Suffering, suffering, and how would you like a slice of abjection on the side? When it comes to books by writers of color, sometimes it seems like we're only allowed to write serious, painful tomes. Reading lists of our most noteworthy books can feel like one After School Special after another — or, as librarian Ammie E. Harrison put it to me, a "trauma buffet."
We all need a bit of happiness cake from time to time. For that reason, I asked a bunch of people to recommend me their best beach reads by authors of color. They replied with romances such as The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole and A Summer for Scandal by Lydia San Andres, the young adult novels When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Complex series, the swashbuckling adventure of Isabel Allende's Zorro, and a novel literally set on a beach, Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor — among others.
I have a word limit here, so I have to keep the list short — only five beach books, all by authors of color. But those weren't my only criteria — I also picked relatively recent, easily available books, because there's nothing more frustrating than a list where half of the titles are harder to find than an authentic copy of The Necronomicon.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an award-winning author and editor. Her most recent novel is The Beautiful Ones. She tweets at @silviamg.