The Color Purple

By Alice Walker,

Book cover of The Color Purple

Book description

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker's iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie…

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Why read it?

15 authors picked The Color Purple as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This novel is a soul-stirring journey of resilience and self-discovery.

Reminding us that loss of connection to a loved one shares many of the same aspects as death, The Color Purple is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, particularly in the face of adversity. Along the way, you’ll come to a deeper understanding of gendered violence, the healing power of sisterhood and the enduring nature of love.

I was absolutely blown away by the sheer intensity of the emotions shown in this book and how the author intricately portrayed each of the characters’ development.

Celie, Nettie, and Shug are works of art that are able to clearly display their feelings through action and thought. Through much of this book, I got very teary-eyed at how much the book moved me and I’m grateful to this author for evoking this from me.

From Sydney's list on LGBTQ that evoke emotions.

This book was one of the first depictions of LGBTQ+ relationships that I ever read, and its compelling characters make it always worth a revisit.

To summarize as briefly as I can, Celie Harris is a young woman who goes through a series of abusive relationships, losing contact with both her sister and her children as she endures psychological and sexual abuse from the men in her life.

Her life starts to change when she meets and falls for Shug Avery, a jazz singer, and Celie eventually discovers the truth about her sister’s whereabouts and reunites with her family. This…

What can I say? It’s amazing.

Told as a series of letters, first to God and then later to her long-lost sister Nettie, readers get to watch Celie (the protagonist) grow from a frightened abused teenager to a woman making her own decisions. I initially read this book at the insistence of my mother.

At first it was uncomfortable to read, both the format and the content, but when I got into the story, I was mesmerized. Alice Walker writes Celie from practically illiterate to fully literate and it shows in the letters Celie writes.

All of the awards this…

From Deborah's list on Black women by Black women.

As a teenager when I first read Walker’s novel, I felt a little embarrassed that the author would be sharing our culture’s secrets so easily.

All the things that were happening in Celie’s world, I had seen or heard about in my own home or community, and absolutely no one was speaking openly about those ugly truths. There seemed to be an unwritten rule that no one would. As I continued to read, the novel and other works by Walker, I felt even more assured that she and I had been living much the same existence. Her words seemed to be…

Somehow, I made it to the age of 43 before reading The Color Purple for the first time. I was surprised that it had not been required reading in any of my college-level English/Lit courses. I specifically sought The Color Purple out because it has a history of being banned at schools across the US, and decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. I found that The Color Purple is an important piece of American literature that boldly discusses not only inequities and abuse, but also resilience. The Color Purple will make you uncomfortable, and…

I read this Pulitzer Prize-winning book after watching the Academy Award-winning film and imagined this would be the single exception where a book could not possibly be more impactful than the 1985 film. I could not have been more wrong. Published in 1982 by American author Alice Walker, the novel also won the National Book award for fiction, yet I still was not prepared for the greatness of what I was about to read. The Color Purple is a gut-wrenching, and unflinching portrayal of the bigotry and abuse that black women suffered, especially in the south. The story follows Celie…

In the mid-1980s, as a more soulful voice was emerging in my writing, a friend gave me her copy of The Color Purple. Walker’s novel is about relationships and the struggles and triumphs of black women who loved deeply and continued to see beauty in their world even as they survived terrible abuses. I was drawn to Walker’s writing, the rhythm of Celie’s simple candid voice, and the unique way this novel delivered a powerful heartfelt story. Reading The Color Purple encouraged me to trust in my creative writing style. As my voice, my intuition, and my connection to…

From Anna's list on our human struggles and triumphs.

Celie’s letters to God in The Color Purple, and those to her sister Nettie, tell her story of abuse and exploitation, as well as her capacity for love and her gritty determination. The Color Purple is always cited as an important book, which of course it is, but it’s also an accessible, entertaining, and ultimately inspiring read. 

From Kerry's list on letters that change someone’s life.

The Color Purple, another of my all-time favorite books, is an unusual coming-of-age story in that it tells the life of one remarkable young person’s journey into maturity and self-possession far beyond her youth. Surviving the injustices and vicious circumstances of her young life as an impoverished Black girl in the rural south in the early 20th century, Celie discovers herself through forbidden love and the loves that others tried to steal from her.  

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