What Catherine Adel West Reads

Named one of our top books to diversify your #TBR pile as well as a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by Ms. Magazine, USA Today Book Riot, The Rumpus, Library Journal, PureWow, The Every Girl, Parade and more, Saving Ruby King is an unforgettable debut novel.

We asked author Catherine Adel West what she’s reading and these are her picks.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

“‘A Little Life is a heartbreaking, absorbing tale of brotherhood, love, loss, the secrets we keep and the events that shape us forever. Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB are at this point, living, breathing people to me. I think about this book at least once a day. And even though there are parts of the story that will rip out your soul and place it back piecemeal, Yanagihara never lets the reader forget how each of these men. though fallible, are no less worthy of our deepest respect and the author owed our everlasting admiration.”


Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

“Have you ever read a book that changes you? Kindred did that for me. It helped redefine how I moved in this world as a black woman by using the shared history and struggles of African-Americans. I mean the prose in and of itself is beautiful, but beyond that, Butler manages to delve into what it means emotionally, morally and spiritually to be enslaved and betrayed not only by your body, but bound to a collective past, that of your familial ancestors. The realistic depictions of slavery were so chilling and the emphasis using trauma and how it permeates not just personal but national history is a literary feat nothing short of astonishing. Reading the pages I was angry and sad and hopeful and each line elicited something different, pulled something different from me. Kindred takes my breath away.”


The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley

“I’ve never been a big reader of memoirs, but Andre had me at ‘Hello’. His honesty and bravery leap off the pages. The no holds barred account of what it means to be black in the fashion industry kept me turning the pages. Never did I feel there was any bitterness in the declaration of his experiences, only a simplistic and unapologetic tone to the book. Helping to redefine and reimagine an industry that has very clear boundaries and borders of beauty, and what it means to be beautiful, sometimes felt to me as if Andre was in a dark room trying to open every door and every window to let in sunlight and show others, ‘HEY! This type of body, this dark skin, the imperfection of the human form is what makes us gorgeous!’ It’s simply a transcendent exploration of what it is to become a trendsetter and most of all discover you are worthy of all that is good.”

*Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links. These picks are editorially selected, but if you purchase, She Reads may get something in return. This does not impact your purchase price. We are a participant in the Bookshop Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Bookshop.org while simultaneously supporting local bookstores.

She Reads Editors

The She Reads Editors are always scouting the best books for all your #TBR piles. We’re offering up our favorite books, from classics to debuts, bestselling to the next big thing. Read along with us on social, too!

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