Well-Read Black Girl

by Glory Edim

Hardcover, 2018





New York : Ballantine Books, [2018]


"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 on 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. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology). 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"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member BLBera
Well-Read Black Girl is a beautifully designed anthology with contributions from black women writers like Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, Nicole Denns-Benn and N. K. Jemisin. Some write about influential works, some write about writing, and some write about the experience of being a black woman. The thought-provoking essays cover a common theme; many discuss feeling invisible or noting an absence of people like them in their reading. Ward loved reading as a kid, but notes, "I read voraciously for years, searching for a girl like me but more than me. But I never found the book that allowed me entry, granted me succor in story, and a home after the last page until I wrote my own."
These essays certainly give me a lot to consider, especially as I choose materials for my classes.

The anthology can also serve as an introduction to those who are not familiar with black women writers. The essays and the lists of works give readers a place to start. I was pleased to see I had read many of the works listed, but there were many more unknown to me. I certainly have some reading ahead.

The graphics and the line portraits are pleasing and make this a book I will keep on my shelves.
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LibraryThing member arlenadean
Title: Well Read Black Girl Finding Our Series, Discovering Ourselves
Author: Glory Edim
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five

"Well Read Black Girl Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves" by Glory Edim

My Thoughts...

If you love reading as I do you will find this read a very interesting one and if you are black it will even mean so much more. I loved all that this author brought out in this 'inspiring collection of
essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well Read Black Girl.' These are anthologies of essays by some black amazing women writers featuring: "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)." These stories were right there where it will capture your heart being such touching inspirational reads that really made me feel like I was coming home. I wasn't able to pick out my favorite because I seemed to enjoy them all. With books being so important we also can see why the storytelling and representation are so very important too in its delivery where we are given the 'diversity of voices its organization of essays along with its strong message making it all so very memorable and powerful. This is definitely one read that I would recommend to all girls and women alike [especially of color] where one can possible find a little bit of themselves in these stories.
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LibraryThing member justagirlwithabook
Well-Read Black Girl is a small book, but don't be misled! It's filled with beautiful selections from Black female authors that have played an important role in Black women's lives (especially in the author Glory Edim's life) and who are responsible for laying the groundwork for a cultural shift in literature that we're beginning to see today. While I am not a Black woman, I seek to read more literature from Black women and those with different personal experiences than my own, and though we are different, there are endless lessons to be learned from the stories told in this book, no matter who the reader is. I'm grateful for Glory to share her story with her readers, and Ballantine Books to provide an advanced copy to read!… (more)
LibraryThing member m.belljackson
WELL-READ BLACK GIRL offers a unique approach to sharing outstanding African American literature written by women.
Influential books open with new and inspiring messages of hope, love, determination, courage, and respect for open-minded readers of every race, ethnicity, and gender.

This will be a new classic for High School and College classes, propelling semesters of discussion and comparative reading and writing!… (more)
LibraryThing member Hccpsk
Glory Edim began Well Read Black Girl as an online book club in 2015 and has turned it into a literary movement, hashtag, festival, and now a book. Well Read Black Girl is a collection of essays from women of color that revolves around the question of when they first saw themselves in literature, but the narratives go much deeper. Among the contributors are Tayari Jones, Jesmyn Ward, and Gabourey Sidibe discussing what it means to be a woman of color, feminist, reader, activist, and more. I really liked how she divided the book into sections (Classics, Sci-Fi, Feminism, etc.) with book suggestions for each genre. The essays were all very insightful, thought-provoking and the perfect length for me. I recommend this book for anyone wishing to broaden their scope of understanding as well as their reading lists.… (more)
LibraryThing member mabroms
Books about books, by writers, by Women writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays, by Women of Color. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
I was first introduced to Glory Edim and Well-Read Black Girl in 2015. She doesn’t know this, but she so inspired me that I vowed to only read literature by Women of Color for the next 18 months. I read a lot. It was, and will always be, the most profound reading experience I will ever have. Glory was my guide to start the journey.
Thank you Ballantine Books and LibraryThing. I now know more of the personal stories of 20+ contemporary Black Women, how they came to find themselves in literature, how hard it was, still is, and why it is so essential to keep up the fight.
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LibraryThing member EBT1002
This is a delightful and poignant collection of essays by Black women writers about their experience of reading. The essays vary in terms of personal detail but each one documents the role of reading in providing the reader with a mirror, with empowering the reader to find her own voice, believe in her own story, and take the risk to create written worlds of her own. The essays include explorations of culture, creativity, family and community -- and how each of these weaves into a person's consciousness and determination to write. And the lists! If you're one who keeps lists of books you want to read or reread, this little volume is for you. Oh, and the art is lovely, creating a sweet combination of book as physical object and book as thought-provoking content.… (more)
LibraryThing member CarolynSchroeder
This is a wonderful batch of very diverse essays (and an equally wonderful introduction) by women of color, both celebrating the joy of reading; and the joy of writing. When I first began the book, I thought I was well outside the desired demographic, but quickly changed my mind and realized the intent was expansive and inclusive, thereby introducing anyone to little-known women writers. Writing remains such a white-male dominated world, but books like this help change that and give everyone a voice. I now have a long list of writers I want to try!… (more)
LibraryThing member bluepigeon
Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves is an anthology of essays by black writers, journalists, and activists about being readers, lovers of books, and finding themselves in literature that inspired their lives.

