Celebrating Juneteenth with These Must-Read Books

Juneteenth is right around the corner, and you know what that means—it’s time to celebrate freedom, history, and resilience with a side of BBQ and some soulful tunes.

While you’re setting up the grill and perfecting that potato salad recipe, let me hit you up with some must-read books that will make your Juneteenth celebration truly unforgettable. These reads are so good, that they might just distract you from Auntie’s off-key singing during the family karaoke session.

1. The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Alright, let’s dive in with a splash—literally. Hiram Walker’s got a power so cool, that even Marvel heroes are jealous. His journey from slavery to freedom is a wild ride filled with twists, turns, and a bit of magic. Perfect for those who like their history with a side of supernatural spice.

2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi

This book is like that one family reunion where you finally meet all those cousins you’ve heard about but never seen. Spanning 300 years and two continents, it follows the descendants of two half-sisters, each chapter a juicy family secret waiting to be spilled. You’ll need a family tree to keep up, but it’s worth it!

3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad

Forget everything you thought you knew about the Underground Railroad. Whitehead turns it into an actual railroad with trains and tunnels and everything. Follow Cora on a journey that’s part history lesson, part thrilling escape adventure. Warning: May cause spontaneous shouts of “Run, girl, run!”

4. On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

On Juneteenth

Okay, so technically this one’s not fiction, but hey, it’s Juneteenth! This collection of essays by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed is like having the smartest person at the cookout drop some serious knowledge. You’ll walk away knowing more than you ever thought possible about this important day.

5. Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred - Octavia Butler

Time travel? Check. A modern Black woman suddenly thrown back into the antebellum South? Double-check. This novel is a rollercoaster of emotions and a masterclass in storytelling. Plus, it’ll make you extra grateful for modern conveniences like, you know, not being enslaved.

6. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth Of Other Suns - Isabel Wilkerson

Another non-fiction gem because, let’s face it, real history can be more epic than fiction. This one’s about the Great Migration, and it reads like the best novel you’ve ever picked up. Wilkerson’s prose will sweep you off your feet faster than the Cupid Shuffle.

7. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half

This one’s like the plot of a soap opera but way deeper and more meaningful. It’s about twin sisters who choose completely different paths, with one passing as white. It’s juicy, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s perfect for those long, lazy summer afternoons.

8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Janie Crawford’s story is one for the ages. Her quest for identity and independence is both timeless and incredibly relevant. Plus, Hurston’s writing is so beautiful, that you’ll want to read passages out loud just to hear how they sound. Go on, impress your friends with your dramatic reading skills.

9. Beloved by Toni Morrison


If you haven’t read this classic yet, now’s the time. It’s haunting, it’s poetic, and it’s a little bit spooky. Perfect for those who like their historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural. Just maybe don’t read it right before bed, unless you like staying up all night thinking about ghosts.

10. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing - Jesmyn Ward

This book is like a family road trip where things go very, very wrong. It’s a powerful story about race, family, and the spirits that haunt us—literally and figuratively. Pack some tissues, because this one’s a tear-jerker.

So, there you have it! Ten must-read books to make your Juneteenth celebration as lit as possible. Whether you’re lounging in a hammock, chilling at a cookout, or hiding from that one relative who always wants to debate politics, these books will keep you company and keep you inspired.

Happy reading and happy Juneteenth, folks!

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