Blog, Bookish Life

An Actual Hot Girl Summer Reading List

@MinaReadss on Twitter shared a tweet that resonated with many. White women are using “Hot Girl Summer,” as part of a title for reading lists, without mentioning nary a Black author on the list. “Hot Girl Summer” was created by Megan Thee Stallion


The tweet that inspired this blog post. 

Along with featuring Black authors on a Hot Girl Summer reading list, choosing Black authors from a wide breadth of genres is important. I think about Tananarive Due, Pearl Cleage, Nnedi Okorafor, Attica Locke, Robert Jones Jr., Kosovo Jackson, Saeed Jones, Tia Williams, George Johnson, along with more Black authors who create stunning work. 

Below are a few books featured. A range of emotions bond these stories. Make sure you stay hydrated, wear SPF, and choose a book from the list. 

  1. Half-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith

In Half-Blown Rose, betrayed by her husband Cillian’s revelations in his book, Vincent moves to Paris. A new relationship begins her voyage to know what is possible. Vincent also agrees to see Cillian at their son’s wedding, bringing more revelations. Vincent explores grief, desire, and declaration. There are also a plethora of playlists throughout the book. 

  1. Zyla & Kai by Kristina Forrest 

A story of discovering love, Zyla & Kai were thought to be broken up when they disappear together after a class trip in the Poconos. Zyla is cynical about love…until she meets Kai. Kai is a serial monogamist. They are high school seniors, moving in different directions yet connected by when they worked together at an amusement park. Told from the past and present, the story begs the question: why can’t they be together?

  1. Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia

Content warning: Murder, Abuse, Kidnapping 

Harlem Sunset is the second novel in a mystery series and set during the Harlem Renaissance, Louise Lloyd gets caught up in a murder while managing a speakeasy, the Dove. The story unfolds from her past with Nora, a woman she was kidnapped with. Rosa Maria, who is Louise’s girlfriend, is also the sister of Rafael, who owns the speakeasy. Rosa Maria wakes up covered in blood. Nora was murdered. Rosa Maria becomes the suspect. Louise fights to clear Rosa Maria’s name.   

I mean, the layers. You can also read my review.

  1. How To Love A Jamaican by Alexa Arthurs

How to Love a Jamaican is a short story collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. It explores the dichotomy of emotions (tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret). 

  1. Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

Content warning: Abortion, Miscarriage

In Dele Weds Destiny, three college friends reunite in Lagos after thirty years. Amidst the complications of their decades long friendship, and what brought them apart, their reunion shares the enduring bond of female friendship. 

  1. Wahala by Nikki May

In Wahala, three Anglo-Nigerian friends, Ronke, Simi, and Boo have their friendship rocked when glamorous Isobel enters the group. Isobel is eager to bring out the best in each woman, yet fissures arise in this modern telling of “friendship, ambition, culture, and betrayal.” 

  1. Sometimes I Trip On How Happy We Could Be by Nichole Perkins

Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be is a stunning essay collection in which Perkins reflects on the experiences that shaped her time, body, and joy. Perkins’ essay about loving the show Frasier resonated with me. You can read my book review for this title as well.

  1. Patriarcy Blues: Reflections on Manhood by Frederick T. Joseph

You more than likely have seen one of Frederick’s tweets on most social media. His way of bringing truth that wants to deny its existence resonates with many. Patriarchy Blues: Reflections on Manhood is his natural evolution.

What does it mean to be a man? Joseph shares critiques on what being a man means while also critiquing toxic masculinity and patriarchy. He shares his thoughts as a Black man, ripe with privileges and pitfalls. 

9. Red Lip Theology by Candice M. Benbow

In Red Lip Theology, Candice shares her experiences that promote “divine wholeness” and self-love for Black women and open understanding for non-Black allies. Candice is a theologian. She spoke at the California African American Museum in 2018. Her words profoundly shaped who I am as a Black woman of faith. Her perspective is sharply unique. She is a wonderful presence on Twitter.

10. Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas

Some compare Kings of B’more to FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. Whether or not that’s an accurate comparison is best left up to you. Harrison and Linus, Black queer best friends, explore their hometown, Baltimore, on their last day together and on the precipice of becoming high school juniors.  

11. Dawn by Octavia Butler

Much of Butler’s work is prescient. Dawn continues Butler’s visionary storytelling as part of a series. Lilith Iyapo wakes up from a centuries-long sleep, she is on the vast spaceship of the Oankali. She discovers that the Oankali are an alien race who saved humans hundreds of years ago, intervened to save humans from a dying Earth, and then put them into a deep sleep. Lilith is called to lead her people back to Earth. 

What books by Black authors would you add to this “Hot Girl Summer” reading list?

Ashley Paul is a traveler, runner, and baker. She is an Everlasting Bookworm and Culture Maven. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. She loves stories with social commentary, atmospheric writing, and compelling characters.


  1. Sally Mercedes

    Love this list! I’d add The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann, The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor, and Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola.

    1. Ashley

      These are great additions! Honey & Spice is on my holds list at the library

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