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Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves

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An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't co An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, "well-read black girl" Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone--no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities--can find themselves there. Whether it's learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women's writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves. Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.


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An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't co An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, "well-read black girl" Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone--no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities--can find themselves there. Whether it's learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women's writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves. Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.

30 review for Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    "Myths tell us what those like us have done, can do, should do. Without myths to lead the way, we hesitate to leap forward." ~N.K. Jemisen, Dreaming Awake We read for many reasons. We read to find adventure. We read to escape our problems. We read to learn about others. We read to learn new things. We read to be entertained. Perhaps most of all, we read to know we are not alone. A well-written book can show us who we are and can make us feel we belong. It was a joy to read Well-Read Black Girl: F "Myths tell us what those like us have done, can do, should do. Without myths to lead the way, we hesitate to leap forward." ~N.K. Jemisen, Dreaming Awake We read for many reasons. We read to find adventure. We read to escape our problems. We read to learn about others. We read to learn new things. We read to be entertained. Perhaps most of all, we read to know we are not alone. A well-written book can show us who we are and can make us feel we belong. It was a joy to read Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves. It is a collection of essays by African-American women detailing their own transformative experiences of finding themselves in a book. The feeling of belonging you get when you encounter someone just like you. The way it helps you understand your inner self more, and accept and love yourself for who you are. "White" culture is everywhere; "white" is often depicted as the norm, just as "straightness" is depicted as the norm. Minorities are often left feeling like they don't belong, like there is something inherently "wrong" with and about them. It is heartening that there are ever more books and movies and tv shows depicting minorities. Everyone needs to know they belong, needs to see themselves in both fiction and non-fiction. Needs to feel validated in who they are. I think for minorities in particular, it is empowering to find ourselves in books. I remember coming across a book with a lesbian character for the first time in my teens. I remember my sense of amazement, my feelings of connectedness, my appreciation that I was not alone​ --​ the sense of hope this engendered in me​!​ This was 20+ years ago and I had lived a very sheltered life. And of course, there weren't all that many books about LGBQT+ people back then. The book was The Color Purple and there was Celie, feeling about females the way I felt about them. There, staring back at me from the pages, was somebody like me -- a girl who liked other girls. The stories in Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves are beautiful, heartfelt, and touching. Some of them made me laugh, others made me cry. They all made me appreciate books even more. After every 3 chapters, Glory Edim provides lists of recommendations for various genres of books written by Black women. This was dangerous for my TBR list which is now quite a bit lengthier than it was before I read this! Well-Read Black Girl is a book most book-lovers will appreciate and identify with! “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read." ~James Baldwin

