Top Ten Books That Feature Characters of Color

top ten tuesday 9-26-17 blog header

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week features a different theme or prompt for which you come up with a list of ten books or ideas. This week’s theme is books that feature ______ characters, where you get to decide which type of characters you want to talk about. I actually only have nine titles this week because I wanted to include only books that I’ve read recently (within the past two years), that I really personally enjoyed, and that had main characters of color, not just love interests or secondary characters of color. So that leaves me recommending the following nine books:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi book cover

This book taught me so much and really made me think about things that I hadn’t thought about before. It starts off with two sisters in Ghana, one of whom is sold as a slave, and follows their family’s generations down to the present. It shows how the slave trade impacted Ghana and how Black people continue to face racism and oppression in the US today. It’s a really great read, although can be upsetting at times.

CW: racism (including slurs), slavery, rape, drug use

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

labyrinth lost by zoraida cordova book cover

This is a fantastic urban fantasy story about Latinx brujas, or witches. Alex accidentally banishes her family to Los Lagos and has to try and get them back. If world-building is your thing, then this book is a must-read.

Unfortunately, I read this before I started paying attention to CWs so I don’t have any written down nor do I remember any.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Queens of Geek has a couple of main characters, but one of them is a Chinese-Australian teenage girl. Charlie is also bisexual so bonus points for that, haha. I’ve raved about this book a lot, so I won’t say much more about it except that if you still haven’t read this, you need to change that ASAP.

CW: anxiety (including panic attacks), fatphobia (challenged in text), mentions of weight, biphobia (challenged in text), cheating

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas book cover

It would be a major oversight to list some of my favorite PoC-led books and not include THUG. I’m sure everyone has heard a hundred things about this book, so I won’t ramble too long about it. If somehow you haven’t heard of it, THUG is a book about a Black teenage girl who sees her childhood best friend get shot and killed by police. This is a really powerful story, but it also manages to be quite funny at times which was something I didn’t expect but loved. Seriously, read this book if you haven’t already!

CW: racism, violence, police brutality, child abuse (no on-page scenes)

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir book cover

Can you believe I only just read this book this year? I’m so glad I finally picked it up though because it is AMAZING. Laia is one of the main characters in this book and she’s brown, which becomes fantastically obvious when you see those new paperback editions of Ember and the sequel, A Torch Against the Night!

CW: sexual assault and harassment, violence, abuse (including towards children), death/murder, torture

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman book cover

This book finally released today!!! So now instead of just listening to me scream about how much I loved it, you can buy a copy and read it for yourself! The protagonist in Starfish, Kiko, is half-white and half-Japanese. This story is very much about her accepting herself as she is and learning that she can control her own life and make her own decisions. It’s such a fantastic story and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

CW: child abuse (sexual and emotional), racism, attempted suicide

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen book cover

Nyxia is a fairly recent release and one that I very highly recommend. If sci-fi and high-stakes competition are your kind of thing, I have a feeling you’ll love Nyxia. The main character, Emmett, is Black and the whole cast of characters is extremely racially diverse. It’s such a great story and will definitely have you on the edge of your seat!

CW: violence, torture

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon book cover

I can’t believe I almost forgot this book! This features two PoC: Natasha, who is Jamaican-American, and Daniel, who is Korean-American. If you don’t like insta-love, you probably won’t like this book, but otherwise, I think it’s a super cute romance that also manages to talk about some serious issues like racism and immigration. Definitely a very good book to read!!

CW: deportation, racism, DUI, use of “crazy” in a negative way, suicidality

Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn

Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn book cover

I really loved this book because not only does it talk about Kan feeling not American enough around her friends and not Thai enough around her family, but it’s also a compulsively readable book with tons of suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you’re looking for a good book with an Asian lead, this is a fantastic choice – and with Halloween around the corner, there’s no better time to read this creepy story!

CW: sexual harassment, racism, violence, bullying, child abuse, suicide, murder

Have you read any of these? Are there any others you’d add to the list?

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24 thoughts on “Top Ten Books That Feature Characters of Color

  1. Oh my stars, Homegoing was AMAZING. I adored it so much I bought it right after I finished my library copy. The Sun is Also A Star is also a favorite! I’ve been meaning to read Queen of Geeks for a long time, I need to get on that!

    Liked by 1 person

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