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

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

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...

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Title:Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves
Author:Glory Edim
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Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves Reviews

  • Noelle

    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

    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 to the editor Glory Edim, girls and women today can relate to the characters created through all of their voices.

  • Joshunda Sanders

    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

    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 writers then becoming one in order to give back the nuanced gift that was passed along to me.

    It felt like it should be as easy and simple for me to write about a book I love so much and one in which so many different complex yet simple aspects of myself are represented and laid bare as it is for me to point out (or try) when something isn't quite working for me in a book or there's something amiss, but I found the opposite to be true here, like when I'm working on a novel or story and I'm too close to a character or a scene, there's too much recognition emotionally, so I can't actually logically figure out how to describe it with language. Some things demand to be felt first.

    So it was with the bibliomancy I found reading Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves. When I was reading it the first time, I remembered how I felt the day that Solange's album, A Seat at The Table came out. I was still working in government but in the last days and another weary black woman got on the elevator with me and -- totally out of character -- I leaned over to her and said, "You should listen to Solange, she'll help you feel better."

    If this anthology had/has a soundtrack, I know Solange is on it, singing, "this shit is for us."

    And by us, Glory means Black women. The specificity of that love is what I mean by bibliomancy, why I view this as a sacred text, for me. Why it is healing. Black women are always watched, policed, hunted, burdened. But we are rarely served, gifted, celebrated, lifted with joy, with recognition, with space that acknowledged that we are our own best thing, that we are more than shadows of the experiences of others who are more often deemed universal. But in this anthology, I recognized a small, sweet point, which is this: It is rare for us to cultivate exclusive space for the Sisterhood as it is called where others are not looking or eavesdropping or watching for things to appropriate or steal from us and call theirs. Reading and writing community, alongside real life events and activities, remain the sole acts of resistance to these demands from others that Black women give over even aspects of our inner, emotional, imaginative and mental lives to those who want everything about us positioned and turned toward their edification.

    Glory writes in the introduction that Maya Angelou and the other authors she encountered "have taught me that, as Black women, we define ourselves for ourselves. We are not looking for anyone else to give us validation; because we have each other...Instinctively, Black women writers have always had to take care of ourselves. Creating our own limitless boundaries, whether we explore taboos, stereotypes, the theoretical idea of love, or the literary canon itself. We are writing ourselves into spaces that neglect or ignore us. Headstrong. A necessary quality to withstand the losses and celebrate the victories."

    I could write much much more here, but I want to elaborate more on my own platform, which I'll do. Each writer -- from Veronica Chambers to Dhonielle Clayton, Tayari Jones to Jacqueline Woodson, N.K. Jemisin and Barbara Smith and Rebecca Walker and Jamia Wilson -- offers deep insight into their development as a reader, writer and creative. For many of them, this begins with titles and the first mirrors of themselves, of black girls or people seen in a positive light or any light at all; for some it was not necessarily representation but the way our foremothers like Toni Morrison offered us new information and language for being in relationship to ourselves and others, how Nikki Giovanni offered us poetry of joy, bell hooks & Alice Walker offered us feminism that had our whole selves in it, April Sinclair gave us space, finally, to explore sexuality outside of the confines of heterosexuality for Black girls and on and on.

    If you're reading this review, you're likely someone who loves and knows Glory Edim, and is part of the Well-Read Black Girl fan club anyway. But I recommend that you pass on this love to the other Black girls and women in your life who are not yet convinced of the quiet, steady healing power that resides in picking up just one of the books recommended here, reading just one essay at a time over the course of however long. It is a gift. It is the rare gift that is becoming less rare and will increasingly become less rare, as what Glory calls a continuation of our "literary inheritance" and legacy. It's existence and publication whispers to us, "You deserve your own story. Your own chapter. Your own book. Here. Come see. Then pass it on."

  • Michelle

    I remember the time my teacher placed a copy of

    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

    I remember the time my teacher placed a copy of

    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 the company of greatness. Her regal stature, her warmth and her strength encouraged me. I became a lifelong fan and follower of her life.

    As I got older other women of the diaspora joined my literary canon: J. California Cooper, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Sapphire . . .

    They all came into my life when I need them the most.

    In Glory Edim's much anticipated anthology,

    , 21 Black women writers were asked about their early experiences with literature. When did they first see themselves reflected back in the stories that they read? When did a protagonist beg of them to see more, feel more, be more? How did the absence of their experience - or inclusion in some cases - spur them on to write their own masterpieces? What role did their mentors and idols within the Black literary community play in their decision to become writers?