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I remember the time my teacher placed a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my hands. I identified strongly with young Maya. Through her walk a sense of power was infused in me. I felt that I could endure. Just the idea that a little brown girl's voice held that much power. I remember shortly after that Dr. Angelou came to visit my local library. She towered over the patrons yet she always managed to embrace everyone at their own level. Even at that young age I understood that I was in th I remember the time my teacher placed a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my hands. I identified strongly with young Maya. Through her walk a sense of power was infused in me. I felt that I could endure. Just the idea that a little brown girl's voice held that much power. I remember shortly after that Dr. Angelou came to visit my local library. She towered over the patrons yet she always managed to embrace everyone at their own level. Even at that young age I understood that I was in the company of greatness. Her regal stature, her warmth and her strength encouraged me. I became a lifelong fan and follower of her life. As I got older other women of the diaspora joined my literary canon: J. California Cooper, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Sapphire . . . They all came into my life when I need them the most. In Glory Edim's much anticipated anthology, Well Read Black Girl, 21 Black women writers were asked about their early experiences with literature. When did they first see themselves reflected back in the stories that they read? When did a protagonist beg of them to see more, feel more, be more? How did the absence of their experience - or inclusion in some cases - spur them on to write their own masterpieces? What role did their mentors and idols within the Black literary community play in their decision to become writers? Besides getting a glimpse into the birth of these authors' love of reading and writing, Edim has carefully selected and tucked between these pages recommended literary works by women of color. Special thanks goes out to NetGalley, Ballantine Books and Glory Edim for access to this wonderful work.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    I love reading books about reading. It’s always inspiring to hear about what books loomed large in a person’s life. And it’s doubly exciting when those looking back are authors giving insight to the texts that spurred them to write their own stories. I also genuinely respect the way women are able to connect with one another in a way men can’t, (won’t?). It’s really something to see. I’m envious. Glory Edim has created a phenomenon that started with conversations around a tee shirt she was wearin I love reading books about reading. It’s always inspiring to hear about what books loomed large in a person’s life. And it’s doubly exciting when those looking back are authors giving insight to the texts that spurred them to write their own stories. I also genuinely respect the way women are able to connect with one another in a way men can’t, (won’t?). It’s really something to see. I’m envious. Glory Edim has created a phenomenon that started with conversations around a tee shirt she was wearing. Well Read Black Girl was the printed tee shirt message. That has turned into a popular presence on social media, a book festival and now this wonderful work. Kudos to Glory. “The essays in the following pages remind us of the magnificence of literature; how it can provide us with a vision of ourselves, affirm our talents, and ultimately help us narrate our own stories.” In overseeing this work a common theme is representation. Many women comment here on the lack of representation they felt, even years before they had the language to express that lack, that’s why books are important. That became almost a mantra for me as I read through these story essays. Often after reading someone’s testimony, I would silently say to myself, that’s why books are important! Jamia Wilson writes, “Nikki gave me a sense of place that was grounded in my experience as a black child during a time when it felt like most of the books in my school library represented everyone else but me.” She is referring to poet Nikki Giovanni. Books have been an anchor for some, a mirror for others, a crystal ball for a few. In all stories, books matter, words comfort, inspire. And this essay collection insures the clarity of that message and it is one you’ll want to share with others and also frequently return to for its strong references, not only in the various narratives but for the many book recommendations sprinkled through out the text. This passage from Rebecca Walker, is representative of the entire book, “I still and will always believe that representation of all kinds is essential. My work—the memoirs, anthologies, novels, television pilots, magazine articles—is just one long attempt to make sure that people from different backgrounds are seen and heard, especially people who are in some practical way challenging the status quo, and offering different interpretations of what it means to be a human being right now.” It is absolutely necessary to compile these types of essays to keep spreading the transformative power of literature. A tremendous win for Glory Edim to have her name at the helm of this collection that will be bandied about for years to come. Thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for an advanced DRC. Book will drop Oct. 30, 2018.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    What a brilliant concept and gem of a book! A thoughtful partner gave Glory Edim a T-shirt for her birthday that said "Well Read Black Girl" and listed her favorite authors like Morrison, Walker, Angelou etc. The T-shirt garnered attention when lots of women wanted one too and it spawned a book club (Well Read Black Girl) in NYC. Edim (founder of said book club) poses a question: "When did you first see yourself in literature?"Thus are the ingredients of the book. Fifteen current Black female au What a brilliant concept and gem of a book! A thoughtful partner gave Glory Edim a T-shirt for her birthday that said "Well Read Black Girl" and listed her favorite authors like Morrison, Walker, Angelou etc. The T-shirt garnered attention when lots of women wanted one too and it spawned a book club (Well Read Black Girl) in NYC. Edim (founder of said book club) poses a question: "When did you first see yourself in literature?"Thus are the ingredients of the book. Fifteen current Black female authors write an essay that sprung in many ways from this question. These are authors of every genre including fiction, science fiction, poetry, nonfiction etc. Interestingly enough, none of the essays are repetitive or overlap. It's a really brilliant array. Not every essay is about seeing yourself in literature. Some of them are about what books they enjoyed as children that inspired them, moved them, defined them. It was a fascinating collection. At the end of every 3 essays, Edim recommends books in various genres. Needless to say my tbr filled up. But what was of most interest to me was what went on inside the minds of these writers. I loved the book and it got me to thinking about my own life. I've been a voracious reader most of my life. When I thought about the first time saw myself in literature, sadly the answer was in my mid 20s. I didn't read any African American themed books in the public school system. In the 80s, many of the classics had yet to be written or even acknowledged and frankly had to be introduced to me by my parents (who were not the readers that my sister and I became). My parents had Invisible Man and The Fire Next Time but didn't really encourage us to read them. Roots: The Saga of an American Family was out but to me it was a huge book I wasn’t' going to tackle. I was reading things like East of Eden and A Tale of Two Cities in high school. My first foray into African American books was The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I read it in my free time during basic training in the military. It felt rebellious and it was the first time I had read a book that had voices that related to my experiences. My first Toni Morrison novel was Song of Solomon. It was the first book that reminded me of family members. And Terry McMillian Waiting to Exhale was one of the first books in which I read characters that had elements that I saw in myself. I was at least 25 by the time that happened. I don't think I had an identity crisis back then; but these days some 30 years later, I'm able to see myself in abundance. I am loving the variety of books for all ages that are available. These days it is worldwide. My favorite of these essays was written by a woman who has written a book but is more known for her acting, Gabourey Sidibe. But they are all good and all inspirational and interesting. Because of the nature of the current crop of authors (and I mean current in more ways than one), it is my hope that Edim intends to publish more of these books every 10 years or so. This was great! Definitely recommended! 4.5 Bright Stars Read on kindle

