For the non-poetry reader, finding ways to celebrate National Poetry Month can be hard. We’re making it easier for you to find your next favorite book while also celebrating the beautiful art of poetry!
After the death of her father, Layken moves away from sunny Texas to snow-ridden Michigan with her brother and mother. She immediately finds love in their neighbor, Will Cooper. Will introduces Layken to the wonderful world of slam poetry through an open mic night at a local club. Though their relationship gets more and more complicated, their love for poetry remains true through the book and its sequels.
Sixteen-year-old Bri dreams of becoming a rapper and ultimately making it out of her neighborhood. Before his death, her father was “an underground rap legend” leaving Bri with some big shoes to fill. The book is filled with fresh rhymes written by Angie Thomas herself, leaving readers inspired and with a renewed love of music.
Published after his death, the book chronicles the poetry Shakur wrote from the time he was a teenager. Each poem is filled with the most intimate of thoughts and emotions. These poems will speak to each of his fans and fill them with the Shakur’s spirit, energy, and hope for a better future.
Hopkins has a unique way of telling her story, using lines of poetry instead of prose to convey the narration. The book chronicles the disturbing relationship between Kristina and her monster. Kristina is inspired by Hopkins’ own daughter, while the monster is crystal meth or ‘crank’. Kristina is introduced to the drug after a visit with her father. Under the influence, she turns into her “sexy alter-ego ‘Bree’.” The book is sure to provoke an emotional response and inspire a love of poetry.
After her debut Speak, which touched upon the very serious effects of sexual assault, not much has changed. Shout is her response to the continued fight to end sexual assault. These poems are thought-provoking, personal anecdotes by Anderson. If Speak didn’t make you angry, Shout is sure to have you screaming. The book is filled with “reflections, rants, and calls to action” all written in free-verse to inspire the activist in you.
Do you have a favorite poetry book not found on this list? Let us know!
In celebration of Black History month, we’ve put together a list of amazing new books by acclaimed writers of color. These stories are incredibly diverse in genre, and explore everything from coming-of-age, to romance, to fantasy to the human condition.
This is the highly anticipated second novel by Angie Thomas, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning The Hate U Give.
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.
But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.
The new exhilarating romance from The New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal, a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick!
Maddie and Theo have two things in common:
1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?
But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
As Tracker follows the boy’s scent–from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers–he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that’s come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both.
A heart-breaking story about a Nigerian poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves, by Man Booker Finalist and author of The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma.
Set on the outskirts of Umuahia, Nigeria and narrated by a chi, or guardian spirit, AN ORCHESTRA OF MINORITIES tells the story of Chinonso, a young poultry farmer whose soul is ignited when he sees a woman attempting to jump from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his prized chickens into the water below to express the severity of such a fall. The woman, Ndali, is stopped her in her tracks.
Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family and struggles to imagine a future near a chicken coop. When her family objects to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells most of his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But when he arrives he discovers there is no place at the school for him, and that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements.. Penniless, homeless, and furious at a world which continues to relegate him to the sidelines, Chinonso gets further away from his dream, from Ndali and the farm he called home.
Spanning continents, traversing the earth and cosmic spaces, and told by a narrator who has lived for hundreds of years, the novel is a contemporary twist of Homer’s Odyssey. Written in the mythic style of the Igbo literary tradition, Chigozie Obioma weaves a heart-wrenching epic about destiny and determination.
The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and inventive novel.
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories, beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. The world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.
Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi’s inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.
In a thrillingly alive, candid new work, award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson takes us inside the drug-ravaged neighborhood and struggling family of his youth, while examining the cultural forces—large and small—that led him and his family to this place.
With a poet’s gifted ear, a novelist’s sense of narrative, and a journalist’s unsentimental eye, Mitchell S. Jackson candidly explores his tumultuous youth in the other America. Survival Math takes its name from the calculations Mitchell and his family made to keep safe—to stay alive—in their community, a small black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon blighted by drugs, violence, poverty, and governmental neglect.
