100 books like Black Boy

By Richard Wright,

Here are 100 books that Black Boy fans have personally recommended if you like Black Boy. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Jane Eyre

Lynn Shurr Author Of Lady Flora's Rescue

From my list on historical novels picked by a librarian.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reference librarian, I love doing research for myself and others. By reading a well-written historical novel, we can learn about the past and compare and contrast it to our present. All but the last of my choices have strong female characters who must overcome the customs of their time. The struggle goes on today. Let these books remind you of how far we have come and how far we have to go.

Lynn's book list on historical novels picked by a librarian

Lynn Shurr Why did Lynn love this book?

When I was fifteen, I stayed up reading the end of this book under the covers with a flashlight because I could not put it down.

A scandalous bestseller in 1847, this was the first romance to feature an antihero. Mr. Rochester is far from pure and kind. He mocks Jane, who describes herself as small and plain and stands up to him. He has an immoral secret and when Jane learns of it, she leaves him. I doubt I would have.

By Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…


Book cover of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Jane De Suza Author Of When Impossible Happens

From my list on books to make you laugh when you’re trying to look serious.

Why am I passionate about this?

Out of all the flattering reviews of my books, my favourite is of a reader choking on her lunch. My book was about death. The reader, who survived, said it made her laugh so hard. I write about tough times by bringing out the it’s okay to smile now bits. The Midnight Years is about teen mental health, Happily Never After is about loneliness, and Flyaway Boy is about stereotyping. Making people laugh through tears is a tough task. Here are some books that cracked it.

Jane's book list on books to make you laugh when you’re trying to look serious

Jane De Suza Why did Jane love this book?

Fun home is what the author and her family call the funeral home they were raised in. I was drawn into this graphic memoir of the author’s relationship with her father, with disturbing themes of suicide, unaccepted gender identities, and domestic abuse.

The story manages to stay buoyant despite it all, and the observations are funny. The author’s ability to capture her most painful memories in bright light and intricate detail catapulted this read to the top for me. 

By Alison Bechdel,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Fun Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

DISCOVER the BESTSELLING GRAPHIC MEMOIR behind the Olivier Award nominated musical.

'A sapphic graphic treat' The Times

A moving and darkly humorous family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Alison Bechdel's gothic drawings. If you liked Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis you'll love this.

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high-school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and the family babysitter. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is…


Book cover of All Over But the Shoutin'

Mark Steven Porro Author Of A Cup of Tea on the Commode: My Multi-Tasking Adventures of Caring for Mom. And How I Survived to Tell the Tale

From my list on books that do not flinch when dealing with difficult circumstances.

Why am I passionate about this?

Family history has always fascinated me. I didn’t want mine to be buried with my loved ones. So, out of curiosity, I asked relatives lots of questions. If unsatisfied, I sought answers elsewhere. I traveled as far as Celle San Vito, Italy, where my grandfather was born, to solve a one-hundred-year-old mystery, and I filmed it for others to enjoy. I’ve memorialized momentous family events in poems, handmade greeting cards, memory books, screenplays, a documentary, and now, in my memoir A Cup of Tea on the Commode. The books on my list are about “family.” I’ve been moved by each, and I hope they move you as well.

Mark's book list on books that do not flinch when dealing with difficult circumstances

Mark Steven Porro Why did Mark love this book?

A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, Rick Bragg’s writing is poetry.

He grew up dirt poor in Alabama. I grew up in a middle-class suburb in New Jersey. He and I have little in common but our love for our mothers. This story touched me on many levels. All mothers sacrifice to some extent in raising their children, but Rick’s mother went above and beyond while facing dire circumstances to provide for hers.

It made me appreciate my mother even more. And though I hadn’t discovered this book prior to my story, it reconfirmed my commitment to my mother. 