    Besides getting a glimpse into the birth of these authors' love of reading and writing, Edim has carefully selected and tucked between these pages recommended literary works by women of color.

    Special thanks goes out to NetGalley, Ballantine Books and Glory Edim for access to this wonderful work.

  • Trina

    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 (

    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 (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology).

    I enjoyed reading this collection tremendously. Edim provided a representation that spotlighted an inclusiveness that resounded to my core and made me shout out loud. I was so intrigued by the literary genius of the authors throughout this work that I have purchased a few of the complete works on this list and plan to purchase the rest as classics that I’ll read over and over again. They were just that good!

    I received an advanced review copy (ARC) of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

    From the Publisher/NetGalley.com

    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 remains with readers the rest of their lives—but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.

    Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay remind us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her book club–turned–online community Well-Read Black Girl, in this anthology Glory Edim has created a space in which black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world and ourselves.

  • Reading in Black & White

    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!!!

  • Stacie C

    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

    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 books I would always go back to. Even after years of reading Goosebumps, Fear Street and Stephen King. Even after imagining myself as Hermione in Harry Potter and well into my teenage years I would still find myself randomly grabbing those two books and reading the pages that influenced me so much when I was young. Reading this anthology brought me back to those books even though it’s been over a decade since I’ve read them. When I look back, those books are my anchors and I was lucky to be able to have those at such a young age.

    is a beautifully curated anthology. It reflects the vast differences that make up Black women’s experience with literature. From seeing representation at an early age, to discovering true representation later on in life, to questioning your view of society or sexuality or what it means to be a woman and Black. That’s what I love about this book. Not only is it filled with essays by woman I admire and respect but their vulnerability and honesty on the page is invigorating. The stories they chose to share, all inspired by a literary work or works that affected their lives, gives the reader an in depth look at their lived experiences. Each essay is beautifully written and so reflective on who they were while reading and how that has affected the woman they’ve become. So much growth within these pages.

    I really enjoyed this collection as a whole. I knew while reading that this is something I would want to adorn my shelves, something I would reflect on and read again in the future. It’s also a resource. Edim made a really smart decision by listing different types of books throughout this anthology. I will now have a curated list of books from different genres by Black women that I can read, which is something I hadn’t expected but was very glad to see. This anthology is something that I believe every well-read Black girl can relate to, because we’ve all had that moment when we’ve read a book that has changed us. It’s beautiful to read a book where other Black women are sharing their experiences as well. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.

    Thank you Netgalley for this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Andre

    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

    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 wearing. Well Read Black Girl was the printed tee shirt message. That has turned into a popular presence on social media, a book festival and now this wonderful work. Kudos to Glory. “The essays in the following pages remind us of the magnificence of literature; how it can provide us with a vision of ourselves, affirm our talents, and ultimately help us narrate our own stories.”

    In overseeing this work a common theme is representation. Many women comment here on the lack of representation they felt, even years before they had the language to express that lack, that’s why books are important. That became almost a mantra for me as I read through these story essays. Often after reading someone’s testimony, I would silently say to myself, that’s why books are important! Jamia Wilson writes, “Nikki gave me a sense of place that was grounded in my experience as a black child during a time when it felt like most of the books in my school library represented everyone else but me.” She is referring to poet Nikki Giovanni. Books have been an anchor for some, a mirror for others, a crystal ball for a few. In all stories, books matter, words comfort, inspire. And this essay collection insures the clarity of that message and it is one you’ll want to share with others and also frequently return to for its strong references, not only in the various narratives but for the many book recommendations sprinkled through out the text.

    This passage from Rebecca Walker, is representative of the entire book, “I still and will always believe that representation of all kinds is essential. My work—the memoirs, anthologies, novels, television pilots, magazine articles—is just one long attempt to make sure that people from different backgrounds are seen and heard, especially people who are in some practical way challenging the status quo, and offering different interpretations of what it means to be a human being right now.” It is absolutely necessary to compile these types of essays to keep spreading the transformative power of literature. A tremendous win for Glory Edim to have her name at the helm of this collection that will be bandied about for years to come. Thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for an advanced DRC. Book will drop Oct. 30, 2018.

  • Kathleen

    Netgalley Book #4

    After reading Well-Read Black Girl, I plan on visiting my library and reading all of these authors. A great anthology full of gifted female writers I am sad to say I have heard about but never read.

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for accepting my request to read your book. Netgalley has expanded my reading since joining and this is another book I enjoyed.

  • Twheat

    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!

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