8 Books About Black Nerds That Will Make You Feel Wonderfully Weird and Accepted

Black nerds everywhere, rejoice! These stories showcase just what it means to be uncool, a bit geeky, awkward, and unapologetically yourself.

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Three book covers in green, dark yellow, and bluish-purple are set against a background of colorful clouds. "Weird Black Girls: Stories" by Elwin Cotman. "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" by Issa Rae. "Cool. Awkward. Black" by Karen Strong.

Black people, as we say, are not a monolith. We have range. While we discuss many other prominent aspects of Black culture, there’s always that side of us that certainly loves to nerd out over anime and manga, gaming, and varying popular television shows. We, too, explore these worlds and get our lives doing so. We’re awkward and weird and love that we are.

We especially geek out over fantastical, horrifying, and darkly mystical novels that allow us to step into these worlds and imagine ourselves dwelling there. We’re fairies and elves, goblins and ghouls, werewolves and vampires, mighty kings and warriors pitting our magic, along with our swords, bows, and wands, against an enemy army. Not only do we read these novels we, write them. So here are eight books all about nerdy, awkward, and geeky people who just so happen to be Black.

1. Black Nerd Problems: Essays by William Evans and Omar Holmon

On the comicbook style cover, glasses and afro hair make up most of the cover. The top of the cover is in brick red. The bottom of the cover is in mustard yellow. The title is in large, yellow and black letters and a blue spikey text box. The authors' names sit against a green strip in white letters.

It started off as a website that quickly rose in popularity, and in 2021, Black Nerd Problems: Essays was published. Content-creators-turned-authors William Evans and Omar Holmon take their cultural criticisms and bring them to life in their collection of essays. From hilarious Game of Thrones recaps to poignant, introspective essays on using standup comedy as a coping mechanism for grief, Evans and Holmon’s collection adds a new perspective to the pop culture discussion among Black people, who talk about everything from X-men and Mario Kart to more sober topics like the death of Breonna Taylor. Get into this fun yet thoughtful collection brought to you by these Black nerds.

2. Cool. Awkward. Black. by Karen Strong

Four young students, three of which are dressed in school uniforms, while the one in the front is wearing glasses, a pink sweater and blue skirt, and an afro style ponytail, stand against a whimsical bluish-purple background. Books and spaceships float above their heads. The one in the foreground looks as if she's controlling the floating items. The title sits at the top in bolded light blue-white letters. The editor's name sits at the bottom in smaller white letters. Words in white border the cover.

Enter the geeky, nerdy realms, both real and imaginative, of this young adult anthology edited by award-winning author Karen Strong and written by many of today’s critically acclaimed Black authors. Here, you’ll find stories of a girl who’s sure UFOs are real, a misunderstood magician who has real powers, and a boy who believes he’s found his Prince Charming. This genre-ranging collection features Black characters in fantasy, historical, contemporary, sci-fi, and realistic narratives that seek to redefine the idea of being Black and geeky. Strong’s anthology is sure to set your imagination ablaze while also giving you a deeper exploration of the Black perspective.

3. Nerdcrush by Alisha Emrich

Shy 16-year-old Ramona is an artistic girl who loves cosplay. She’s got a bestie she’s known since they were babies, parents who love her, and a crush on her classmate, Caleb Wolfe. But her best friend moved away, and her parents don’t seem to truly understand her love of cosplay. Even more, she’s sure her crush has no idea who she is. So, when she needs a confidence booster, she turns to cosplay and her original character, Rel, leading her to kick up an email conversation with her crush.

A girl with an afro style hairdo is wearing glasses, a red button-up top and red plaid skirt. A young boy lies upside down on the other side of her wearing an orange top. Her arm lies near his head. His hand is holding the arm. They are both lying on a purple blanket. A sketchbook and sketched images lie on the blanket, too.

