What I did during lockdown and my reading list by black authors

Covid-19 lockdown and books by black authors

In which I share my reflections on how Covid-19 lockdown did not live up to expectations and my reading list of books by black authors.

On 23 March 2020, New Zealand went into level 3 lockdown in preparation for going into level 4 lockdown two days later.

I went home.

Yesterday, on 8 June 2020, we finally made it down to zero active cases of Covid-19 in the country and the alert level dropped to level 1.

Between those times, I left the house twice–both times to drive to the shop around the block and not get out of the car. Today for the first time I went into the shop.

Other were people were there and I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

I guess lockdown is over (for now and hopefully permanently), so this seems like a good time to reflect on it.

The lockdown I hoped for

Like a lot of people, I had plans for my lockdown.

Exercise, meditation, writing, coffee, sunsets.

Or something like that.

The lockdown I had

Too much news.

What do you mean it’s night already? I haven’t finished reading the news and started doing anything yet.

In about the second week I got twitchy about being shut in. That lasted a few days, after which point I decided I never needed to see another person in real life again.

I did some writing, more after the first month when my brain finally started to work again.

I did some reading, again mostly after the first month.

Coffee happened.

Now I don’t want to go out into the world again. Do I have to?

The revolution came

I was starting to recover from my Covid-19 news obsession when George Floyd was killed by police. If I didn’t hang out on (writer) Twitter I might not have known. (Of course it made the news in New Zealand, but remember I was a recovering news addict.)

But once you know something you can’t un-know it, and when you see a country rise up to right something that’s so wrong, you can’t sit by, even if it’s not your country.

So I shut up and I listened and I read about race in US history and society. We don’t learn this in school. (What I knew before: Columbus says he discovered America, but actually people were already there. Jim Crow is not a bird. New Orleans: slavery, then a hurricane. There are fifty states. Maybe. What I know now: This, and systemic racism, especially against blacks.)

I signed petitions, donated, boosted black voices, and tried to be a good ally. And of course bought a pile of books by black authors, some in the sheer excitement of the moment.

Which brings me to my next point.

New books on my reading list

Welcome to another rant about a string of books I haven’t read yet. Yes, a lot of it’s about their covers.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
See? Isn’t it beautiful?

“The first in a gripping fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction—from debut author Roseanne A. Brown. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Renée Ahdieh, and Sabaa Tahir.”

I’m midway through this book now, and so far it’s been a great ride. Though I confess I half bought it because of the gorgeous cover.

Given by Nandi Taylor

Given by Nandi Taylor
I mean, it has a dragon.


The girl on the cover looks so kick-ass. And did I mention the dragon?

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
Such a beautiful cover. Would it be weird if I started wearing seaweed in my hair?

“Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water is the story for today’s readers ― a captivating modern fantasy about black mermaids, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism.”

It deals with real issues, but it’s a book about freaking black mermaids? How can you not want to read this?

Freedom Park by B. W. McKay

Freedom Park by B. W. McKay

Darnell Scott is the first black mayor of a Utah city, but he has a dark and dangerous secret that could destroy everything he has worked for.

Yes, I can read realistic books. Who doesn’t like dark, dangerous secrets?

Tavern by Deston Munden

Tavern by Deston J. Munden

An adult high fantasy book for fans of Elder Scrolls, with a motley crew of a dark elf assassin, a dragon pirate–

You can stop there. Dragon pirate is it.

Plus, the door is stunning.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
I would not mess with this girl.

“Trained at Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls in both weaponry and etiquette, Jane McKeene is poised for a successful career protecting the wealthy from the encroaching plague of walking dead. But when families begin to go missing, Jane uncovers a conspiracy that pits her against some powerful enemies. Sent far from home, Jane will need all her resourcefulness, wit and strength of character to survive.”

Black girls trained in “weaponry and etiquette” fighting zombies? Sign me up.

Plus the cover.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

They fall in love.

She dies.

He finds himself back at the start, with a chance to save her life.

Maybe he can change the past, but there will be consequences.

“One of the best love stories I’ve ever read.” —Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

DiAngelo is white, but that’s not the point.

I found this book via this New Yorker article. If you’re white (or half white like me, or not white but not black) and consider yourself not racist, please read it.

From the article:

“…the point of the book is that each white person believes herself the exception, one of very few souls magically exempt from a lifetime of racist conditioning.”

Yep, that sounds familiar.

Have you read any of these? What books by black authors do you recommend?

Do you want a reminder to read my new posts?

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

6 thoughts on “What I did during lockdown and my reading list by black authors”

  1. Sounds a lot like my lockdown, though we are still on a scaled down version. Though the cases continue to grow…

    I live in the US. There’s so much wrong here…

  2. My lockdown wasn’t quite as severe as yours, but yeah,I don’t want to be anywhere near more than two people at a time … for the foreseeable future.
    … will check out a few of those books that caught my attention. 🙂

    1. I’ve got quite used to people being 2-dimensional and mutable at the click of a mouse. Reverting to the old way seems like a step backwards.

  3. Thank you for curating a list, all of which I want to read (and yes, gaze at many of the covers). I wish the end of the US lockdown seemed even marginally as rational as yours, but then what in the US does these days? Sigh . . .

    1. We can gaze at the beautiful covers together! 🙂

      To be fair, the US is geographically much more difficult to protect from Covid-19 than NZ, but your policy response has been…

      *searches for the right word*

      *doesn’t find it*

      *quietly exits*

Comments are closed.