Survival Math is both a personal reckoning and a vital addition to the national conversation about race. Mitchell explores the Portland of his childhood, tracing the ways in which his family managed their lives in and around drugs, prostitution, gangs, and imprisonment as members of a tiny black population in one of the country’s whitest cities. He discusses sex work and serial killers, gangs and guns, near-death experiences, composite fathers, the concept of “hustle,” and the destructive power of drugs and addiction on family.
In examining the conflicts within his family and community, Jackson presents a microcosm of struggle and survival in contemporary urban America—an exploration of the forces that shaped his life, his city, and the lives of so many black men like him. As Jackson charts his own path from drug dealer to published novelist, he gives us a heartbreaking, fascinating, lovingly rendered view of the injustices and victories, large and small, that defined his youth.
In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.
Around him, others live and thrive and die in Houston’s myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra.
Bryan Washington’s brilliant, viscerally drawn world vibrates with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot explores trust and love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.
Featured Image via LitReactor. All Images via Amazon.
It’s Valentine’s Day—now more than ever, we need a book to fall madly in love with. This week, we’ve got three reads that are sure to show you a good time. (If you’re in the middle of a less satisfying novel, consider a dalliance with one of these. We won’t tell.) Our picks this week are fun yet honest, ideal qualities for any date! While some of these are romance-oriented, let’s not forget that self-love and personal development counts for more than we sometimes remember. So, honestly, love yourself and give one of these a read. Without further ado, here are Bookstr’s Three to Read: the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week. Time to find your perfect match!
OUR HOT PICK
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.
Bookstr’s valentine is On the Come Upbecause we’ve fallen in love with #1 New York Times bestselling Angie Thomas, one of the most powerful voices in YA fiction today. Thomas expertly follows her breakout hit The Hate U Givewith this novel, a raw, insightful, and often funny depiction of coexisting ambition and poverty. Thomas strikes a masterful balance when discussing issues of racism and structural inequality, using her light and playful voice to approach topics few other YA authors have addressed in such detail. Her careful examination of social issues and deeply nuanced characters will appeal to old fans and snag new ones. Warm, earnest, and honest, On the Come Up is your perfect book date this V-day, and it’s sure to be a match.
OUR Coffee Shop Read
Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys – sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘it could be worse’.
He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.
But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.
As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…
Jack of Hearts and Other Partsis as unabashedly queer as its protagonist, including surprisingly frank and open discussions of sex. We’re talking better than sex-ed, complete with descriptions of different types of sex; advice on coming out; and even discussions of asexuality, an often misunderstood sexual orientation. L.C. Rosen is—excuse the pun—ballsy in his open portrayal of sex, drinking, smoking, and partying, boldly addressing facets of some teenagers’ lives that few authors cover in such detail. Readers will love this proud and confident gay protagonist, whose story is refreshingly fun and upbeat. Open, honest, and incredibly fun, this one’s hot enough to be your Valentine’s book date. Don’t drink too much coffee—you’ll want to bring this book to bed.
Our Dark Horse
In this one-of-a-kind retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan, Alys Binat has sworn never to marry—until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.
A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more.
When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful—and single—entrepreneur. But Bungles’s friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her and quickly dismisses him and his snobbish ways. As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal—and Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man from the one she saw at first glance.
Readers will fall madly in love with this modern update on a timeless classic. While Unmarriageableis delightful and romantic, it also doesn’t hesitate to address the double standards that women face in regards to romance, sex, and courtship. A rich depiction of Muslim culture, Soniah Kamal‘s novel glitters with beautiful language and imagery that would enchant any potential reader. It’s as fun as it is aware, expertly examining social stratification as it takes its readers on an entertaining, colorful romp. Kirkus Reviews called this release “a charming update to the original,” perfect for Austen fans and any reader looking for a perfect match.