15 books for Black History Month recommended by Birmingham bookstores

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Just one of the many excellent titles by Black authors available at Birmingham bookstores. Photo via The Little Professor

Black History Month is a great time to beef up your bookshelf with books by Black authors. Keep reading to see what Birmingham bookstores recommend you add to your reading list for Black History Month and beyond.

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The Little Professor

A Homewood classic, The Little Professor is the Birmingham area’s oldest independent bookstore. Read all about its new location in Homewood in this 2017 Bham Now article. Check out their Black History Month books recs below.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi

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Four Hundred Souls inside The Little Professor bookshop. Photo via The Little Professor
  • Why buy: “We can’t summarize it better than the publisher did! ‘While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith–instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.'”
  • Price: $25.60
  • Get it: Order it here, or pick it up in-store.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

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Begin Again by Eddie S. Claude Jr. Photo via The Little Professor
  • Why buy: “A genre-bending book, this book uses the structure and thoughts from one of America’s most prominent scholars, James Baldwin, to find meaning, hope, and guidance for our current cultural moment.”
  • Price: $27
  • Get it: Order it here, or pick it up in-store.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

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Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison. Photo via The Little Professor
  • Why buy: “It’s so important to preserve the stories of and celebrate the impact that Black women have made on all of American history—from science to the arts to politics to business and more!”
  • Price: $17.99
  • Get it: Order it here or pick it up in-store.

What you need to know about The Little Professor:

Burdock Book Collective

The Burdock Book Collective is an intersectional feminist bookstore that brings its founders’ passion for social justice to its vast collection of books. They curate their store with a unique perspective and below have discussed how the books pictured work together to create a larger picture for Black History Month.

“We want to acknowledge our own white gaze in the formulation of this list. As two white, queer bookstore owners, committed to prison abolition and intersectional feminism, we felt it was important to include foundational texts like Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, which continues to inform recent scholarship and popular literature like Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper. There are so many books to choose from and this list is in no way comprehensive!”

Burdock Book Collective

Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

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One of this writers personal favorites. Photo via Burdock Book Collective
  • Why buy: “The characters you will meet in Sing Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward are complex and multidimensional as they struggle to make sense of the past and pave a road toward the future, encountering systemic challenges of addiction, incarceration, and poverty throughout.”
  • Price: $17
  • Get it: Order it here.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

  • Why buy: “We wanted to highlight the importance of fiction and science fiction writers’ ability to imagine revolutionary futures that center Black liberation, like The Deep by Rivers Solomon and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.”
  • Price: (in order) $14.99, $16.99
  • Get it: Order The Deep here. Order Parable of the Sower here.

No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell Moore, How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones and Breathe by Imani Perry

  • Why buy: “Finally, we chose books that celebrate, honor, and uplift the radical power inherent in Black joy, Black love, and Black queer relationships, like No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell Moore, How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones and Breathe by [Birmingham-native] Imani Perry.”
  • Price (in order): $16.99, $17, $18
  • Get it: Order No Ashes in the Fire here. Order How We Fight for Our Lives here. Order Breathe here.

Here’s what you need to know about the Burdock Book Collective:

Alabama Booksmith

One of the coolest things about Alabama Booksmith is that its entire inventory consists of signed books. The store also ships worldwide, which means if you’re not able to make it down to 19th Place, you can still get your signed book. See below what the Booksmith recommends you add to your bookshelf for Black History Month.

Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

  • Why buy: This book by sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar “brings a thoughtful, honest, reasonable and compelling case for how America can create equal opportunity for all its citizens. Everyone who can read – should read this book.”
  • Price: $27.95
  • Get it: Order it here.

Here’s what you need to know about Alabama Booksmith:

Thank You Books

A woman-owned bookstore in Crestwood village, Thank You Books is a little newer to the Birmingham book scene. But its popularity has taken off. Learn more about the bookstore and its opening in 2019 in this Bham Now article. Check out their Black History Month book recommendations below.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

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The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Photo via Thank You Books
  • Why buy: “This is our March book club pick, and we will meet via Zoom on Sunday, 3/7, at 5:30. All are welcome—email hello@thankyoubookshop.com for Zoom info.”
  • Price: $11.99
  • Get it: Order it here or pick it up in-store

Magic City Gospel and dark//thing by Ashley M. Jones and The Book of Awesome Black Americans by Monique Jones

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Books by Birmingham sisters Ashley M. and Monique Jones. Photo via Thank You Books
  • Why buy: These three books by local writers (and sisters) are incredible and proof of their unmistakable talent. According to Thank You Books, “Magic City Gospel is a love song to Birmingham, the Magic City of the South… This work, full as it is of slashes of all kinds, ultimately separates darkness from thingness, affirming and celebrating humanity… The achievements of Black Americans included in this book range from athletic to artistic, literary to scientific. Their stories encourage readers, especially teenage boys and girls, to find their own paths for change.”
  • Price: (left to right) $14.95, $17.95, $16.95
  • Get it: Order Magic City Gospel, dark//thing, and The Book of Awesome Black Americans

Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

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This copy of Randi Pink’s Angel of Greenwood is signed. Photo via Thank You Books
  • Why buy: This YA historical fiction novel by Birmingham author Randi Pink details the story of Angel, who witnessed the Greenwood massacre in Tulsa, OK in 1921. This copy of the book is signed.
  • Price: $18.99
  • Get it: Order it here or pick it up in-store.

What you need to know about Thank You Books:

Grab your tote bag and get to a bookstore! And if you’re looking for more local authors to read, find tons of them in this recent Bham Now article (including Ashley Jones and Randi Pink).

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Here at Bham Now, we love supporting local.

If you’re looking to shop local, but don’t know where to start, check out our local business directory with 690 businesses.

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Claire Hancock
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