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stacie C

    I’ve always been a voracious reader. My mother used to read me bedtime stories at night and as soon as I learned how to read, more often than not you would find me with a book in my hands. There are two books that stand out that were an obvious reflection of me and my family: The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton and Pass It On: African American Poetry by Wade Hudson. Those two books had Black people on the covers, Black people on the pages and were about Black people. Those were the two boo I’ve always been a voracious reader. My mother used to read me bedtime stories at night and as soon as I learned how to read, more often than not you would find me with a book in my hands. There are two books that stand out that were an obvious reflection of me and my family: The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton and Pass It On: African American Poetry by Wade Hudson. Those two books had Black people on the covers, Black people on the pages and were about Black people. Those were the two books I would always go back to. Even after years of reading Goosebumps, Fear Street and Stephen King. Even after imagining myself as Hermione in Harry Potter and well into my teenage years I would still find myself randomly grabbing those two books and reading the pages that influenced me so much when I was young. Reading this anthology brought me back to those books even though it’s been over a decade since I’ve read them. When I look back, those books are my anchors and I was lucky to be able to have those at such a young age. Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves is a beautifully curated anthology. It reflects the vast differences that make up Black women’s experience with literature. From seeing representation at an early age, to discovering true representation later on in life, to questioning your view of society or sexuality or what it means to be a woman and Black. That’s what I love about this book. Not only is it filled with essays by woman I admire and respect but their vulnerability and honesty on the page is invigorating. The stories they chose to share, all inspired by a literary work or works that affected their lives, gives the reader an in depth look at their lived experiences. Each essay is beautifully written and so reflective on who they were while reading and how that has affected the woman they’ve become. So much growth within these pages. I really enjoyed this collection as a whole. I knew while reading that this is something I would want to adorn my shelves, something I would reflect on and read again in the future. It’s also a resource. Edim made a really smart decision by listing different types of books throughout this anthology. I will now have a curated list of books from different genres by Black women that I can read, which is something I hadn’t expected but was very glad to see. This anthology is something that I believe every well-read Black girl can relate to, because we’ve all had that moment when we’ve read a book that has changed us. It’s beautiful to read a book where other Black women are sharing their experiences as well. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you Netgalley for this book in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Glory Edim asked a handful of black women writers when they first saw themselves in literature, and this essay collection includes their answers. I listened to the audio which I would not recommend. It would have been great if the contributors had narrated their own essays, but they're all read by the editor, making some of it feel a bit repetitive an hard to separate out. Also it's much harder to mark up an audiobook and there's just no way to read this without adding to your TBR list! I've alr Glory Edim asked a handful of black women writers when they first saw themselves in literature, and this essay collection includes their answers. I listened to the audio which I would not recommend. It would have been great if the contributors had narrated their own essays, but they're all read by the editor, making some of it feel a bit repetitive an hard to separate out. Also it's much harder to mark up an audiobook and there's just no way to read this without adding to your TBR list! I've already started readings collection from a poet I learned about from one of the essays. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology). <-- I copied this list from Audible.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Korrie’s Korner

