9 Must-Read Books About Beyoncé, Music, Feminism, And Politics

by Kerri Jarema

Each month, the Bustle Book Club asks an author to recommend a book they think everyone should read. In April, Well-Read Black Girl founder Glory Edim recommended Queen Bey: A Celebration of the Power and Creativity of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter by Veronica Chambers. Follow along with the book club on Bustle and join the conversation on Goodreads.

Iconic multi-hyphenate Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is hard to define. On the one hand, she's a singer, known for her time spent in the all-girl band Destiny's Child. But she's also undeniably an artist, gifting fans visual albums like Lemonade and Everything is Love — a collaboration with husband Jay-Z — that have become pop culture touchstones. Beyoncé has provided influence on so many topics: motherhood, intersectional feminism, police brutality and other violence against the Black community, women in the workplace, and the true value of music and art in an ever-changing cultural landscape.

New York Times editor Veronica Chambers has assembled an all-star lineup of writers to talk about the legacy of Beyoncé in her new anthology, Queen Bey, Bustle's April Book Club pick. Once you've finished reading Veronica Chambers's book, you might want to pad your to-be-read pile with some more books about music and Black feminism. I've compiled nine books below that will give you just that: more thoughts on Beyoncé, Black women's influence on the cultural landscape, and women in pop music.

I'm not saying Beyoncé herself would have all of these on her shelf, but I'm pretty certain every Beyoncé fan should pick up one or two:

'The Meaning of Michelle' by Various Authors (Edited by Veronica Chambers)

If you're looking for another collection of writing about a black female icon, Chambers has you covered with her first anthology, all about former First Lady Michelle Obama.

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'On The Come Up' by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas's fictional take on the hurdles of breaking into the male-dominated music industry as a young woman will definitely appeal to fans of rebellious (and fiercely talented) musical women.

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'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Beyoncé famously sampled part of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED Talk on feminism for her 2013 single "Flawless." But if you haven't read the entire text, you're missing out.

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'Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism' by Omise'eke Tinsley

Omise'eke Tinsley, who used her undergraduate course "Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism" as the starting point for this book, writes about queer black feminism in relation to Queen Bey's music.

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'Thick: And Other Essays' by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Tressie McMillan Cottom's essay collection writes about self and society — including everything from Barack Obama to pumpkin spice lattes — in this essential essay collection.

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'Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets' by Feminista Jones

This treatise of Black women's transformative influence in media places them front and center in everything from modern mainstream resistance and political engagement, to culture, society and feminism.

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'Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman' by Anne Helen Petersen

Beyoncé has been called many "toos" in her time: too outspoken, too Black, too feminist. In this collection, Peterson looks at other famous women who have been called too much (from Serena Williams to Kim Kardashian West.)

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'There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé' by Morgan Parker

Morgan Parker's celebrated poetry collection uses Beyoncé and other pop culture references as a framework to explore 21st century Black American womanhood and its complexities.

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'Here She Comes Now: Women in Music Who Have Changed Our Lives' by Various Authors

If you want to read about more female artists like Beyoncé that have changed women's lives (including Patti Smith, Nina Simone, Mary J. Blige and Stevie Nicks) this essay collection is the perfect place to start.

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