If you are anything like me you understand the crazy love one can have for reading. I have read, devoured, books for as long as I can remember (literally as my mum taught me to read when I was only a few years old). I spent my elementary school years pretending I was George in The Famous Five, or Harriet the Spy. Later on I was Cathy yearning after Heathcliff and then Jacqueline in Gone To Soldiers. I always had a pool of heroines I could relate to and who I wanted to be. Growing up it never dawned on me that the while I may not have had a typical childhood or upbringing, I still had no issues finding characters in books I related to. Actually, that never actually crossed my mind. Most of the characters I read about were white. And I had parents who made sure I read diversely and widely. It was only when I discovered Toni Morrison and Alice Walker thanks to our curriculum in a French high school that I discovered that my reading up until then was in no shape or form as diverse as I thought it was.
Well-Read Black Girl started as a book club to center and celebrate Black literature and has expanded into a huge, and growing, online community and literary festival. In this book, the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, Glory Edim, has curated a wonderful selection of essays by Black women writers, activists, and readers. You can read stories by writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, Rebecca Walker, and Gabourey Sidibe, as well as many others.
Well-Read Black Girl is an eye-opening read. Can you imagine having to actually research books with characters who look like you? I can’t. They were and still are readily available. Reading through some of the brilliant essays in this book made it all the more clearer to me how much harder we need to work collectively, and on a personal level too, to not only make sure everyone feels represented in literature but to also read, promote, and focus on work those who are underrepresented, and most of all Black women. By making a more conscious effort to do so this year I have discovered so much wonderful work, and it’s ridiculous that there are so many talented women out there who we may never get to read because they aren’t being published. I also discovered so many more books that I need to read throughout this collection too. I loved that after every essay or so there was a list of recommended books and/or authors.
I particularly loved reading Jamia Wilson’s haunting words, as well as Rebecca Walker’s essay, but every single one of them is an excellent read. I do love how the theme of representation is central to the anthology but how each woman’s experience is unique. I love to read and I love to write, and I love reading about those who love to read and write.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!