    This book was inspiring. This book was hope. This book was encouragement down deep that I didn’t realize I needed. This book, a collection of essays, heart changing essays, written by various black women writers showed the importance of seeing ourselves in literature. “Reading allows us to witness ourselves. Being a reader is an incredible gift, providing me with a lens to interpret the world. Most important, it has invigorated my imagination and allowed me to choose which narratives I want to ce This book was inspiring. This book was hope. This book was encouragement down deep that I didn’t realize I needed. This book, a collection of essays, heart changing essays, written by various black women writers showed the importance of seeing ourselves in literature. “Reading allows us to witness ourselves. Being a reader is an incredible gift, providing me with a lens to interpret the world. Most important, it has invigorated my imagination and allowed me to choose which narratives I want to center and hold close.” I have come away with so many book recs that I’m so excited to read, that it will take me all of 2021 to read them. I love how a light was shone on some of the best black female authors, poets, and writers in the world. I am beyond proud to be a black woman, and humbled by those that have gone before me, and those that are even “walking” along side me on this road called life. We’re in this together.

  8. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    Being a reader is an incredible gift, providing me with a lens to interpret the world. Most important, it has invigorated my imagination and allowed me to choose which narratives I want to center and hold close. What a brilliant collection of essays by black women. I love books about books, readers and writers and Well-Read Black Girl covered all three. I admire so many of the writers who contributed to this collection, it is no wonder I devoured this book because I wanted to know more about Being a reader is an incredible gift, providing me with a lens to interpret the world. Most important, it has invigorated my imagination and allowed me to choose which narratives I want to center and hold close. What a brilliant collection of essays by black women. I love books about books, readers and writers and Well-Read Black Girl covered all three. I admire so many of the writers who contributed to this collection, it is no wonder I devoured this book because I wanted to know more about them and who influenced their writing. So many of the things they made references to I felt: 1. Growing up and reading books where the main character didn't look like them. 2. Being readers, to the point where their parents forced them to go out and play 3. I love how each could remember how fond they are of reading and when they first discovered a character that spoke to their soul. Glory Edim did an exceptional job of pulling together strong black women who are crushing it in their field. I loved reading about some of my favorite writer's background and the women who influenced them. Thoroughly enjoyed this collection Essential Reading For Black Girls

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bree Hill

    One of those gems I’m grateful I picked up. This is a collection of black women sharing their stories of finding authors who inspired them to become writers and finding works where they finally saw characters who looked like them. I loved reading these ladies’ stories. Highly recommend the audiobook if you can get your hands on it. Also throughout the book are recommendations so have a paper and pen handy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I really loved this. I'm buying hardcopies for my daughter's. I really loved this. I'm buying hardcopies for my daughter's.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Tyler

    This book perfectly captures what it feels like to be a black girl that loves books and the difference they can make in your life...I can’t wait for everyone to experience this one!!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    mindful.librarian ☀️

    ✨ literary spark . This essay collection is pure gold, my reading friends. An anthology of works about books and reading by some of the most prominent Black female writers today, these essays divulge a vast array of texts that inspired and shaped each author. . As a school librarian I have always firmly believed that there is no childhood canon that will reach all children, necessitating wide-ranging collections available to all. This book solidified that belief. . We have no idea what work will conne ✨ literary spark . This essay collection is pure gold, my reading friends. An anthology of works about books and reading by some of the most prominent Black female writers today, these essays divulge a vast array of texts that inspired and shaped each author. . As a school librarian I have always firmly believed that there is no childhood canon that will reach all children, necessitating wide-ranging collections available to all. This book solidified that belief. . We have no idea what work will connect with each child ~ in these essays, the authors connected with specific books based on shared trauma, race, family similarities and more. One author connected with a specific type of book because of aspirations to be like the characters in the book, rather than who she really was. . The diversity in the books that shaped these authors blew me away ~ proof that every book has the power to be deeply meaningful to even one reader. We need to ensure that every child has access to as many different stories as possible. The race of a character or author is not the one and only factor that provides those windows/mirrors etc we like to talk about all the time. It’s so much more nuanced than that. . Whew. I could go on for days about how these essays and book lists touched me, but I won’t because so many other people have thoughts on it too! . Bottom line: if you are a reader who loves to read about reading and explore the literary world, add this to your TBR immediately. I usually don’t say this, but this really is one to buy rather than borrow so you can use the lists within for a lifetime of book choices.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cortney

    3.25 Stars Seems appropriate that my first read of the year is #diversespines book of the month Well Read Black Girl by Glory Edim. I enjoyed this collection of essays that mirrored some of my own experiences growing up as a lover of books. I must say the two essays that stood out the most were Gabourey Sidibe’s “Gal: A Hard Row To Hoe” and N. K. Jemisin’s “Dreaming Awake.” They were both brutally honest and funny.