By Rick Bragg,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked All Over But the Shoutin' as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the Pulitzer Prize–winner and bestselling author, "a grand memoir.... Bragg tells about the South with such power and bone-naked love ... he will make you cry" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The New York Times. It is also the story of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running…


Book cover of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Lynn Alsup Author Of Tinderbox: One Family's Story of Adoption, Neurodiversity, and Fierce Love

From my list on memoirs that crack open a brutal and beautiful world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young social worker, I left the world I knew and moved into violent urban centers and traveled the developing world. The suffering and beauty entranced me. Questions reverberated in me: What does it mean to be part of the vast human community? How can I live most fully? When I adopted children, violence and difference confronted me not “out there” but at home. I wrestled, shocked by my own judgment and narrowness—until I accepted in my bones the myriad ways to live a remarkable life. Curiosity became my superpower. Tinderbox, my unflinching memoir, invites readers into my family’s brutal and beautiful transformation through embracing neurodiversity. 

Lynn's book list on memoirs that crack open a brutal and beautiful world

Lynn Alsup Why did Lynn love this book?

Angelou’s words sat me in a comfy chair as if in a favorite movie theater as the lights dimmed.

The world unrolling before me enveloped me from the red dirt of Arkansas in the 1930s all the way to the California sun. Her prose read like poetry and led me into each space she inhabited, including the ones in her mind. She slowed down the moment and let me ponder—no sideways judgments or explanations.

Her experience of childhood sexual assault ripped through me as my own had. She didn’t shy away from the horrors or beauty of life as a young Black woman finding her place in the world but projected them onto the screen in my mind. They’ve lingered there a long time.

By Maya Angelou,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy,achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover.


Book cover of The Boys of My Youth

Deborah A. Lott Author Of Don't Go Crazy Without Me

From my list on impossible childhoods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer who’s always been obsessed with early childhood. No experience we have later in life is any more emotionally charged, resonant, intense, bewildering, or wondrous as those we have as young children. A day can feel like forever; what we imagine can be so vivid as to be indistinguishable from reality; we’re not wholly sure what’s animate and inanimate; we're still at least half-feral. My interest in childhood led me to write about children’s psychology for Psychiatric Times and for the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Recently, I designed two related university courses that I teach at Antioch University Los Angeles: Representations of Childhood in Literature and the Trauma Memoir.

Deborah's book list on impossible childhoods

Deborah A. Lott Why did Deborah love this book?

This essay collection is not strictly about Jo Jo’s childhood but the pieces like “Bulldozing the Baby,” that are, are indelible. Some might argue that her childhood is not all that impossible, nothing that horrendous happens. The most tragic event for the narrator is when she accidentally damages her doll Hal, a prized transitional object, and her aunt responds by throwing him into the trash. And yet, from the perspective of the toddler JoJo, it feels tragic. Her grief is as deep as any adult’s. If the piece shows us anything, it is that the feelings of childhood are to be taken seriously. Other than that, her father drinks too much, and there is an emotional mismatch between mother and daughter. They don’t understand each other, and not having a parent who sees who you are, even if you grow up relatively privileged – not beaten, not starved, not materially…

By Jo Ann Beard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boys of My Youth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13.

What is this book about?

The "utterly compelling, uncommonly beautiful" collection of personal essays (Newsweek) that established Jo Ann Beard as one of the leading writers of her generation.

Cousins, mothers, sisters, dolls, dogs, best friends: these are the fixed points in Jo Ann Beard's universe, the constants that remain when the boys of her youth -- and then men who replace them -- are gone. This widely praised collection of autobiographical essays summons back, with astonishing grace and power, moments of childhood epiphany as well as the cataclysms of adult life: betrayal, divorce, death.
The Boys of My Youth heralded the arrival of an…


Book cover of The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life

Deborah A. Lott Author Of Don't Go Crazy Without Me

From my list on impossible childhoods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer who’s always been obsessed with early childhood. No experience we have later in life is any more emotionally charged, resonant, intense, bewildering, or wondrous as those we have as young children. A day can feel like forever; what we imagine can be so vivid as to be indistinguishable from reality; we’re not wholly sure what’s animate and inanimate; we're still at least half-feral. My interest in childhood led me to write about children’s psychology for Psychiatric Times and for the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Recently, I designed two related university courses that I teach at Antioch University Los Angeles: Representations of Childhood in Literature and the Trauma Memoir.

