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

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

Edited by Glory Edim. Ballantine, $20 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-61977-2

Started in 2015 as an Instagram page, Well-Read Black Girl has grown into a nationwide book club and Brooklyn literary festival. WRBG founder Edim’s collection of brief, pithy, and original essays by 21 distinguished black women addresses the question, “When did you first see yourself in literature?” The answers include discovering “the right book at the right time,” reading a book first through one lens and later through another, and recognizing oneself in figures as seemingly far removed from one’s experience as Hans Christian Andersen’s little match girl. As expected, a pantheon of black women writers are acknowledged, with Veronica Chambers, Marita Golden, and Jamia Wilson paying tribute to, respectively, Jamaica Kincaid, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nikki Giovanni. There are thought-provoking surprises as well: Stephanie Powell Watts recalls finding inspiration in the Jehovah’s Witnesses magazine Watchtower, and N.K. Jemisin in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The book’s thematic organization—sections include “Books on Black Feminism,” “Plays by Black Women,” and “Poetry by Black Women”—makes it easy for readers to dive in based on personal preferences, though they could just as contentedly read from cover to cover. Speaking directly to black women readers, this book contains a journey from which anyone can derive enjoyment and benefit. (Nov.)