  14. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    Beautiful. There's magic in finding yourself. There's something powerful about seeing your face in the stories around you on television, in film, in the media, in books, etc. It's a privilege that's not generally afforded to people of colour, but we're snatching it left, right and center. We're telling our own stories and there are so many OGs/legends who shared their/our stories for our pleasure, so that we could have a place. They carved out a space for us, the Toni Morrisons, the Nikki Giovan Beautiful. There's magic in finding yourself. There's something powerful about seeing your face in the stories around you on television, in film, in the media, in books, etc. It's a privilege that's not generally afforded to people of colour, but we're snatching it left, right and center. We're telling our own stories and there are so many OGs/legends who shared their/our stories for our pleasure, so that we could have a place. They carved out a space for us, the Toni Morrisons, the Nikki Giovannis, the Maya Angelous, their writing made us real. I loved the premise of this book and it expanded my read list 10 fold. So many great recommendations and selections. My favourite two stories of authors finding themselves in literature around them were: Legacy by Rebecca Walker and Space to Move Around In by Renée Watson. Two highly relatable pieces. Check them out!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Darkowaa

    I’m so glad I finally picked this up from my bookshelf, because my reading slump was soooo deep! This collection has taken me out of my slump and imbibed me with new inspiration. This anthology is a wonderful ode to Black sisterhood and to reading. Each contributor’s take on reading/writing/existing as a Black woman in this world felt like journal entries laden with affirmations to the reader and themselves. To have so many established writers contributing in this collection is an honor I’m sure I’m so glad I finally picked this up from my bookshelf, because my reading slump was soooo deep! This collection has taken me out of my slump and imbibed me with new inspiration. This anthology is a wonderful ode to Black sisterhood and to reading. Each contributor’s take on reading/writing/existing as a Black woman in this world felt like journal entries laden with affirmations to the reader and themselves. To have so many established writers contributing in this collection is an honor I’m sure Glory is forever proud of. My favorite essays were by- Renée Watson, Stephanie Powell Watts, Bsrat Mezghebe, Mahogany L. Browene & Kaitlyn Greenidge’s many recommendations at the end were amazing. Will elaborate more in a full review, soon - africanbookaddict.com

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bobbieshiann

    Review to come.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshunda Sanders

