Since her cult lo-fi web series Awkward Black Girl premiered on Youtube in 2011, Issa Rae has built an empire on being one of comedy’s freshest, most enticing voices. In her hit HBO series Insecure – which concluded its sensational 5-season run last month – Rae took her talent to the next level, centering Black stories with a nuance and candor rarely seen in mainstream media.

Her 2015 memoir, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, offers a collection of humorous essays further diving into her experiences navigating race, class, love, friendship, and work as an unabashed introvert. Rae’s Masterclass on creating outside the lines provides an even deeper look at her trademark humor, voice, and DIY ethos.

An avid reader and advocate for Black lit, Rae has shared some of the books she’s found solace and inspiration in on Instagram and in interviews over the years. From Mindy Kaling to Michael Crichton, find her recommended reads below.

Sugar by Bernice L. McFadden

“Her books make cameos throughout [Insecure] just because I love how her main protagonist is a dark-skinned black woman. You’ll see that there are two dark-skinned black leads in this show, something that hasn’t been done much as a comedic duo. She has a great voice and a way of telling stories that feels so raw, so real, and she uses a lot of research to make you feel like, ‘Oh, am I reading fiction or am I reading nonfiction?'” -IR

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

“It was the first time I read an autobiography and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I know this girl. I am this girl.'” -IR

Travels by Michael Crichton

 I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (also rec’d by David Bowie)

(via EW & Read It Forward)

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