ON TODAY’S POST: The most anticipated African American Books 2021 Book List recommended by the Detroit Public Library. Add these great forthcoming books to read by Black writers to your 2021 reading list!

2021 Reading List: 10 Most Anticipated African American Books to Read in 2021. Photo location at the Detroit Public Library in Downtown Detroit.

What books are on your 2021 reading list right now? Last year, I set a reading goal for myself to read twenty books. I was just five books shy from reaching my goal, but I’m still proud of myself for reading as much as I did. This year, I’m going to follow the same reading challenge and try to read at least 20 books. I recently purchased President Obama’s new memoir A Promised Land from Souce Booksellers in Detroit. I loved Forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming so I can’t wait to dive into President Obama’s book, too! 

A few weeks ago, I connected with the Detroit Public Library (DPL) to find out what new books we should be on the lookout for this year. Below are the ten most anticipated African American books of 2021 the DPL librarians suggested. Let me know which book(s) you’re excited to read this year!


Angie Thomas new book is a prequel to The Hate U Give. The book is called Concrete Rose and it's about Maverick, Starr's dad.
Concrete Rose Angie Thomas | Harper Collins

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (Available now!)

New York Times best-selling author Angie Thomas released her latest book called Concrete Rose on January 12th. The novel is a prequel to The Hate U Give and takes place seventeen years before Starr Carter witnessed her friend Khalil get shot and killed by police. Concrete Rose tells the story of Maverick, Starr’s father, and his life in Garden Heights.

BOOK SUMMARY: If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money, he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control. Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father. (Summary excerpt from Harper Collins Publisher)

Charles M. Blow new book The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto
The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles Blow | Harper Collins

The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto By Charles Blow (January 26, 2021)

I love following journalist Charles Blow on Instagram and Twitter to get his insight on politics and social justice issues. He is a New York Times columnist and often provides commentary on political issues on CNN

BOOK SUMMARY: The acclaimed New York Times columnist never wanted to write a “race book.” But as violence against Black people—both physical and psychological—seemed only to increase in recent years, culminating in the historical pandemic and protests of the summer of 2020, Blow felt compelled to write a new story for Black Americans.

Drawing on history, political observations, and Blow’s personal experience as a Black son of the South, The Devil You Know proposes nothing short of the most audacious power play by Black people in the history of this country, as well as a road map to equality. (Summary excerpt from Harper Collins Publishers)

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins | Harper Collins

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins (February 9, 2021)

A few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Beverly Jenkins’ romance novels and I’m excited for her new book! (She’s also a Detroit native!) If you’re not familiar with Ms. Jenkins’ work, she writes historical and contemporary romance. Wild Rain is the second novel in her Women Who Dare series. This novel takes place after the Civil War and follows Spring, a rancher in Wyoming who meets Colton Lee, a newspaper reporter.

BOOK SUMMARY: A reporter has come to Wyoming to do a story on doctors for his Black newspaper back east. He thinks Colton Lee will be an interesting subject…until he meets Colton’s sister Spring. She runs her own ranch, wears denim pants instead of dresses, and is the most fascinating woman he’s ever met.

But Spring, who has overcome a raucous and scandalous past, isn’t looking for, nor does she want, love. As their attraction grows, will their differences come between them or unite them for an everlasting love? (Summary excerpt from Harper Collins Publisher)

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson (February 2, 2021)

Nancy Johnson is an Emmy-nominated, award-winning TV journalist and The Kindest Lie is her debut novel!

BOOK SUMMARY: The Kindest Lie examines the heartbreaking divide between black and white communities and plumbs the emotional depths of the struggles faced by ordinary Americans in the wake of the financial crisis.

Capturing the profound racial injustices and class inequalities roiling society, Nancy Johnson’s debut novel offers an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream. (Summary excerpt from Nancy Johnson’s official website)

Sista Soulja Life After Death sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever
Life After Death by Sista Soulja | Simon & Schuster

Life After Death by Sista Soulja (March 2, 2021)

The wait is over! The sequel to Sista Soulja’s debut novel The Coldest Winter Ever is finally here and we get to find out what happened to Winter Santiaga.

BOOK SUMMARY: For two decades, fans have begged for answers about what happened to Winter. Now all is revealed in Sister Souljah’s page-turning sequel, filled with her trademark passion, danger, temptation, and adventure.

With her jail sentence coming to a close, Winter is ready to step back into the spotlight and reclaim her throne. (Summary excerpt from Simon & Schuster Publisher)

Make time for reading this year! Check out these 10 African American books to read in 2021.
Wish you had more time to read? Click HERE for four ways you can make time for reading!
Luvvie Ajayi Jones new book Professional Troublemaker
Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones | Penguin Random House

Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones  (March 2, 2021)

In 2016, Luvvie Ajayi Jones brought us I’m Judging You. Now the New York Times bestselling author is back with a new inspirational book called Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual. I’m looking forward to reading Luvvie’s new book because I would love to learn how to use my voice through my writing without feeling great anxiety all of the time. 