    I wanted to re-read my galley again, which I took some time to do this weekend, before I wrote a review because I wanted to remember and savor all of the goodness of this anthology, which for Black women & girl readers is replete with testimony and witness, healing and recognition, a booklist to last you for a good long while and more than that, even. More maybe than I can express here, so I'll write more certainly as someone who has her own story of a life shaped by finding Black women writers I wanted to re-read my galley again, which I took some time to do this weekend, before I wrote a review because I wanted to remember and savor all of the goodness of this anthology, which for Black women & girl readers is replete with testimony and witness, healing and recognition, a booklist to last you for a good long while and more than that, even. More maybe than I can express here, so I'll write more certainly as someone who has her own story of a life shaped by finding Black women writers then becoming one in order to give back the nuanced gift that was passed along to me. It felt like it should be as easy and simple for me to write about a book I love so much and one in which so many different complex yet simple aspects of myself are represented and laid bare as it is for me to point out (or try) when something isn't quite working for me in a book or there's something amiss, but I found the opposite to be true here, like when I'm working on a novel or story and I'm too close to a character or a scene, there's too much recognition emotionally, so I can't actually logically figure out how to describe it with language. Some things demand to be felt first. So it was with the bibliomancy I found reading Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves. When I was reading it the first time, I remembered how I felt the day that Solange's album, A Seat at The Table came out. I was still working in government but in the last days and another weary black woman got on the elevator with me and -- totally out of character -- I leaned over to her and said, "You should listen to Solange, she'll help you feel better." If this anthology had/has a soundtrack, I know Solange is on it, singing, "this shit is for us." And by us, Glory means Black women. The specificity of that love is what I mean by bibliomancy, why I view this as a sacred text, for me. Why it is healing. Black women are always watched, policed, hunted, burdened. But we are rarely served, gifted, celebrated, lifted with joy, with recognition, with space that acknowledged that we are our own best thing, that we are more than shadows of the experiences of others who are more often deemed universal. But in this anthology, I recognized a small, sweet point, which is this: It is rare for us to cultivate exclusive space for the Sisterhood as it is called where others are not looking or eavesdropping or watching for things to appropriate or steal from us and call theirs. Reading and writing community, alongside real life events and activities, remain the sole acts of resistance to these demands from others that Black women give over even aspects of our inner, emotional, imaginative and mental lives to those who want everything about us positioned and turned toward their edification. Glory writes in the introduction that Maya Angelou and the other authors she encountered "have taught me that, as Black women, we define ourselves for ourselves. We are not looking for anyone else to give us validation; because we have each other...Instinctively, Black women writers have always had to take care of ourselves. Creating our own limitless boundaries, whether we explore taboos, stereotypes, the theoretical idea of love, or the literary canon itself. We are writing ourselves into spaces that neglect or ignore us. Headstrong. A necessary quality to withstand the losses and celebrate the victories." I could write much much more here, but I want to elaborate more on my own platform, which I'll do. Each writer -- from Veronica Chambers to Dhonielle Clayton, Tayari Jones to Jacqueline Woodson, N.K. Jemisin and Barbara Smith and Rebecca Walker and Jamia Wilson -- offers deep insight into their development as a reader, writer and creative. For many of them, this begins with titles and the first mirrors of themselves, of black girls or people seen in a positive light or any light at all; for some it was not necessarily representation but the way our foremothers like Toni Morrison offered us new information and language for being in relationship to ourselves and others, how Nikki Giovanni offered us poetry of joy, bell hooks & Alice Walker offered us feminism that had our whole selves in it, April Sinclair gave us space, finally, to explore sexuality outside of the confines of heterosexuality for Black girls and on and on. If you're reading this review, you're likely someone who loves and knows Glory Edim, and is part of the Well-Read Black Girl fan club anyway. But I recommend that you pass on this love to the other Black girls and women in your life who are not yet convinced of the quiet, steady healing power that resides in picking up just one of the books recommended here, reading just one essay at a time over the course of however long. It is a gift. It is the rare gift that is becoming less rare and will increasingly become less rare, as what Glory calls a continuation of our "literary inheritance" and legacy. It's existence and publication whispers to us, "You deserve your own story. Your own chapter. Your own book. Here. Come see. Then pass it on."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

    Thanks to #netgalley and #randomhousepublishing for giving me my first ARC, Well-Read Black Girl! This book is the epitome of why representation matters. Well-Read Black Girl is an anthology of essays by black women writers. All of the women represented in the book share a common love for reading at an early age, and the lack of representation in books with girls who look like them. Well-Read Black girl is very timely and necessary. Thanks to the wonderful women who contributed to this book and Thanks to #netgalley and #randomhousepublishing for giving me my first ARC, Well-Read Black Girl! This book is the epitome of why representation matters. Well-Read Black Girl is an anthology of essays by black women writers. All of the women represented in the book share a common love for reading at an early age, and the lack of representation in books with girls who look like them. Well-Read Black girl is very timely and necessary. Thanks to the wonderful women who contributed to this book and to the editor Glory Edim, girls and women today can relate to the characters created through all of their voices.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I love every single thing about this book, from the book lists, to the personal stories, to the IRL book clubs. Glory you have created something wonderfully magical, a repository for everyone but especially for women of color to easily find ourselves and see reflections of ourselves in the written word.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carla

     “Well- Read Black Girl” is an anthology of essays by various authors such as Tayari Jones (An American Marriage ), Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming ), Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing ) and many others. This book was an amazing experience of Black Girl Magic. As a self proclaimed " Well- read Black Girl" myself, I could relate to many of the stories that were told throughout. This book really made me reflect back on some of my own reading habits as well as think back to the how, why,  a  “Well- Read Black Girl” is an anthology of essays by various authors such as Tayari Jones (An American Marriage ), Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming ), Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing ) and many others. This book was an amazing experience of Black Girl Magic. As a self proclaimed " Well- read Black Girl" myself, I could relate to many of the stories that were told throughout. This book really made me reflect back on some of my own reading habits as well as think back to the how, why,  and wheres of when I fell in love with reading. Diverse books are super important. I really appreciated how they compiled a list of all the books that were discussed and put it in the back for easy reference. My to-read  list has grown tremendously with the recommendations found in this book. Overall, this book was simply inspiring. To check out this review and more, be sure to follow me on Instagram: Instagram

