Skip to main contentSkip to footer

15 powerful and essential books on racial injustice to add to your reading list

These books are vital to include in your reading list

books on racial injustice
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
Updated: June 9, 2020
Share this:
girl woman other

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests taking part in both the UK and beyond following the devastating death of George Floyd, it's clear that learning and reading about racial injustice and stories of racism across the globe is a vital step in moving forward. While there's plenty of fantastic and informative reads out there, we've done a roundup of some vital books to add to your reading list.

Girl, Woman, Other - Bernardine Evaristo

This 2019 Booker Prize winner tells the story of 12 very different lives, focusing on modern Britain and black womanhood. The stories of their families, friends and more from across the country are told as they explore their own personal journeys as well as those from the last hundred years.

Girl, Woman, Other, £6.99, Amazon

MORE: 9 powerful shows and documentaries about racial injustice that are essential viewing

the colour purple

The Colour Purple - Alice Walker

Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of Celie, a young black girl born in the deep south of America into a life of poverty and segregation. Focusing on the social injustices that black women faced at that time, the novel follows Celie's life as she suffers immense pain before she meets Shug - a blues singer who changes her life and destiny.

The Colour Purple, £5.99, Amazon

MORE: 7 films about racial injustice that are must-watches

about race

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

This is an essential handbook for anyone wanting to learn and understand about race relations in Britain and more. Reni Eddo-Lodge first wrote a piece on her blog with the same title that eventually lead to the book and sparked a national conversation. A must-read.

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, £6.99, Amazon

Keep clicking for more photos...!

caged bird sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is often considered one of the great voices of civil rights and racial injustice. This debut memoir is one of six detailing Maya's life as a black woman in America's south. Growing up in the 1930s, Maya saw and experienced prejudice and injustice in many ways. On the book, Maya, who died in 2014, said: "I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again."

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, £7.99, Amazon


Brit(ish) – Afua Hirsch

Afua Hirsch's book is a personal exploration of how Britain is in denial about its imperial history that exists in the form of racism today. It reveals the uncomfortable truth about race and identity in modern day society that is vital to learn about.

Brit(ish), Amazon


Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala

Rapper and author Akala takes his own experiences of racism throughout his life and opens the conversation to look at the wider social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. The book explores everything from the police, education, identity politics and the history of the British racialised empire – a history lesson everybody needs.

Natives, £7.99, Amazon

white fragility

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin Diangelo

This book explores the defensive reactions and counterproductive arguments that many white people have when discussing racial injustice and seeks to unpick why this occurs. The sociological phenomenon of "White Fragility" is unpicked and examined to explore how society can move on and away from it.

White Fragility, £10.99, Amazon

bluest eye

The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison's heartbreaking novel tells the story of Pecola, an African-American girl who prays every night for the blue eyes of her white counterparts. The book explores issues on society's obsession with beauty and conformity while asking questions about race, class and gender.

The Bluest Eye, £6.32, Amazon

fire next time

The Fire Next Time - James Baldwin

James Baldwin's body of work is thought of one of the most crucial during the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-twentieth century and beyond. The Fire Next Time gives a powerful examination into his early life in Harlem, New York, as well as a disturbing window into the racial injustices faced by many.

The Fire Next Time, £6.99, Amazon

me and my

Me and My White Supremacy – Layla F Saad

An essential read for those wanting to understand why white privilege and supremacy exists in society and how to look inward at what one can do to try and unpick and dismantle the privilege and bias within themselves. 

Me and My White Supremacy, £12.99, Amazon


Autobiography of Malcom X – As Told to Alex Haley

Civil Rights activist Malcolm X completed his autobiography just before his murder in 1965. The story begins from his childhood and leads to the exploration of his fight for racial equality and rights in America and his conversion to Islam.

Autobiography of Malcom X, £8.53, Amazon

anti racist

How to Be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi

This book proves that it is not enough to be not-racist, we must be anti-racist. Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Centre, shows that everybody is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not and tells us his own moving story and how we can all be a force for good.

How to Be an Antiracist, £8.79, Amazon

eyes watching god

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

This novel tells the story of Janie, a black teen who is caught kissing a fellow teen before her grandmother whisks her off to marry an old man instead. This book is about a woman's journey to happiness, liberation from racial history, and African American women's fight for justice and equality.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, £6.99, Amazon


Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a powerful and eye-opening story about race, love and identity. Ifemelu leaves her native Nigeria and her lover Obinze and heads for America in the hope of starting a new life. There she discovers the weight of something she didn't notice in her own country: race. After 9/11, America will not allow Obinze to enter the country and their love and relationship are tested further.

Americanah, £7.49, Amazon

not your baby mother

I Am Not Your Baby Mother – Candice Brathwaite

Part memoir and part manifesto, Candice Brathwaite tells the story of her own experiences as a black mother in Britain. After starting a blog about her story, the book was born. It explores the hurdles she faced such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point from pregnancy to waving her children off to school.

I Am Not Your Baby Mother, £12.99, Amazon

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

This article contains affiliate links, which means HELLO! may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. More information.

More TV and Film

See more