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

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  543 ratings  ·  162 reviews
An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't co
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Ballantine Books
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I remember the time my teacher placed a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my hands. I identified strongly with young Maya. Through her walk a sense of power was infused in me. I felt that I could endure. Just the idea that a little brown girl's voice held that much power. I remember shortly after that Dr. Angelou came to visit my local library. She towered over the patrons yet she always managed to embrace everyone at their own level. Even at that young age I understood that I was in th ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love reading books about reading. It’s always inspiring to hear about what books loomed large in a person’s life. And it’s doubly exciting when those looking back are authors giving insight to the texts that spurred them to write their own stories. I also genuinely respect the way women are able to connect with one another in a way men can’t, (won’t?). It’s really something to see. I’m envious.

Glory Edim has created a phenomenon that started with conversations around a tee shirt she was wearin
Stacie C
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, e-book-arcs
I’ve always been a voracious reader. My mother used to read me bedtime stories at night and as soon as I learned how to read, more often than not you would find me with a book in my hands. There are two books that stand out that were an obvious reflection of me and my family: The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton and Pass It On: African American Poetry by Wade Hudson. Those two books had Black people on the covers, Black people on the pages and were about Black people. Those were the two boo ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this. I'm buying hardcopies for my daughter's.
Reading in Black & White
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book perfectly captures what it feels like to be a black girl that loves books and the difference they can make in your life...I can’t wait for everyone to experience this one!!!
Bree Hill
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those gems I’m grateful I picked up. This is a collection of black women sharing their stories of finding authors who inspired them to become writers and finding works where they finally saw characters who looked like them.

I loved reading these ladies’ stories. Highly recommend the audiobook if you can get your hands on it. Also throughout the book are recommendations so have a paper and pen handy.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.25 Stars

Seems appropriate that my first read of the year is #diversespines book of the month Well Read Black Girl by Glory Edim. I enjoyed this collection of essays that mirrored some of my own experiences growing up as a lover of books. I must say the two essays that stood out the most were Gabourey Sidibe’s “Gal: A Hard Row To Hoe” and N. K. Jemisin’s “Dreaming Awake.” They were both brutally honest and funny.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to #netgalley and #randomhousepublishing for giving me my first ARC, Well-Read Black Girl! This book is the epitome of why representation matters. Well-Read Black Girl is an anthology of essays by black women writers. All of the women represented in the book share a common love for reading at an early age, and the lack of representation in books with girls who look like them. Well-Read Black girl is very timely and necessary. Thanks to the wonderful women who contributed to this book and ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-tbr
"Reading for me was a vehicle for self-exploration when real life wasn't safe." -Dhonielle Clayton

Well-Read Black Girl is a fascinating collection of essays edited by Glory Edim, who created the Well-Read Black Girl community. These essays are by women from different walks of life who all adore reading. They talk about when they first found themselves in books, authors and books they connected with, and how reading changed their lives. If you are a book lover, your hear will be touched by hearin
Joshunda Sanders
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to re-read my galley again, which I took some time to do this weekend, before I wrote a review because I wanted to remember and savor all of the goodness of this anthology, which for Black women & girl readers is replete with testimony and witness, healing and recognition, a booklist to last you for a good long while and more than that, even. More maybe than I can express here, so I'll write more certainly as someone who has her own story of a life shaped by finding Black women writ ...more
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Reading about what books sime of my favorite authors enjoyed or what books inspired them was fascinating. I felt like I was chatting with each author over a drink while they talked about their love of books and how the written word helped them deal with the obstacles they faced. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Initially, when I learned of this book I thought it was a gathering of fiction by some of today's most prolific African-American women writers. To my surprise, the book instead consisted of prolific women writers of color writing about the books that influenced them early in their careers and beyond. Although all of the essays were wonderful and include some of today's most touted writers including Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, and Jaqueline Woodson, a few stood out to me. Veronica Chambers story o ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn’t love this book more if I tried. The stories were honest, real, inspiring and completely captivating. Reading about how books played a pertinent role in each writers life was everything to me and I connected with these writers possibly more than I’ve ever connected with a writer before. I felt like I was getting a deep dig into their life-and I’m so grateful for that. Oh and the book list at the end-literally made my day! Excellent book-all the stars!
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Review to come.
Alexis Sims
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book good gave me all the feels !☺😊❤🤗 ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love reading books about reading. I especially enjoyed this one as it brought together stories from Some of our best black authors. It shines a light on the importance of hearing these voices regardeless of race, age or gender. The essays were creative and original. It was a treat to read some of my favorite authors like Tayari Jones, some I had not read in awhile such as Rebecca Walker and a few new names I’ll be sure and pick up!
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spectacular collection of well-written works by brilliant african-american female authors that has something for everyone no matter the race, religion, or gender. Glory Edim brilliantly brings together essays from writers: Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing); Tayari Jones (An American Marriage); Lynn Nottage (Sweat); Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn); Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face); Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing); Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish); and Barbara Smith ( ...more
Nicole O
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a much needed anthology of stories from prominent black women writers. Never before have I thought to ask myself when, how or why I fell in love with books, or when I first saw myself within the pages of a story or novel. This collection dives head first into these questions, with each essayist writing about the works and people that have influenced them the most in both their lives and their careers. I guarantee you will walk away from this book with an intimidating (in a good way) ...more
A book about reading books with essays written by Black female authors and how they found representation in literature. This anthology had been thinking about my reading life when I was younger and I wish I was exposed to more authors who looked like me and shared similar experiences of a Black girl coming of age in America. Instead I spent my time reading VC Andrews, Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike and Sweet Valley High.