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicole O

    This book is a much needed anthology of stories from prominent black women writers. Never before have I thought to ask myself when, how or why I fell in love with books, or when I first saw myself within the pages of a story or novel. This collection dives head first into these questions, with each essayist writing about the works and people that have influenced them the most in both their lives and their careers. I guarantee you will walk away from this book with an intimidating (in a good way) This book is a much needed anthology of stories from prominent black women writers. Never before have I thought to ask myself when, how or why I fell in love with books, or when I first saw myself within the pages of a story or novel. This collection dives head first into these questions, with each essayist writing about the works and people that have influenced them the most in both their lives and their careers. I guarantee you will walk away from this book with an intimidating (in a good way) amount of new books added to your "to-read" list. I recommend this book for aspiring writers, book lovers, women of color, and everyone in between.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    A book about reading books with essays written by Black female authors and how they found representation in literature. This anthology had been thinking about my reading life when I was younger and I wish I was exposed to more authors who looked like me and shared similar experiences of a Black girl coming of age in America. Instead I spent my time reading VC Andrews, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike and Sweet Valley High. The only thing wrong with this book is that I don’t know when I will have the A book about reading books with essays written by Black female authors and how they found representation in literature. This anthology had been thinking about my reading life when I was younger and I wish I was exposed to more authors who looked like me and shared similar experiences of a Black girl coming of age in America. Instead I spent my time reading VC Andrews, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike and Sweet Valley High. The only thing wrong with this book is that I don’t know when I will have the time to read all of the mentioned books listed at the end.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    "Reading for me was a vehicle for self-exploration when real life wasn't safe." -Dhonielle Clayton Well-Read Black Girl is a fascinating collection of essays edited by Glory Edim, who created the Well-Read Black Girl community. These essays are by women from different walks of life who all adore reading. They talk about when they first found themselves in books, authors and books they connected with, and how reading changed their lives. If you are a book lover, your hear will be touched by hearin "Reading for me was a vehicle for self-exploration when real life wasn't safe." -Dhonielle Clayton Well-Read Black Girl is a fascinating collection of essays edited by Glory Edim, who created the Well-Read Black Girl community. These essays are by women from different walks of life who all adore reading. They talk about when they first found themselves in books, authors and books they connected with, and how reading changed their lives. If you are a book lover, your hear will be touched by hearing about these moments for other people whose lives have been changed by reading. This book led me to reflect on my own privilege of being able to see myself in books from day one. I never felt excluded, and never questioned it when I was younger. This is why diverse books are so important. Everyone deserves to have characters to connect with in easily accessible books. Readers / reviewers, please read & promote diverse books so that this doesn't have to happen. I love that Well-Read Black Girl gives practical solutions - there are so many amazing book lists in here, and at the end, there's a large list of every book mentioned in this book. Lists are given within specific genres in the book - after one of the writers talks about poetry, a list of black female poets is inserted right after her essay. Thank you so much to Random House for sending me this one to review. I enjoyed it very much, and now I have a lot of new books to check out. I admire the honesty of the women in this book, and I am thankful that they shared their stories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tonja

    I love reading books about reading. I especially enjoyed this one as it brought together stories from Some of our best black authors. It shines a light on the importance of hearing these voices regardeless of race, age or gender. The essays were creative and original. It was a treat to read some of my favorite authors like Tayari Jones, some I had not read in awhile such as Rebecca Walker and a few new names I’ll be sure and pick up!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Loved everything in this collection! It’s about books, the reading experience, finding self in stories or writing them if they don’t exist, and celebrating black women. And there are suggested reading lists🤓!!! Added so much to my TBR and will be returning to this collection in the future for my own education. Definitely worth reading! 5 stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Classy

