, rant over.

    I definitely need to read Anger is a Gift even though I know my heart will be crushed. And Final Draft and The Best Lies also sound so so good!! Thanks for all of the recommendations May!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much, chana!! and yeah it does suck to know that the work some bloggers are putting in aren’t being recognized, but i’m just glad i’ve grown enough to the point that instead of ranting on twt i just do something like this lmao!

      anger is a gift is AMAZING!! you’ll sob for an hour but it’s okay <33 and of course, i hope you enjoy!!

      Like

  20. I love this post! The Gilded Wolves was one of my favorites last year and I can’t wait for The Silvered Serpents! I also highly recommend The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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