The best books on racism in the USA

Who am I?

I don’t know when I became aware of and bothered by racial inequality but looking back, I see touchstones that lighted my path even before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech stiffened my spine in middle school. I participated in sit-ins at lunch counters and sat in the back of buses. Even though I was a white kid in a predominately white school, it became personal to me. The injustice and unfairness of prejudice and discrimination was the antithesis of what I believed was the promise of America. In recent years, the quiet background noise of racial inequity has amplified to an ugly level. I recommend these books as a start to understanding and rectifying the current unacceptable situation.


I wrote...

Written in Blood

By Diane Fanning,

Book cover of Written in Blood

What is my book about?

An army brat-turned-marine, he saw combat in Vietnam, and returned a decorated soldier. An avid reader, his dreams of being an acclaimed novelist came true. His desire to find love was fulfilled when he married brilliant executive Kathleen Atwater, the first female student accepted at Duke University's School of Engineering. The Petersons seemed the ideal academic couple- well-respected, prosperous, and happy.

All that came crashing down in December of 2001, when Kathleen apparently fell to her death in their secluded home in an exclusive area of Durham, North Carolina. But blood-spattered evidence and a missing fireplace poker suggested calculated, cold-blooded murder. Her trusted husband stood accused. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Diane Fanning Why did I love this book?

This book about the great migration explodes the myth that African-Americans were greeted with open arms. It expanded my knowledge and understanding of institutional racism and deepened my empathy for the plight of people of color. Wilkerson used the stories of real people and their struggle to overcome discrimination to weave the complex tale that is the fabric of America. Well-written and a delightful read.

By Isabel Wilkerson,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Warmth of Other Suns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this beautifully written masterwork, the Pulitzer Prize–winnner and bestselling author of Caste chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official…


Book cover of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Diane Fanning Why did I love this book?

This book helped me understand the underlying problem of racism by comparing this country's barriers to the caste system in India. Although there were vast differences, there are many similarities between the two countries. Chief among them, the establishment's desire to keep those considered "less than" "in their place." Wilkerson provided a gut-check level of clarity to the definition of “white privilege.” An important and deeply moving read.

By Isabel Wilkerson,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Caste as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TIME NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR | #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Powerful and timely ... I cannot recommend it strongly enough" - Barack Obama

From one of America's most celebrated and insightful writers, the moving, eye-opening bestseller about what lies hidden under the surface of ordinary lives

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human…


Book cover of A Shot in the Moonlight: How a Freed Slave and a Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South

Diane Fanning Why did I love this book?

A riveting true story about a freed slave and a confederate soldier who fought for justice in the Jim Crow South. The freed slave became the first man to beat a lynch mob in court. His small blow to racism made him a hero but one few know. I cried at his setbacks and cheered for every small victory along the way. Once I started reading, I could not put it down.

By Ben Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Shot in the Moonlight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After moonrise on the cold night of January 21, 1897, a mob of twenty five white men gathered in a patch of woods near Big Road in southwestern Simpson County, Kentucky. Half carried rifles and shotguns, and a few tucked pistols in their pants. Their target? George Dinning, a freed slave who'd farmed peacefully in the area for 14 years, and had been wrongfully accused of stealing livestock from a neighboring farm. When the mob began firing through the doors and windows of Dinning's house, he fired back in self-defense, shooting and killing the son of a wealthy Kentucky family.…


Book cover of His Truth Is Marching on: John Lewis and the Power of Hope

Diane Fanning Why did I love this book?

An intimate and historically accurate portrait of an extraordinary civil rights icon. Meachem carefully recreates the struggles for equality in the life of John Lewis. The passing of Lewis to the close proximity of our loss of Elijah Cummings left a deep hole in my heart that was soothed by this masterful portrayal of a real American hero. An uplifting book that shines a bright light of hope for future improvement.

By John Meacham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked His Truth Is Marching on as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An intimate and revealing portrait of civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman John Lewis, linking his life to the painful quest for justice in America from the 1950s to the present—from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of America 

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND COSMOPOLITAN 

John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma, Alabama, and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, was a visionary and a man of faith. Drawing on decades of wide-ranging interviews with Lewis, Jon Meacham writes of…


Book cover of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Diane Fanning Why did I love this book?

Although fiction, this book skillfully portrays both the depression-era WPA Pack Librarians and the plight of the Blue Fugates of Kentucky. Not black but not white, these blue people found prejudice and discrimination everywhere.  And medical science was only beginning to understand the origins of their genetic abnormality. A fascinating look at a forgotten people and their struggles to belong in a cruel and judgmental society.

By Kim Michele Richardson,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
A LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
AN OKRA PICK
The bestselling historical fiction from Kim Michele Richardson, this is a novel following Cussy Mary, a packhorse librarian and her quest to bring books to the Appalachian community she loves, perfect for readers of Lee Smith and Lisa Wingate. The perfect addition to your next book club!
The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything-everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome's got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy's not only…


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Katie’s Gamble

By Kara O'Neal,

Book cover of Katie’s Gamble

Kara O'Neal Author Of The Princess's Knight

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Teacher Writer Hopeless romantic Optimistic human

Kara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Katie's Gamble is an unexpected, unique story about a young woman who's trying to support her younger siblings by keeping her family's confectionery shop open.

In order to do that, she has to take on her older brother, who's a notorious gambler in Louisiana. Additionally, she has to outsmart Rowdy Denton, her brother's hired gunslinger, who wants nothing more than to protect her and keep her from entering a dangerous gambling tournament.

Katie’s Gamble

By Kara O'Neal,

What is this book about?

Katie's Gamble is an unexpected, unique story about a young woman who's trying to support her younger siblings by keeping her family's confectionery shop open.

In order to do that, she has to take on her older brother, who's a notorious gambler in Louisiana. Additionally, she has to outsmart Rowdy Denton, her brother's hired gunslinger, who wants nothing more than to protect her and keep her from entering a dangerous gambling tournament.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Kentucky, miscarriages of justices, and the Great Migration?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Kentucky, miscarriages of justices, and the Great Migration.

Kentucky Explore 72 books about Kentucky
Miscarriages Of Justices Explore 14 books about miscarriages of justices
The Great Migration Explore 6 books about the Great Migration