The only thing wrong with this book is that I don’t know when I will have the
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a phenomenal essay collection - the range of voices included a complex discussion about the importance of representation in literature. The collection was also as a celebration of the talent and legacy of black women writers, and the passion within each essay really brought this collection to life. I also loved the suggested reading lists included throughout the book!
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 daw ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Editor Glory Edim shares authors' brief reflections on their literary influences, primarily in terms of books or their authors. These stories are broken up by short bibliographies of black-women-authored books fitting specific categories. The author's essays include white and black authors, both male and female. I wish Edim's lists included mysteries written by black authors, but it did not. A closing bibliography includes the titles mentioned throughout the book. Since the book is written prima ...more
Kaytee Cobb
Glory Edim of Well-Read Black Girl curates this collection of essays from Black writers, poets, and playwrights. They are mostly centered on the first and formative books for each of these women, the ones that first depicted relatable characters for her to look up to. The Black authors that came first and showed that Black characters can have depth and meaning and be something for a young Black Girl to aspire to, these are v the formative stories. Be prepared for your TBR list to explode with ti ...more
Emi Bevacqua
I'm Asian-American and I appreciate this anthology for its wealth of recommendations, its A-list roster of essay submitters, and the recognition of the awesome strength and power of global sisterhood. I loved reading about how Marita Golden's audience in Turkey so related to Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes were Watching God. Great book lists for readers of all ages, creatively crafted and excellently edited.
Dawn Wells
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great book about reading. This is different stories written by female black authors and being represented in literature.
Barbara Smith: "James Baldwin is a classic writer. When I saw I Am Not Your Negro, I was struck by the fact that Baldwin's ideas are as relevant and insightful today as the day he originally expressed them. Timelessness is a major characteristic of classic creations. Baldwin is a moral philosopher. His work does not merely describe and analyze oppression, but relentlessly asks the reader to examine their individual relationship to evil, to cruelty, to bigotry, and white supremacy, and whether th ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This essay collection defined, magnified and gratified what it means to be a well- read black girl with such exuberance. Each author found a unique way to express their love of books and how this has sculpted them as women, readers and writers. Allowing readers to remember and reflect on their own love story with books and how it evolved over time. Recapturing authors and stories such as V.C Andrews, Judy Blum, the Bernstein Bears and Sweet Valley brought back so many memories that has shaped my ...more
Katherine D. Morgan
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this and I cried. Growing up as a black woman in America, I haven’t always felt seen, especially in the white world of literature. I devoured these essays. Even if I didn’t fully bond with one, the message was clear and I discovered new books to read, some not even in my preferred genre (memoir, nonfiction, essays). Read this book. Buy your friend this book. Cherish this book. Seriously. You’re going to love it. Also the illustrations are gorgeous. You can’t miss that beautiful cover ❤ ...more
Martha Toll
Here’s my interview at The Millions of the wonderful Glory Edim aka Well Read Black Girl.
Rachel SV
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
These bite-sized reflections on reading by Black women made me stop and consider my own childhood relationship to words and how little attention I had to pay to finding books with characters who reflected me. So many beautifully written short essays here, and I know the lists of books of Black women will figure heavily in my readings this year.
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An Interview with Glory Edim, Founder of Well-Read Black Girl 1 1 Jan 13, 2019 06:08PM  
Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and digital platform that celebrates the uniqueness of Black literature and sisterhood. In fall 2017 she organized the first-ever Well-Read Black Girl Festival. She has worked as a creative strategist for over ten years at startups and cultural institutions, including The Webby Awards and the New York Foundation for the ...more
“This, while explaining to the white girls why my pressed hair could not get wet in Portland's rain, while debunking the stereotypes some of them had about people who lived there, the place that was my home, was emotionally exhausting.

I spent my adolescence feeling free, loved, and beautiful at home and suffocated, interrogated, and abnormal with these girls. I learned how to contort myself - physically and emotionally - in order to fit into the confined spaces available for me. Black girls could not be too confident, too loud, too smart. Fat girls could be cute but not beautiful, could be the funny sidekick or wise truth-teller in school plays, never leading role or love interest.

There was an internal tug-of-war with my self-esteem...

These poems healed every aching part of the seven-year-old girl in me. They were confirmation that my mother and all those women who ever told me I was worth something were right.

-- "Space to Move Around In" by Renee Watson”
“When people ask what I would tell my younger self, the budding writer at the beginning of her career, it is always the same: I wish I could have prepared myself for what happens to a writer when she is brutally honest, when she speaks truth to power in a raw and emotional way. The literary establishment continues to privilege work that’s just a touch removed, “refined” they would call it. Writers who tone down their anguish, their rage, their nontraditional, “deviant choices are perceived as more skilled, more worthy of critical acclaim. This often has a lot to do with racism and sexism, and the stories we are “allowed” to tell as people of color. The classification is not a new phenomenon nor is the marginalization of powerful autobiographical stories that demand engagement. I wish I had known all this, not because I would have done things differently, but because I would not have been so surprised by some of the dismissive responses to my work. I would have been more prepared.” 0 likes
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