Deborah's book list on impossible childhoods

Deborah A. Lott Why did Deborah love this book?

Robert Goolrick does not pretend in this memoir to have overcome or prevailed or found redemption from his horrendous childhood. Instead, he tells us the number of psychotropic prescriptions he must take every day just to be able to function. Something unthinkably awful happens in his seemingly genteel family at the hands of the father who is supposed to protect him, and as a result, he will never be the same. When he tries to tell what happened and seek comfort, let alone redress, his whole family turns on him. Yet Goolrick tells this story with an amazing lyricism and compassion. He unravels his tale slowly, protecting and preparing the reader in a way that no one in his family ever protected or prepared him. 

By Robert Goolrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The End of the World as We Know It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was the 1950s, a time of calm, a time when all things were new and everything seemed possible. A few years before, a noble war had been won, and now life had returned to normal.

For one little boy, however, life had become anything but "normal."

To all appearances, he and his family lived an almost idyllic life. The father was a respected professor, the mother a witty and elegant lady, someone everyone loved. They were parents to three bright, smiling children: two boys and a girl. They lived on a sunny street in a small college town nestled…


Book cover of A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story

Marita Golden Author Of Migrations of the Heart

From my list on why memoir can be both literature and art.

Why am I passionate about this?

Marita Golden is an award-winning author of over twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her books include the novel The Wide Circumference of Love and the memoirs Migrations of the Heart, Saving Our Sons, and Don’t Play in the Sun One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex. She is the recipient of many awards including the Writers for Writers Award from Barnes & Noble and Poets and Writers, an award from the Authors Guild, and the Fiction Award for her novel After, from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, been featured as a question on Jeopardy!, and is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee. 

Marita's book list on why memoir can be both literature and art

Marita Golden Why did Marita love this book?

Elaine Brown served as head of the Black Power Party during the incarceration of the founder Huey P. Newton. 

This memoir is written with all the qualities that made Elaine Brown give herself wholeheartedly to the Black Panther Party, passion, brilliance, keen intelligence, and fearlessness. Brown plumbs the depths of her motivations, the Party’s accomplishments and failures, and fissures that despite her ascent included sexism and brutality.

Brown had incarnations as a writer and singer before joining the Party and in telling her story and the story of a pivotal moment in social history she brings the skill of an artist.

By Elaine Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Taste of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The incredible memoir of Elaine Brown - the first woman leader of the Black Panthers

'Here I was, a woman, proclaiming supreme power over the most militant organization in America'

In 1974 Elaine Brown became the first woman leader of the Black Panther Party. This is her unforgettable memoir, charting her rise from an impoverished neighbourhood in Philadelphia, through her political awakening during a bohemian adolescence, and on to her time as a foot soldier for the Panthers and ascent into its male-dominated upper ranks. It is a seminal exploration of power, racism and one woman's revolutionary struggle.

'Heart-wrenching, wild…


Book cover of Beautiful Country: A Memoir

Marita Golden Author Of Migrations of the Heart

From my list on why memoir can be both literature and art.

Why am I passionate about this?

Marita Golden is an award-winning author of over twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her books include the novel The Wide Circumference of Love and the memoirs Migrations of the Heart, Saving Our Sons, and Don’t Play in the Sun One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex. She is the recipient of many awards including the Writers for Writers Award from Barnes & Noble and Poets and Writers, an award from the Authors Guild, and the Fiction Award for her novel After, from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, been featured as a question on Jeopardy!, and is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee. 

Marita's book list on why memoir can be both literature and art

Marita Golden Why did Marita love this book?

This memoir informed me of the psychological price of immigration and displacement on young children in ways that were searing and deep because of Wang’s mastery of the child’s perspective.