BOOK SUMMARY: In Professional Troublemaker, Luvvie discusses “what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we’ve been silencing–because truth-telling is a muscle.

The point is not to be fearless, but to know we are afraid and charge forward regardless. It is to recognize that the things we must do are more significant than our fears. This book is about how to live boldly in spite of all the reasons we have to cower. Let’s go!” (Summary excerpt from Penguin Random House

African American Literature The Conductors, an historical fiction book about the Underground Railroad by Nicole Glover
The Conductors by Nicole Glover

The Conductors by Nicole Glover (March 2, 2021)

Here’s another historical fiction novel you may love: The Conductors by Nicole Glover. This novel is about former Underground Railroad conductors Hetty and Benjy Rhodes and takes place after the Civil War in Philadelphia.

BOOK SUMMARY: While Hetty and her husband have solved dozens of murders, their newest case is involves the brutal murder of a fried. While the death is terrible enough, the circumstances around it lead Hetty and Benjy into a number perils.

Perils that involved snobby elites, doubts about their closest friends, magic of the most dangerous sort, and unexpected revelations that will change everything… (Summary excerpt from Nicole Glover’s official website)

2021 Reading List: Wild Women Blues by Denny S. Bryce
Wild Women Blues by Denny S. Bryce

Wild Women Blues by Denny S. Bryce (March 30, 2021)

Wild Women Blues is Denny S. Bryce’s debut historical novel. She intertwines two time periods, the mid-1920’s Jazz Age and modern-day Chicago, focusing on characters Honoree Dalcour and Sawyer Hayes. 

BOOK SUMMARY: (1925) Chicago is the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper’s daughter, willing to work hard and dance every night on her way to the top. Dreamland offers a path to the good life, socializing with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But Chicago is also awash in bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. And a young woman driven by ambition might risk more than she can stand to lose.

(2015) Film student Sawyer Hayes arrives at the bedside of 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour, still reeling from a devastating loss that has taken him right to the brink. Sawyer has rested all his hope on this frail but formidable woman, the only living link to the legendary Oscar Micheaux. If he’s right—if she can fill in the blanks in his research, perhaps he can complete his thesis and begin a new chapter in his life. But the links Honoree makes are not ones he’s expecting… (Summary excerpt from Denny S. Bryce’s official website)

2021 Books to Read: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (March 30, 2021)    

Libertie is another historical fiction novel that takes place during the Reconstruction period. Whiting Award-winning author Kaitlyn Greenidge new novel is inspired by the first Black female doctors in the United States. 

BOOK SUMMARY: Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark. 

When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come. (Summary excerpt from Kaitlyn Greenidge’s official website)

2021 Reading List: While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams | Penguin Random House

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams (May 11, 2021)

Politician and Voting Rights Activist Stacey Abrams’ new book While Justice Sleeps is a suspense and thriller novel about character Avery Keene who is a law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn. Avery unexpectedly becomes Justice Wynn’s legal guardian and finds herself caught up in solving Justice Wynn’s controversial cases.  

BOOK SUMMARY: Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court—a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field.

She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington. (Summary excerpt from Penguin Random House)


2021 Reading List. Detroit Public Library in Downtown Detroit. Books to Read in 2021

Detroit Public Library Special Event on Tuesday, January 19th

In partnership with Source Booksellers, the DPL will host its next “Author Series event virtually on Tuesday, January 19th.

James Dale and Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings will discuss the late Congressman Elijah Cummings‘ work and dedication toward democracy and his last warnings about the current political state. Satirist, author, and former Detroit Free Press columnist Oneita Jackson will moderate the discussion.

Click HERE to register online for the free event!

Special thanks to the Detroit Public Library for sharing these ten book recommendations with us!

Blog photos by Albina, Detroit Photographer | Location: Detroit Public Library in Downtown Detroit



Written by

Jennifer Hamra

Freelance creative Jennifer Hamra created her blog Good Life Detroit in 2015 after relocating from Tennessee to Southeast Michigan.

Inspired by her love for personal blogging and photography, Jennifer likes to share her favorite Detroit things, from cool places to visit (the hidden gems are her favorite!) to the amazing people she has connected with over the years.

When she's not busy juggling family life and her creative projects, you can find her at an art gallery, community event, farmers market, or spending quiet time at home with a good book and cup of tea.

Jennifer lives in the metro Detroit area with her husband Travis and their six children.

Connect with Jennifer on social media @goodlifedetroit on all social media platforms or via email at [email protected].