As a child, my Mom would often tell me that I needed to go to the store to buy some patience. Little did she know that, 1) no such thing existed, and 2) even if it did, there was no way that I would be able to sit still long enough to find out.

When it comes to reading books, my lack of patience is no exception. I usually prefer to have read a book before it’s been created. But over the years, I have found that what works best to help me patiently wait for the latest bestseller to become available is to check out some similar books in the meantime!

Brit Bennett’s sophomore novel, The Vanishing Half, has taken the world by storm. The world is already kind of storm-like, but even more so now, thanks to this incredible book. Yes, sadly, hold times can be long, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t read some amazing books while you silently fume.

Check out these books to keep busy while you wait:

We cast a shadow: a novel
by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

In a near-future Southern city, everyone is talking about a new, experimental medical procedure that boasts unprecedented success rates. In a society plagued by racism, segregation and private prisons, this operation saves lives with a controversial method—by turning people white.

Like any father, our unnamed narrator just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. But to afford Nigel’s “whiteness” operation, our narrator must make partner at his law firm. As one of the few black associates, he must jump through a series of increasingly absurd hoops—from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups—in a tragicomic quest to protect his son.

This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. In the tradition of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana.

Effia will be married off to an English colonial and live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. She’ll raise half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire.

Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon, and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.

Stretching from Ghana’s tribal wars to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration and the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi’s has written a modern masterpiece. This novel moves through histories and geographies and—with outstanding economy and force—captures the troubled spirit of our own nation.

A kind of freedom: a novel
by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War II. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society, and when she falls for no-account Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves.

In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Just as she comes to terms with him abandoning her, he returns, ready to resume their old life.

Jackie’s son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn’t survive the storm. Fresh out of a four-month stint for drug charges, T.C. decides to start over—until an old friend convinces him to stake his new beginning on one last deal.

For Evelyn, Jim Crow is an ongoing reality, and in its wake, new threats spring up to haunt her descendants. A Kind of Freedom is an urgent novel that explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through a poignant and redemptive family history.