The anthology is more about these women's experiences as readers or young readers, or it takes this as the main starting point for each story. Inevitably, this made me think about my own reading experience while I was reading this book. Reading this anthology as a white woman, an immigrant, a non-American, a scientist, and a queer person is a strange experience. On the one hand, the book feels special, special for those who are not me in many ways, but particularly in their skin color. In this particular way, not being a part of the world so intricately described by these women, perhaps I experienced reading as an outsider, the way many of these women describe reading white literature, where they were not included or represented in any real way (the very big difference being that I, my white self, do not lack representation in literature, but this brings me to the next point:) On the other hand, the book offers many ways in which the contributors are/were just like me: not fitting clothes meant for "normal" girls, having crushes on boys and girls, not being able to afford things others around you or at school might easily afford, feeling a kind of rage against those who have told and retold the myth that your kind is inferior to theirs, being a girl who wants to become a scientist (and not a mother or someone's wife)... In the end, good writing is about life, and there's always something that's not like us and something that's like us in it, capturing our uniqueness and our commonalities seemingly in one sweep.

Why did I read this book? To understand, is the first answer that comes naturally. Though it is impossible for me to ever truly understand how it feels to be a black woman now, let alone in the '50s or before, or to be a black girl growing up, I can come to a sort of understanding by way of extrapolations from my own life as a woman, an immigrant, a queer. This understanding is a misshapen, poorly examined thing that doesn't make too much sense, granted, but it's still a part of me that I will keep, in support, and hopefully, for further understanding.

Recommended for those who like to read about women reading lots and lots.

Thanks to LibraryThing and the publisher for a free copy of this book for my review. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will be thinking about it for a long while.
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
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 primarily for "girls," the focus is somewhat feminist. I have read some of the titles. While not all the remaining ones appeal to me, I would like to read several of the classic novels, books about girlhood/friendship, and a few more poetry volumes. I received an advance uncorrected proof by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.… (more)
LibraryThing member SiriJR
This small volume is packed with passion. A breadth of women reflect on pivotal moments that shaped them as black writers and readers. A testament to the importance of representation in media, these essays speak to the transformative potential of seeing oneself, one's family, one's culture, reflected in literature from an early age. I am deeply grateful for both the short reading lists and the longer one towards the end of the book.… (more)
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
I am not a Black girl, nor am I a girl anymore. So. So what am I doing requesting to read and review Edim's anthology, Well-Read Black Girl? I'll tell you why. As a librarian, I want to be prepared for anyone of any color, of any age, of any self-identified gender, anyone at all to ask me for a book recommendation. Librarians, take note: Edim puts together a well-crafted and thoughtful list of books to read. Like Nancy Pearl in her Lust books, Edim compiles recommendations for all types of reading: genres like classics, fantasy, science fiction, plays and poetry; or themes like feminism, childhood, and friendship. There is a book for that. And that. That, too. Despite the wealth of information in Edim's various lists I actually loved the essays even more. Women with varying careers and backgrounds and life experiences weigh in on what book meant the most to her or had a lasting impact while growing up. You hear from not just authors, journalists and playwrights but an activist, an actress, a producer; people outside the realm of putting pen to paper. It is a joy they share their thoughts with eloquence and grit. Their stories truly bring a deeper meaning to the books they mention. Their words make you want to go back and reread the stories with a different perspective.… (more)
LibraryThing member bostonian71
A small but thoughtful book about reading, writing and the importance of representation. Every essay is a mini-memoir, discussing each person's individual experiences of being seen (or unseen), both in literature and in the outside world, and in many cases paying homage to the books where they saw themselves reflected for the first time. There is pain and regret to be sure, but also nostalgia and delight and humor.

