Add these brilliant books on black hair to your TBR pile
Maxed out on your pandemic reading material? Here are our recommended picks on the beauty and politics surrounding Afro hair.
The world is finally recognising black women’s hair in all its complexity and beauty. The shift is apparent from the extended shelf space for curly-haired products in high street stores to a move away from the perception that afro styles are ‘unprofessional’. The change in conversation has been aided by prominent women in the media, such as political powerhouses Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris, who have familiarised, popularised and championed the versatility of afro hair with the wider world.
Here are our favourite must-read books that are helping to spread the word about afro hair and all its glory...
Don't Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri, £9.99 (Allen Lane)
Described as ‘groundbreaking’ by The Guardian, Irish-Nigerian author Emma Dabiri taps into the conversations swirling around right now about the politics of black hair. You’re sure to #hardrelate to the experiences of the author herself and - like us - find yourself bookmarking your favourite pages. Expect an investigation into the impact of colonialism and the way black people have been conditioned to think about their own hair. Essential reading for all.
Good Hair: The Essential Guide To Afro, Textured And Curly Hair by Charlotte Mensah, £14.99 (Penguin)
Where would we be without Charlotte Mensah? The first black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame, she’s ploughed her hairdressing knowledge and personal story into this insightful book. It includes intimate autobiographical sections while there’s plenty of tips in here too – from her personal views on co-washing (don’t do it) to a step-by-step guide on traditional bantu knots. Charlotte has it all covered.
Tenderheaded: A Comb-Bending Collection Of Hair Stories Edited by Pamela Johnson & Juliette Harris, £14.99 (Washington Square Press)
This book is like the Wikipedia of black women’s hair – from essays, poems and stories on its cultural importance and historical significance to quotes, arts and photos. We love the touching letter from A’Lelia Perry Bundles to her greatgrandmother, the self-made haircare pioneer Madam C.J. Walker, who was brought to screen by Octavia Spencer in last year’s riveting Netflix series, Self-Made.
Textures: The History And Art Of Black Hair by Kent State University, £39.95 (Hirmer Verlag)
A book that wouldn’t look out of place on the most stylish of coffee tables, Textures weaves academia and art into one beautiful tome. It stretches back to look at the ‘hair-story’ of people of African descent and talks to today’s leading activists and cultural stars, such as artist Sonya Clark, about their perceptions and experiences. Let’s not forget how visually stunning this book is too - it’s definitely worthy of taking pride of place on your shelves.
For the kids
Must-have books for early readers that celebrate self-love and the beauty of black hair.