Author Favorites | April Ryans’ Must Have Fiction & Non-Fiction Books

“If you’re looking for gift ideas this holiday, think of books by Black authors! MahoganyBooks helped me curate this amazing list of Children’s must have books! Take a read!” – April Ryan

April Ryan | Author Favorites: Holiday Edition: Adult Fiction & Nonfiction


The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The New York Times Magazine‘s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on that work, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.

This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction–and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.


In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

An arresting debut for anyone looking for insight into what it means to be a Black woman in the world.

Three Black women are linked in unexpected ways to the same influential white man in Stockholm as they build their new lives in the most open society run by the most private people.

Successful marketing executive Kemi Adeyemi is lured from the U.S. to Sweden by Jonny von Lundin, CEO of the nation’s largest marketing firm, to help fix a PR fiasco involving a racially tone-deaf campaign. A killer at work but a failure in love, Kemi’s move is a last-ditch effort to reclaim her social life.

A chance meeting with Jonny in business class en route to the U.S. propels former model-turned-flight-attendant Brittany-Rae Johnson into a life of wealth, luxury, and privilege–a life she’s not sure she wants–as the object of his unhealthy obsession.

And refugee Muna Saheed, who lost her entire family, finds a job cleaning the toilets at Jonny’s office as she works to establish her residency in Sweden and, more importantly, seeks connection and a place she can call home.

Told through the perspectives of each of the three women, In Every Mirror She’s Black is a fast-paced, richly nuanced yet accessible contemporary novel that touches on important social issues of racism, classism, fetishization, and tokenism, and what it means to be a Black woman navigating a white-dominated society.


Will by Will Smith

One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.

Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that will likely never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells it astonishingly well. But it’s only half the story.

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over.

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ckWill is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.


Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray

The remarkable story of J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.

In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white–her complexion is dark because she is African American.

The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to–for the protection of her family and her legacy–to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.


Feeding The Soul by Tabitha Brown

You are seen, you are loved, and you are heard!

Before Tabitha Brown was one of the most popular personalities in the world, sharing her delicious vegan home cooking and compassionate wisdom with millions of followers across social media, she was an aspiring actress who in 2016 began struggling with undiagnosed chronic autoimmune pain. Her condition made her believe she wouldn’t live to see forty–until she started listening to what her soul and her body truly needed. Now, in this life-changing book, Tabitha shares the wisdom she gained from her own journey, showing readers how to make a life for themselves that is rooted in nonjudgmental kindness and love, both for themselves and for others.

Tabitha grounds her lessons in stories about her own life, career, faith, and family in this funny, down-to-earth book, built around the catchphrases that her fans know and love, including:

Hello There!: Why hope, joy, and clarity are so very needed

That’s Your Business: Defining yourself, and being okay with that

Have the Most Amazing Day . . .: Choosing joy and living with intention

But Don’t Go Messin’ Up No One Else’s: Learning to walk in kindness even when the world doesn’t feel kind

Like So, Like That: Living life without measurement

Very Good: Living in peace and creating good from the bad

Rich with personal stories and inspirational quotes, and sprinkled with a few easy vegan recipes, Feeding the Soul is a book to share–and to return to when you want to feel seen, loved, and heard.


After The Rain by Alexandra Elle

In After the Rain, celebrated self-care storyteller Alexandra Elle delivers 15 lessons on how to overcome obstacles, build confidence, and cultivate abundance.

Part memoir and part guide, Elle shares stirring stories from her own remarkable journey from self-doubt to self-love.

This soulful collection is filled with illuminating reflections on loss, fear, bravery, healing, love, acceptance, and more.

• Readers follow along her journey as she transforms challenging experiences—a difficult childhood, painful romantic relationships, and single parenting as a young mom—into fuel for her career as a successful entrepreneur and author driven by purpose and pasion
• Filled with Elle’s signature candor and warmth
• Includes empowering affirmations and meditations for readers to practice in their own lives

After the Rain is a soulful guide to help you embrace all the beauty, love, and opportunity life has to offer.

• Presented in luminous package with a foil case and gold accents
• A beautiful gift for anyone on the path to self-discovery, and an uplifting reminder that there is always sunshine after the rain
• Perfect for the friend who loves meditating, self-care, journaling, or seeking personal transformation and empowerment
• Great for those who loved Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, 100 Days to Braveby Annie F. Downs, and anything written by Brené Brown, Rupi Kaur, Rachel Hollis, and Elizabeth Gilbert


The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less by Christine Platt

Forget the aesthetics of mainstream minimalism and discover a life of authenticity and intention with this practical guide to living with less…your way.

When Christine Platt set out on her journey to live with less, she never intended to become The Afrominimalist. She just wanted to tame the chaos in her closet! But after struggling with the austerity and whiteness of mainstream minimalism, Christine realized why minimalism often seems unattainable for so many: the emphasis on all-white, barren aesthetics distracts from the practice of living with intention. And so, she decided to do things her way by curating a life of less influenced by the African diaspora.

In The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less, Christine gets right to the heart of how childhood experiences and expectations manifest in adulthood, the delicate dance between needs and wants, and the complicated weight of familial and societal pressures. A far cry from Konmaried closets, capsule wardrobes, and conspicuous consumption, Christine’s brand of “living with less” is more than a decluttering regimen. Inspired by her personal journey, Christine presents a radical revisioning of minimalism, one that celebrates the importance of history and heritage, and gives you permission to make space for what really matters…your way.

Beautifully illustrated with original black-and-white prints and line drawings, The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less is a testament to the idea that anyone can be a minimalist and a warm invitation to a life curated with intention, perfect for readers of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists), Marie Kondo, Joshua Becker, and Courtney Carver.


White House Correspondent April Ryan has a unique vantage point as the only black female reporter covering urban issues from the White House – a position she has held since the Clinton era. Her position as a White House Correspondent has afforded her unusual insight into the racial sensitivities, issues, and attendant political struggles of our nation’s past presidents.  

April Ryan is the author of the award-winning book, The Presidency in Black and White, and At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White (December 2016), where she looks at race relations through the lessons and wisdom that mothers have given their children. Her latest book is Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.

About MahoganyBooks 220 Articles
MahoganyBooks is an online bookstore that believes in social entrepreneurship. We take a leadership role in the African American community promoting reading, writing, and cultural awareness as tools to improve communities as well as enrich the lives of motivated individuals.

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