Least favorite piece: Bsrat Mezghebe's, mostly because her essay cites Roald Dahl as a major influence -- which doesn't quite fit with the theme of this anthology.

Favorite piece: N.K. Jemisin's, because her piece is funny and passionate and takes absolutely no prisoners.

The only downfall is that now my list of titles and authors to look into has gotten a lot longer!
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LibraryThing member streamsong
This is an outstanding collection of essays from successful black women including many black women authors. They reflect on the pain and isolation of growing up and not seeing themselves represented in books, films, television and real life models.

All of them express sheer joy of finding themselves in a variety of black writers and characters – whether it was a children's book with a black girl pretending to be a witch, or one of the very small but growing canon of well known and lesser known black authors.

I loved each and every essay. I'm neither black nor a girl, and yet my eyes are reopened to the importance of seeing oneself and one's experience in what you read.

The lists of books in this book will add immensely to my reading in the years to come.

A well-deserved 5 star read.
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LibraryThing member JaredOrlando
Well-Read Black Girl immediately feels like necessary reading. The perspectives from these curated essays speak volumes about the journey these writers, readers, and artistic types took to find themselves inside the medium they chose as their own.
LibraryThing member sweeks1980
“Well-Read Black Girl” packs a lot into a relatively small space, and the result is a book that seems deceptively simple at first glance. The text anthologizes 21 essays by and conversations with contemporary black female writers on the books that inspired and continue to inspire them. The contributors range from playwright Lynn Nottage to actress, writer, and director Gabourey Sidibe to young adult author and COO of We Need Diverse Books Dhonielle Clayton, and they books the women describe are as varied as their backgrounds and occupations. While some, such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved and The Bluest Eye, are well-known and perhaps expected, others, including Roald Dahl’s Boy, are surprising. The diversity of contributors and books discussed keeps the text engaging and lively, and it encourages the reader to consider not only the role of books in these women’s lives but also the importance that finding oneself in books holds for all readers, especially those who from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Interspersed with these essays are recommendations for books by and about black women in a variety of genres, including science fiction, poetry, and memoir. This feast of literary discussions and suggestions will leave readers adding to their book lists and pondering what books have shaped their own lives and perceptions.… (more)
LibraryThing member lycomayflower
This is an excellent collection of short essays by black American women, each discussing the first time they saw themselves in fiction. In addition to the experience of reading the essays themselves for the insight they provide, the collection as a whole is an indispensable set of recommendations for further reading, both within the essays and in the lists of books by black women included throughout. Recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member SandraBrower
This tiny book holds some big stories. Well-Read Black Girl is a compilation of stories gathered by Glory Edim founder of the Well-Read Black Girl book club. As a child, I learned about life from books, some of those covered in this powerful anthology. Even though I enjoyed all the life stories of each author I go back to the first story, Magic Mirrors by Jesmyn Ward. Her account of trying to see herself in the books she read can connect with any reader of any race or creed. Each story is relatable, diverse and variable genre rich. Reading Memoir always connects with me and these stories read like a personal memoir with each female writer even though it can be written in, as I said before variable genres. I was happy to read this during February while celebrating Black History month. Apropos and fulfilling as an appreciative reader of different cultures and views. Ms. Edim complied winning essays. I thank her for that.

Thank you to LibraryThing for the opportunity to read Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim in lieu of my honest review.
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LibraryThing member baskinginbooks
I received a copy of Well Read Black Girl from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. I have since purchased a copy. Glory Edim’s essay anthology, Well Read Black Girl, is guaranteed to be on my top favorites of 2019. Authors, playwrights, poets, artists, actors speak about when they first saw themselves represented as black women in books and how that went on to impact their lives. This essay anthology left me with a list of new texts to discover and with many wise words from familiar favorites. Most of all these essays remind me that the publishing industry needs to continue to do better and publish black women with the same vigor and breadth of genre as white folks.… (more)
LibraryThing member BookDivasReads
I've been trying to find something more to say than "I love this book" but that pretty much sums it up." The poem "won't you celebrate with me'' by Lucille Clifton followed by the introduction by Glory Edim are more than enough to get the reader (of any color or gender) in the right frame of mind for this anthology. The recommendations are on point and the essays are simply outstanding. I'm hopeful that Ms. Edim will be providing women of color more like this in the future.… (more)



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