The #OwnVoices movement has challenged the publishing industry to increase the number of books written about and by authors from underrepresented populations. With that in mind, I’ve compiled this list of audiobooks read by Black authors. After all, how much more #OwnVoices can you get than listening to audiobooks written and read by Black authors?
It seems pretty logical that books about certain groups would be more authentic if they were written by people from those groups. Unfortunately, publishing has long followed white supremacist, heteronormative, ableist, patriarchal trends. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison compiles data on books by and about people of color and from First/Native Nations published for children and teens.
As the chart above shows, in 2018 only 49% of books about Black people were actually written by Black people. Nevertheless, the numbers are slowly improving. Authors and readers are holding publishers accountable and elevating diverse voices.
What can you do, as a reader? Read more books by diverse authors! You can start with these audiobooks read by Black authors.
15 Popular Books Written and Read By Black Authors
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This award-winning YA novel follows 15-year-old Dominican American high school sophomore Xiomara Batista. This fierce and fiery feminist isn’t afraid to fight for herself and her family, but what happens when she finally shares the private part of herself with the world through her poetry?
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The incomparable Maya Angelou shares her own story in this autobiography. It is honest, heartbreaking, and inspiring—a classic.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This book is so critically acclaimed that I don’t even know how to do it justice in a short summary. Coates writes to his son about his own experiences and what race means in America.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Gay’s memoir takes an honest and vulnerable look at body image, hunger, and self-image. She inspires us to grow in a world that wants to keep us small.
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
Many audiobooks written and read by Black authors come from celebrities. Undoubtedly, standup comedian Tiffany Haddish is a gem amongst the celebrity readers. Her collection of autobiographical essays is touching, while her performance is hilarious.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
In this collection of essays, Kendall challenges the modern feminist movement through thoughtful critique. Importantly, Kendall pushes for an intersectional approach that moves beyond white middle class ideals.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
This haunting classic from Toni Morrison follows Sethe, a former slave who carries the ghost of her dead baby. Although she escaped bondage, she isn’t truly free.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Noah’s charisma is showcased in his performance of this engaging tale of his childhood. Through his award-winning narration, he embodies the characters who shaped his young life.
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
The young Senator Obama paints a vision of political change. This audiobook will transport readers to a more hopeful time.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
This memoir of loss and learning follows the story of the two people who created our 44th president. This touching story of the complexities of American identity will resonate with many readers.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Yes, three of the audiobooks written and read by Black authors on this list come from the Obamas. This memoir follows the former first lady from childhood through her time in the White House.
Creative Quest by Questlove
Musical genius Questlove presents a collection of stories, music, philosophy, and more. You’ll be inspired by this rich conversation on creativity.
Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes
Rimes shares her successful experiment—one year of saying yes to unexpected invitations. As a result, she contends that the word yes can change our lives.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
I read this on an airplane a few years ago and sobbed next to a stranger on an airplane. Now a movie starring Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy is a true story about America’s flawed and racist justice system.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This book in verse tells the story of Woodson’s childhood in South Carolina and New York. It provides a powerful glimpse into the experiences that shaped one of today’s most prolific writers.
15 Less Familiar Books Written and Read By Black Authors
My Song by Harry Belafonte and Michael Shnayerson
In this memoir, music legend Harry Belafonte opens up about his childhood in Jamaica and Haiti. Readers get to follow this musical icon from poverty to commercial success. However, this story is far more than the story of one man. With Belafonte’s long history as an activist, his story is the story of a movement.
Black is the Body by Emily Bernard
In this collection of autobiographical essays, Bernard shares her unique experience of embodying Blackness. Including surviving a stabbing, marrying a white man, and adopting Ethiopian children, these essays illustrate the complexities of what it means to be Black.
God-Level Knowledge Darts by Desus & Mero
In this upcoming release, late night television hosts Desus & Mero talk about how they turned their friendship into an empire. In their hilarious style, they share life lessons they learned growing up in the Bronx.
Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins
In this aptly titled autobiography, Goggins shares how he went from overweight, abused, and poor to being an elite athlete and military icon. Furthermore, he shares a path to success that he contends anyone else can follow.
I Got This by Jennifer Hudson
Superstar Jennifer Hudson shares her story, including how she lost 80 pounds by changing her lifestyle. Fans will enjoy tales from her time on American Idol and her starring role in Dreamgirls.
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
Acclaimed poet Saeed Jones brings his unique voice to this memoir. In this case, he uses lyrical vignettes to detail his coming of age as a gay Black man living in the south.
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
While most of the books on this list are autobiographical, McMillan provides us another of her excellent novels. Similarly to her bestsellers Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, this book follows a woman taking a chance and starting a new chapter of her life.
I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan
From the projects of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn to Saturday Night Live, Morgan gives us a glimpse into his life in this poignant and funny memoir.
Handbook for an Unpredictable Life by Rosie Perez
Groundbreaking Afro-Latina actor Rosie Perez has lived a harrowing life. This memoir is the story of how she survived a transient childhood between relatives and a Catholic children’s home run by abusive nuns.
Retta leads us through this hilarious collection of essays about her rise to stardom. The Parks & Recreation star will leave you eager to see what she’ll do next.
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
In this debut, Shire presents a provocative and entertaining collection of her poetry. Fans of Beyonce’s Lemonade will enjoy this passionate feminine compilation.
The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
Taylor’s book is a manifesto of radical self-love. She guides us in rethinking the shame that society has ingrained in us. Ultimately, Taylor pushes us to love ourselves as a step toward creating a more compassionate world.
Here for It by R. Eric Thomas
Thomas’s collection of essays has been praised by the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and rightly so. Thomas captures with hilarious poignancy what it’s like to feel like an outsider.
We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
Union has been a vocal advocate for Black women, for victims of sexual assault, and for trans rights. Thus, she uses this collection of essays to discuss race, beauty, gender, Hollywood and more.
You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams
This touching joint memoir is the story of a strong mother and famous daughter. The story of Vanessa Williams’s childhood and 30-year career is remarkable, but the mother-daughter relationship is familiar.