Reading List: 2020’s Most Critically Acclaimed Books

View a more detailed description of the 2020 list.
View a list of all the critically acclaimed titles on our list from 1940 to 2021.


  1. What A Woman’s Gotta Do by Evelyn Coleman
  2. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  3. Deacon King Kong by James McBride
  4. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
  5. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston
  6. The Willie Lynch Letter And the Making of A Slave by Willie Lynch
  7. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  8. B-More Careful by Shannon Holmes
  9. Black Gangster by Donald Goines
  10. It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan
  11. Bourbon Street by Leonce Gaiter
  12. The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  13. American Spy: A Novel by Lauren Wilkinson
  14. The Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley
  15. The Stolen Daughter by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  16. His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  17. Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay
  18. The Other Sister by Donna Hill
  19. Step Into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature by Kevin Powell
  20. On the Corner of Hope and Main: A Blessings Novel by Beverly Jenkins
  21. Here and Now by Kimberla Lawson Roby
  22. Telephone by Percival Everett
  23. The Missing American by Kwei Quartey
  24. Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham
  25. Black Bottom Saints by Alice Randall
  26. Voices of the Harlem Renaissance: Originally Published as The New Negro an Interpretation by Alain Locke and Introduction by Troy Johnson
  27. Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby
  28. Luster by Raven Leilani
  29. When No One Is Watching: A Thriller by Alyssa Cole


  1. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  2. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  3. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  4. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison
  5. Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream by Mychal Denzel Smith
  6. The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
  7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  8. My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers
  9. Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
  10. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall


  1. I Love My Haircut! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
  2. I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
  3. A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
  4. King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
  5. She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Katheryn Russell-Brown
  6. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
  7. Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  8. Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade
  9. Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe
  10. Class Act by Jerry Craft
  11. Different and the Same by Adijah & Atiya Brabham
  12. Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
  13. All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor
  14. Follow Your Dreams, Little One by Vashti Harrison
  15. A Black Woman Did That by Malaika Adero
  16. I Believe I Can by Grace Byers
  17. Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  18. Geese Are Never Swans by Eva Clark and Created by Kobe Bryant
  19. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  20. Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons
  21. African by Peter Tosh
  22. Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne
  23. Welcome to the Party by Gabrielle Union
  24. A Girl Like Me by Angela Johnson
  25. Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera
  26. Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes
  27. Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson


  1. Pale Colors in a Tall Field: Poems by Carl Phillips