    Reading about what books sime of my favorite authors enjoyed or what books inspired them was fascinating. I felt like I was chatting with each author over a drink while they talked about their love of books and how the written word helped them deal with the obstacles they faced. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Initially, when I learned of this book I thought it was a gathering of fiction by some of today's most prolific African-American women writers. To my surprise, the book instead consisted of prolific women writers of color writing about the books that influenced them early in their careers and beyond. Although all of the essays were wonderful and include some of today's most touted writers including Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, and Jaqueline Woodson, a few stood out to me. Veronica Chambers story o Initially, when I learned of this book I thought it was a gathering of fiction by some of today's most prolific African-American women writers. To my surprise, the book instead consisted of prolific women writers of color writing about the books that influenced them early in their careers and beyond. Although all of the essays were wonderful and include some of today's most touted writers including Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, and Jaqueline Woodson, a few stood out to me. Veronica Chambers story of encountering Jamaica Kincaid's work in college was poignant. Rebecca Walker recalling reading her mother (Alice Walker's) first children's book and discussing how it made her understand her mother more as a writer was heart warming. Marita Golden's musings about her discovering Zora Neale Hurston's work and her legacy as a writer was touching. As a writer, it made me think of the books and writers that shaped my writing sensibilities. As a kid it was Brenda Wilkinson who wrote the Ludell series and later on J. California Cooper. Edim's book is necessary. I remember reading I Know What the Red Clay Looks Like: The Voice and Vision of Black American Women Writers by Rebecca Carroll. Like Carroll's book the essay's in Edim's anthology are poignant, powerful, and well done. People will be talking about this collection for a long time. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read it prior to publication.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tender&Delicate

    This essay collection defined, magnified and gratified what it means to be a well- read black girl with such exuberance. Each author found a unique way to express their love of books and how this has sculpted them as women, readers and writers. Allowing readers to remember and reflect on their own love story with books and how it evolved over time. Recapturing authors and stories such as V.C Andrews, Judy Blum, the Bernstein Bears and Sweet Valley brought back so many memories that has shaped my This essay collection defined, magnified and gratified what it means to be a well- read black girl with such exuberance. Each author found a unique way to express their love of books and how this has sculpted them as women, readers and writers. Allowing readers to remember and reflect on their own love story with books and how it evolved over time. Recapturing authors and stories such as V.C Andrews, Judy Blum, the Bernstein Bears and Sweet Valley brought back so many memories that has shaped my love of reading today. Growing up in the 90's there weren't any YA authors of color or beautiful images of black girls and boys that looked like me or my family gracing the covers. Today I am overwhelmed with the abundance of books by AA authors, I just truly can't read enough. I believe the books in my younger years allowed me to gravitate to stories and words during that time, but today I can relate to the books that I read thru physical attributes, socioeconomic status and family dynamics. As an adult I am partial to books written by AA authors because of the few exposures I had as a child. Fortunately for me not having a depiction of myself in novels did not deter me from reading as it has done to so many AA boys and girls that have grown into men and women that truly despise reading. I am excited to read many of the books referenced in the book to expound my reading horizon and I fell empowered to be a well- read black girl.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Richelle Robinson

    I need all brown bookworms to read this anthology. I need all bookworms to read this anthology. You won’t regret it at all. This anthology reminded me of my younger book worm self and I found myself nodding along as I read. This book also gives you plenty of recommendations for several genres written by black authors which I loved as well. Some of the authors in this anthology I have read before and some are new to me. I did like some stories more than others but overall I enjoyed this anthology I need all brown bookworms to read this anthology. I need all bookworms to read this anthology. You won’t regret it at all. This anthology reminded me of my younger book worm self and I found myself nodding along as I read. This book also gives you plenty of recommendations for several genres written by black authors which I loved as well. Some of the authors in this anthology I have read before and some are new to me. I did like some stories more than others but overall I enjoyed this anthology very much. I listened to the audio book and the narrator did an excellent job.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Imani406

    Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. When anyone asks for book recommendations, this will now be my go to b/c it proves a plethora of book recommendations. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my top 10 list of favorite books (some which are noted in this anthology) but this here encompasses almost all the great black woman authors. This is absolutely a book for the well read black girl or those who inspire to become one. I’d highly recommend this book.

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