Self-Care Books for African-Americans in the Wake of Recent Tragedies

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Christina Vortia

Staff Writer

Christina is an avid reader, enthusiastic foodie, unabashed ratchet intellectual, and snarky librarian. You can follow her blog, Follow her on Twitter @MissFabularian.

The list is growing longer.

I haven’t watched the live-stream murder of Philando Castile’s girlfriend. I haven’t watched the brutal murder of Alston Sterling. I have read the outpouring of grief from around the world, as we add the names of these two men to the 136 black men already killed by police officers in 2016. It is only July.

I have donated, posted, tweeted, and re-tweeted. Many of you have protested, comforted family members of the victims, and many more of you are just at a loss.


In times like this, in addition to speaking out, standing up, and caring for others, you must remember to practice self-care. I don’t know about you, but for me practicing self-care includes reading. Reading is a way to inform. Reading is a way to escape. Reading is a way to understand and a way to question. Here is a list of books to add to your self-care list. It is a dangerous world out there, make every effort you can to be safe. Stay radiant. Be defiantly courageous, beautiful, and spread light.

Between the World and MeBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – When Toni Morrison declares a book required reading, you need to stop what you’re doing and read it! This book is thought-provoking, introspective, and will help you navigate this unsettling climate.



Kinky GazpachoKinky Gazpacho: Life, Love, & Spain by Lori Tharps – Feel like you just want to get away? You don’t need a passport or a lot of funds to read this lighthearted tale of one woman finding love abroad in Spain.




The Fire Next TimeThe Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – Sometimes to understand the present, we have to confront the past, and how better to re-examine the harsh realities of race in America with than to read the beautiful prose of James Baldwin. Baldwin’s work not only engages the mind but unveils racial irony with intensity and candor.



All American BoysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – This heartfelt book written in alternating voice tells the story of two boys; one black, one white. The lives of these two boys intersect when one captures gun violence at the hand of the police on his cell phone. This book is the 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book and recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.


Year of YesYear of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – Say yes to yourself! Say yes to opportunities that may come in your life. Year of Yes is positive, empowering, and a definite must read. The headlines these days could give, even the best of us, anxiety. Even in the face of it, we must continue to love ourselves live our best lives.



51guQ6ZjYOL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey – When Mother Oprah starts dropping jewels about how to tap into your power, find things to appreciate, and keep striving through adversity: listen. I was really touched by this book. It’s a great book to uplift, encourage, and refuel.




Hold Fast to DreamsHolding Fast to Dreams: From the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement by Freeman A. Hrabowski – Sometimes giving  back — particularly to our youth — can be incredibly rewarding, healing, and purposeful. Freeman Hrabowski is a well regarded leader on educating African American youth. Read this book for ideas on practical ways to empower and educate youth.


The Misadventures of Awkward Black GirlThe Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae – Read this book and laugh! Read this book and connect with the diversity and intersectionality of the black experience. We are a beautiful people with more than one way of being, seeing the world, and relating. In times of unflinching brutality, put into yourself words and images that encourage the fun side of your humanity.


I Am Sick of this S**tI Am Sick of This S**t  – Word!!!!! Does this explain how you feel right now!!! I’ll bet you haven’t colored since you were a kid. It was relaxing wasn’t it!? It is a great tension reliever to just sit down, relax, and color some s**t. Try it, and see if you feel even a little bit calmer.



How to Be BlackHow to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston – Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. In this satirical and playful memoir, Thurston tackles the issues of race in ways Black Twitter and clapbacktivists can truly appreciate.




The People Could FlyThe People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton  (Author), Leo Dillon (Illustrator), Diane Dillon (Illustrator) – “Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we aren’t real…” Ever wished you could just fly away. Revisit these epic stories of childhood filled with legend and awe by masterful storyteller, Virginia Hamilton.