10 Book Instagram Accounts That Highlight Literature by Black Authors
Whatever your interests and passions, you are very likely to find a like-minded community of people who have carved out a space for themselves on the internet. One of the most beloved corners of the world wide web is the space dedicated to books on Instagram, fondly known as “bookstagram”. Here, avid readers and bookworms share what they are reading at any given time, provide reviews and insights for their followers and, significantly, highlight underrepresented writers and authors in the literary world.
Book enthusiasts on Instagram create reading challenges, share their stacks (that’s booked piled on top of each other) and their current of future reading lists to encourage others to discover various voices from the world of Black literature. Below are some of the best accounts to follow for a well-rounded and inspiring bookshelf.
A recent graduate student with hopes of being a writer, Iyana’s love for reading started in childhood, with the Junie B Jones series and Scholastic Book Fairs. New Yorker Iyana of @iyanagoestothelibrary believes that Black representation matters in every facet of life, including the books that she reads, which is why she seeks out works that tell stories of Black heroes, educators, romance, and coming of age. Because buying books can be an expensive endeavor, Iyana is an advocate for public libraries because of the vast choices and freedom they provide. Iyana’s book reviews span various genres including memoirs, young adult and Black classics such as Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin and Toni Morrison’s Sula.
Based in Dallas, Texas, Anna is a blogger and podcaster who highlights underrepresented voices in literature. Growing up in a predominantly white area, Anna was seldom exposed to literature with Black people, unless they were depicted as slaves. Until she discovered Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, a 1976 novel by Mildred D Taylor. Determined that her daughter would not face the same dearth of Black-centered literature, Anna decided to focus on texts reflecting the lived experiences of people of color, and started the Diverse Classics Bookclub and her @never_withouta_book account. Anna’s grid is a well-curated feed of must-read books across Black literature, from Edwidge Danticat to Gucci Mane.
A graduate student studying to be a librarian, Michigan-born Theodore is an avid reader who prioritizes works by people of color on his reading list. He stumbled upon librarianship due to his love of research and archiving. On his Instagram account @theoreads_, Theodore provides very thoughtful reviews and reflections of the books he reads, a mixture of new releases and old works by lesser-known authors.
Alexis Milton (@lexreads10)
Unusually for a “bookstagrammer”, Alexis Milton was not a reader while growing up. After being inspired (and distracted) by a visit to a local bookstore, she began to take reading seriously, and after noticing that only prominent Black authors were being highlighted, she began a mission to find unknown, un sung writers who have been mostly overlooked. With her Unsung Blacks project and @lexreads10, Milton has discovered writers such as 19th-century poet and novelist Katherine D Tillman and fiction writer Henry Dumas as well as African American anthologies.
Abena Maryann (@bookish.abena)
Based in Accra, Ghana, Abena Maryann reads and reviews books on her Instagram account @bookish.abena. She hosts a podcast, organizes literary events across the city and runs Ghana’s first online book hub, Booktique, which specializes in books by authors from across Africa. Abena is the creator of the #ReadGhanaianChallenge, where she encourages readers to celebrate Ghana’s rich history and culture through literature.
Cleo George (@cleoreads)
Describing herself as “introverted but willing to discuss books”, South African bibliophile Cleo George decided to cultivate her reading habit in 2020 online at @cleoreads__ and challenged herself to read 20 books during the year – she ended up reading 27. In 2021, she set herself the goal of reading more books by African authors, and shared the journey, featuring Little Suns by Zakes Mda and The Quiet Violence of Dreams by K Sello Duiker. Cleo provides very insightful and personal thoughts on the books she reads, and is not afraid to mention those she didn’t enjoy.
Ericka Marie (@_pagesandleaves)
The blog Pages and Leaves is run by book and plant lover Ericka Marie who combines her passion for reading and indoor gardening with her Instagram account @_pagesandleaves, with an aim of providing content through the lens of a young Black woman. A teacher by day, Ericka shares her weekly or monthly reads with her followers and provides detailed reviews when she’s done, usually with her annotated and scribbled notes along the margins. She takes her followers on the journey of curating her home library, which she affectionately calls her “sunroom”, as it is filled with her many plants, and where she is kept company by her American pitbull terrier Soleil while she reads.
Sarah Coquillat (@bookishandblack)
Helmed by Ivorian-born Sarah Coquillat, Bookish and Black is a community for readers who are looking to connect with fellow bookworms. A professed lifelong reader, Coquillat has grown her @bookishandblack account into a space where readers can talk about books, discover new ones and get to know each other. She’s made a point of elevating and sharing books by Black authors all year-long, not just during Black History Month.
Jamise Harper @diversespines
Curated by author Jamise Harper, @diversespines is dedicated to expanding awareness through diverse literature and highlighting books by Black women and women of color. With a focus on the voices that are underrepresented in the literary world, Harper creates themed book stacks and recommendations across genres such as classics, contemporary fiction, young adult and sci-fi to bring the works of writers from different cultural backgrounds to the fore.
Thembela and Avuya (@afro_mom_reads)
Many readers come to love books at a young age, from bedtime stories read by their parents to the first book they check out at the library. Cape Town-based Thembela started her account @afro_mom_reads to share her favorite books, including some recommendations for kid’s literature inspired by the books her four-year-old son Avuya reads. Thembela and Avuya share heartwarming, funny and colorfully illustrated books to keep toddlers engaged and learning, making a point to choose books depicting diverse characters that reflect the world around them.