Through their talks, Ramona learns of Caleb’s wants, dreams, insecurities, and his own geeky obsessions, which makes Ramona fall harder for him. But Caleb’s falling hard for Rel. To complicate matters, the two have become friends in real life. Now, with a cosplay convention around the corner and the truth beginning to eat at her, Ramona must decide whether to reveal her true self or continue hiding behind Rel. Things couldn’t get any more complex in this geeky, sweet romance.

4. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

A Black woman wearing a white shirt, glasses, and short afro hair stands against a dark yellow background. The title sits above her head in large, red and green letters. The author's name sits below the woman in large, red letters. There are other words in different colors sitting on either side of the woman's head.

In 2016, actress and author Issa Rae brought us her unapologetically humorous collection on being an awkward Black girl. The creator of the award-winning internet sensation The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl regales us with personal anecdotes of love, friendship, and the workplace from the perspective of an introvert. Rae is both witty and self-deprecating as she moves through stories of cybersex, unwanted commentary on weight gain, natural hair, acceptance of self, and a host of other topics as she opens up and bares her awkwardness to the world.

5. The Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley

Bestselling author Walter Mosely presents a collection of 17 of his most powerful and introspective stories in The Awkward Blackman. Through stories featuring nerdy, awkward, and downright odd characters and their struggles, Mosely crafts tales that seek to dispel the stereotypes attached to Black men.

It's a dual-colored cover, half black at the top, and half gray at the bottom. the title is at the top in large, white letters. The author's name sits at the bottom in large, grayish-beige letters.

You’ll find narratives of a man grappling with insecurities over his weight gain and how it leads to illness and severe loneliness; a lonely man working in a mailroom and the consequences of stepping outside his comfort zone in an attempt to connect with others; and the chronicles of dealing with failed love, loss, and alcohol abuse. In each of these stories, Mosely gives a glimpse into the world of awkward Black men and the trials and tribulations they go through.

6. Weird Black Girls: Stories by Elwin Cotman

A gangly, oddly twisted tree with human legs stands in the foreground. A small ferret sits to the left of the tree.  The word "STORIES" sits under the ferret. The title sits at the top in black lettering. The author's name sits at the bottom in black lettering. Everything is set against a mint green background.

Elwin Cotman’s Weird Black Girls, coming out later this year, invites us into a world of fantasy, whimsy, and horror presented through seven vividly creative tales. Through these immersive stories, we find ourselves in a place ruled by a tree that punishes children, in a Mexican restaurant with two friends trying to navigate their tense friendship, and with a man experiencing the memories of his lover. All seven stories take readers on an adventure through the eyes of Black characters, exploring what it means to endure the human experience as their worlds twist and turn and bump up against the line between reality and imagination.

7. Single, Black, and Nerdy by Jet B. Black

A black man is in the foreground pushing up blindingly bright opaque shades onto his face. His profile is set against a bluish-black background. The title sits above the man's head. The author's name sits at the bottom.

Jet Black serves readers his self-deprecating accounting of how a shy, nerdy Black guy has trouble getting up the nerve to talk to girls in this first-person narrative. While he may have been involved in a number of “situationships,” Jet still has difficulty when it comes to talking up women. He’s seeking his soulmate, but due to his shyness, it’s quite possible he’s already missed her. Follow Black on his love-single-life journey that’s sure to give you a glimpse into his bizarre, offbeat, awkward world of dating.

Black Nerd Blue Box: The Wibbly Wobbly Memoirs of a Lonely Whovian by T. Aaron Cisco

A man in Black and white sits beside a small blue box resembling the Tardis from the British television show, Doctor Who. Beneath the image of the man and blue box is the title in large, black and blue letters. The author's name is in smaller black letters. Everything is set against a gray-white dual color background.

Award-winning author, producer, and musician T. Aaron Cisco knows that being a nerd is hard, and being Black is harder. But he finds his own way to navigate through both worlds. Cisco shows us how to deal with these and other issues through patience, perseverance, and a lifelong obsession with a popular British show about an alien time traveler and his blue box.

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Be sure to peruse our Diversifying Your TBR: Beautiful Black Voices in Literature bookshelf on Bookshop.org and find what piques your interest.