Books can transport us someplace else—offering a much-needed respite from the rest of the world. They can teach us about other people’s joy, hurt, and life experiences, and in doing so, they ultimately change us and change how we view the world around us.
But James Baldwin said it best in a 1963 interview for LIFE magazine, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” While the power of reading is a given, there’s still much left to be desired when gatekeepers of the publishing industry and literary community don’t seem to believe in the power of letting BIPOC authors tell their own stories.
That’s where BIPOC creators in the Bookstagram community—a corner of Instagram that’s, on the surface, dedicated to reading and the love of books—come in. These bibliophiles elevate literature by Indigenous, LGBTQIA, Black, and Latinx authors when publishers and mainstream media looks the other way. And they do so year-round.
We’ve compiled a list of 15 Black Bookstagrammers you need to follow to figure out your next read. Get your book wish list handy, you’re going to need it.
Morgan (@readinginhergarden on Bookstagram) wrote on the social media platform that after the events surrounding the Black Lives Matter protests she “wanted to dedicate an account highlighting an often underrepresented community: black authors and black readers.” And since then, she’s been doing just that. Most recently, for Black History Month, Morgan decided to recreate some of her favorite portraits of Black authors including Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, and as seen above, Maya Angelou.
Ify, (@thelitagenda on Bookstagram), recently joined the bookish community in the summer of 2020. “I’m creating this to be more intentional and consistent about making time for things that matter to me,” she wrote in her first post. “This pandemic has really given me a chance to break free from my rigid work schedule, to slow down and meaningfully reflect on the importance and necessity of shaping a life that just feels good and authentic to me.” On her page, Ify shares her latest reads by BIPOC authors and some of her favorite quotes as well.
Lily Shewan (@lilyreads_ on Bookstagram) uses her platform to write thought-provoking reviews of her latest reads. From her first review on the platform of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to her latest reflections on Black American classics, you’re bound to always learn something new or look at literature in a different light thanks to Lily’s words.
Kelsey (@kelseyhj_reads on Bookstagram) started her account to “express and share what I been reading outside of my main IG acct and to be able to have conversations, engage and receive reading recommendations.” She also shared in December that in 2020, she didn’t read a single piece of literature written by a cisgender white man. As for her reading goals for 2021? Kelsey wrote, “What will be different next year is that I plan to read more male writers of color but still prioritizing queer, nonbinary, trans, Black Feminists, leftists, cis women-identified and femme writers of color.”
Alicia (@bolde_books on Bookstagram) shares a wide range of genres of books from fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, young adult, to children’s books. A mother and avid book reader, she seemingly shares her love of books and literature with her daughter and son.
Brea (@tellsoftales__) not only has one of the most aesthetically pleasing Bookstagram feeds but she also shares amazing reads. However, if you’re looking for sci-fi/fantasy or thriller reads, then Brea is your go-to.
Deanna (@deannareadsandsleeps) is a gem in the Bookstagram community. Besides sharing some of her current reads, Deanna also posts some of the most entertaining and hilarious Instagram Stories as she’s reading along. In her own words, “Reading is basically all I do, along with crying over anime/manga and Bucky Barnes, sleeping more than I should and living off of Lindt Salted Pretzel Chocolate bars and iced coffee.” Her favorite genres to read are also sci-fi/fantasy but ultimately, she says she’ll read anything that piques her interest.
Patricia (@trishreadsss) is a Dominican Afro-Latina based out of the Bronx, NYC. Like many other bookstagrammers, she began her account to be “part of a community that loved books as much as I do.” A quick scroll through her feed and you’ll come across a wide range of books by authors who are POC. One of her favorite genres? Historical fiction.
Katherine (@foreverabookseller) is a bookstagrammer based out of Portland, Oregon. If you’re curious about the meaning behind her Instagram name, Katherine shared in one of her posts that from June 2017 to March 2020, she worked as a bookseller for Powell’s Books in PDX. “This job was a dream for me, a writer and a wannabe librarian,” she wrote. Now, follow Katherine if you want to run into your next read.
Alexis (@lex_withthe_text) is a Texas-based Ph.D. student and avid reader sharing #OwnVoices book recommendations and reviews. And if you’ve ever seen the #BIPOCtober hashtag floating around Instagram/Bookstagram, it’s all thanks to her. “I read books by Black authors all year round,” she wrote in an Instagram caption. “My focus is to amplify the literary #OwnVoices of #BIPOC authors/writers.”
Sydney (@wereadus) is a delight to follow on Bookstagram and it’s safe to say she’s the queen of Instagram Reels. In her own words, she started her account to “read more and read widely.” Additionally, she shares she’s “mostly interested in reading and sharing about queer lit and books written by people of color.” Her favorite genre? Poetry!
Mikhaila (@mikhailareads) recently joined Bookstagram in 2020 and is based out in Orlando, Florida. According to her #MeetTheBookstagrammer post, her favorite genre is fiction and Black classics (but she can’t pick just one favorite book). She adds, “I couldn’t be happier with the friends I’ve met here, and convos I’ve had with you all.” Give her a follow and check out all the great reads she shares. Your #TBRpile will be better for it.
Alexia (@bookishends) created her Bookstagram account back in February of 2020 “after rediscovering her passion for reading.” She wrote in an Instagram post that she wants to “share the books that have shaped my perspective in some way or that I’ve just enjoyed.” Alexia enjoyed reading mainly YA, romance, and historical fiction, but she’s always open for recommendations in other genres. More than that, Alexia’s feed is one of the most unique as she recreates book covers through some amazing beauty and fashion looks.
AJ (@readingwithglamour) is constantly blessing fellow book lovers with great reads and thought-provoking reviews. As her bio reads, “Books are my love language, and reading fuels my soul.” AJ seemingly joined the bookstagram community back in May of 2020 and since then has shared her reading journey and current reads. From fiction reads, memoirs, to books centering BIPOC voices and histories, AJ is consistently highlighting literature written by the community, for the community.
Olivia (@itslivbee) joined the Bookstagram community back in November of 2019. “I made this bookstagram to connect with other readers and I’m so glad I did,” she wrote in her #MeetTheBookstgrammer post. “I love to read fiction written by Black folks and people of color. But I try to keep my eye on any good read. I also enjoy nonfiction, science fiction, dystopian, and fantasy. I’m slowly getting into mysteries and thrillers.