She lived in New York’s Chinatown with her parents two professionals who immigrated from China and experienced poverty, isolation, fear of deportation, working in a sweatshop. She was saved by her love of books and reading, and her mother’s determination to realize the life she left China to have. Wang creates innocence and trauma with a deft, poetic skill that makes this a classic. 

By Qian Julie Wang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beautiful Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK, OBAMA 2021 BOOK PICK and INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Hunger was a constant, reliable friend in Mei Guo. She came second only to loneliness.'

In China she was the daughter of professors. In Brooklyn her family is 'illegal.'

Qian is just seven when she moves to America, the 'Beautiful Country', where she and her parents find that the roads of New York City are not paved with gold, but crushing fear and scarcity. Unable to speak English at first, Qian and her parents must work wherever they can to survive, all while…


Book cover of New Racism: Conservatives and the Ideology of the Tribe

Arun Kundnani Author Of The Muslims Are Coming: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror

From my list on racism in Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kundnani writes about racial capitalism and Islamophobia, surveillance and political violence, and Black radical movements. He is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic War on Terror and The End of Tolerance: racism in 21st century Britain, which was selected as a New Statesman book of the year. He has written for the Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Vice, and The Intercept. Born in London, he moved to New York in 2010. A former editor of the journal Race & Class, he was miseducated at Cambridge University, and holds a PhD from London Metropolitan University. He has been an Open Society fellow and a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

Arun's book list on racism in Britain

Arun Kundnani Why did Arun love this book?

I became involved in anti-racist politics as a student. The first campaign I organized was a protest against a lecturer who had written an essay advocating the deportation of everyone in Britain who was not white. The lecturer presented his argument in terms of the need for cultural homogeneity, which meant he did not have to make easily discredited claims of racial superiority. While the racism was obvious to me, I was struck by how many people believed the lecturer’s cultural argument. To respond to it required understanding how racist arguments could change their form, as older racist ideas lost their plausibility. For a while, I struggled to make sense of this. Then I came across Martin Barker’s book and all my confusion was dispelled. Accessible even as it wrestles with complex ideas of culture and biology, The New Racism shows how, from Enoch Powell onwards, conservatism in Britain has…

By Martin Barker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New Racism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

localization


Book cover of Friday Black

Steven Sherrill Author Of The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

From my list on short stories to send your mind into the sublime.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most of my public success has been as a novelist. My MFA, from the Iowa Writers Workshop, is in poetry. When I grow up, I want to be a short story writer. The dirty truth is, though, I’ve been making trouble with stories since I was a kid. During my first attempt in 10th grade, I wrote a story that got me suspended for two weeks. No explanation. No guidance. Just a conference between my parents, teachers, and principal (I wasn’t present), and they came out and banished me. I dropped out of school shortly after. I reckon that experience, both shameful and delicious, shaped my life and love of narrative.

Steven's book list on short stories to send your mind into the sublime

Steven Sherrill Why did Steven love this book?

Such a rule breaker. A complete disregard for the laws of nature. That can’t happen! I shouldn’t feel so for those characters! And yet, and yet! The characters that people these pages are real and convincing. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah takes us in and out of realities. His world is dark sibling to our everyday world, but even his most flawed characters resonate with dignity, and through skillful well-crafted revelation, the reader comes to understand why these characters struggle—often against societal forces larger/older/engrained—and even when his characters make bad decisions (lord knows a misbehaving character is what good fiction is about) a glimmer of the potential for human goodness is exposed. This a contemporary voice, fierce and fresh, and worth paying attention to.

By Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Friday Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The instant New York Times bestseller
'An unbelievable debut' New York Times

Racism, but "managed" through virtual reality

Black Friday, except you die in a bargain-crazed throng

Happiness, but pharmacological

Love, despite everything

A Publisher's Weekly Most Anticipated Book for Fall 2018

Friday Black tackles urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explores the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In the first, unforgettable story of this collection, The Finkelstein Five, Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unstinting reckoning of the brutal prejudice of the US justice system. In Zimmer Land we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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