100 books like Douglass' Women

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Here are 100 books that Douglass' Women fans have personally recommended if you like Douglass' Women. 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 The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I: The Witnesses

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Until I read The Resurrection of Nat Turner, I considered myself a pacifist. I ended this novel and its sequel rooting for violent resistance and for Nat Turner, the man who led the most famous slave rebellion in American history, a man who was responsible for the deaths of women and children. In a culture of violence and unequivocal evil, turning the other cheek cannot be the only recourse. Foster left me forever changed.

By Sharon Ewell Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A riveting novel about tragic hero Nat Turner's uprising, capture, and trial-and how he impacted life in the United States forever.

The truth has been buried more than one hundred years . . .

Leading a small army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the captives free. When words failed, he ignited an uprising that left over fifty whites dead. In the predawn hours of August 22, 1831, Nat Turner stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the other. His rebellion shined a national spotlight on slavery…


Book cover of The Prophets

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

This is one of those novels I read as a writer, and I thought I should just pack it in because I’ll never be able to write anything so gloriously beautiful, heartbreaking, and perfect.

While Robert Jones, Jr. meticulously creates an atmosphere of the harsh realities of slavery–stretching from the shores of Africa to the cotton fields of Mississippi–he brings us up above all that ugliness, all that inhumanity by offering a transcendental love story between two of the slaves, Samuel and Isaiah.

Even though the harshness, so realized that it made my stomach turn while reading the story, is so visceral and painful, it is the love story that not only infuses itself throughout the plantation–from the slave quarters to the main house–that supersedes all and wends its way into your skin, your heart, your soul. This novel is an achievement beyond anything I expected.

By Robert Jones, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Prophets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*

'This visionary and deeply evocative debut carves a radiant love story out of the bleakest of landscapes.' Waterstones - Best Books to Look Out For in 2021

'An Outstanding novel' Guardian
'A lyrical, poetic novel' Independent
'Epic in its scale' Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
'A rare marvel' Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
'Magisterial' Courttia Newland, author of A River Called Time
'A spellbinding debut' COSMO
'Ambitious and intense' Vanity Fair

In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose…


Book cover of Sister of Mine

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

The Jewish people have been persecuted—even enslaved—for millennia. One would hope this would make them more compassionate toward another persecuted and enslaved group, American Blacks. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the way human nature works. To quote Frederick Douglass: “Everybody, in the south, wants the privilege of whipping somebody else.” If humans can get ahead by oppressing someone else, we too often do. With her fictional Jewish family and the Blacks they enslave—one of whom is also their blood kin—Waldfogel explores this terrible truth. A hundred and fifty years after its setting, this novel challenged me to be a better human.

By Sabra Waldfogel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When two Union soldiers stumble onto a plantation in northern Georgia on a warm May day in 1864, the last thing they expect is to see the Union flag flying high-or to be greeted by a group of freed slaves and their Jewish mistress. Little do they know that this place has an unusual history.

Twelve years prior, Adelaide Mannheim-daughter of Mordecai, the only Jewish planter in the county-was given her own maid, a young slave named Rachel. The two became friends, and soon they discovered a secret: Mordecai was Rachel's father, too.

As the country moved toward war, Adelaide…


Book cover of Freeman

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This novel begins just after the American Civil War and Emancipation, but it foreshadows the horrific legacy of slavery. The titular character, a Black man named Sam who is now free, goes in search of Tilda, the wife whom slavery ripped away from him. Meanwhile, her Confederate enslaver drags Tilda westward, refusing to give up the woman he thinks he owns. How do you rebuild a society and a family in the wake of slavery’s devastation? Pitts explores this question unforgettably, acknowledging the inevitable violence but with a glimmer of hope. Freeman put me through a whole gamut of emotions. It rung me out and gave me a soothing cup of tea at the end.

By Leonard Pitts, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged." At the same…


Book cover of The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation

Joshua D. Rothman Author Of The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America

From my list on the domestic slave trade.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught history at the University of Alabama since the year 2000, and I have been working and writing as a historian of American slavery for more than twenty-five years. It is not an easy subject to spend time with, but it is also not a subject we can afford to turn away from because it makes us uncomfortable. Slavery may not be the only thing you need to understand about American history, but you cannot effectively understand American history without it. 

Joshua's book list on the domestic slave trade

Joshua D. Rothman Why did Joshua love this book?

That enslaved people were considered commodities is no secret. But in this book, Daina Ramey Berry demonstrates how enslaved people were attached to monetary prices throughout their entire lives. Indeed, enslaved people were in the market even before they were born, and they remained in the market even after they had died. But Berry reminds us that enslaved people themselves understood that their “soul value,” and not their supposed economic value, defined who they really were.

By Daina Ramey Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Price for Their Pound of Flesh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Groundbreaking look at slaves as commodities through every phase of life, from birth to death and beyond, in early America

In life and in death, slaves were commodities, their monetary value assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh is the first book to explore the economic value of enslaved people through every phase of their lives—including preconception, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, the senior years, and death—in the early American domestic slave trade. Covering the full “life cycle,” historian Daina Ramey Berry shows the lengths to which enslavers…


Book cover of Women in the World of Frederick Douglass

Laurence Fenton Author Of Frederick Douglass in Ireland

From my list on the life of Frederick Douglass.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and editor living in Cork, Ireland. I have a PhD in history from University College Cork and am the author of four books, including two on the African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. I have been fascinated by Douglass ever since I discovered he travelled through Ireland as a young man, a tour that coincided with the onset of the Great Irish Famine. Douglass will also appear in the book I am currently writing, ‘Freedom’s Exiles’: The Poets, Plotters and Rebels and Who Found Refuge in Victorian Britain.

Laurence's book list on the life of Frederick Douglass

Laurence Fenton Why did Laurence love this book?

A self-proclaimed ‘woman’s rights man’, Douglass was one of the few men to attend the famous Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in New York in 1848 – the starting point of the women’s rights movement in the US. His connection to women, however, went far deeper than mere political support. Douglass, indeed, always felt more comfortable in the company of women than men, be they Black or white, family members, friends, or fellow activists. This book gives us a fuller picture of these women than ever before. It is particularly strong on Anna Murray, the free Black woman who was Douglass’s first wife. Anna played a pivotal role in Douglass’s escape from Maryland in 1838. She later spent many more years spiriting enslaved people along the Underground Railroad.  

By Leigh Fought,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women in the World of Frederick Douglass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his extensive writings-editorials, speeches, autobiographies-Frederick Douglass revealed little about the private side of his life. His famous autobiographies were very much in the service of presenting and advocating for himself. But Douglass had a very complicated array of relationships with women: white and black, wives and lovers, mistresses-owners, and sisters and daughters. And this great man deeply needed them all at various turns in a turbulent life
that was never so linear and self-made as he often wished to portray it.

In this book, Leigh Fought aims to reveal more about the life of the famed abolitionist off the…


Book cover of Love Twelve Miles Long

Nancy I. Sanders Author Of D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet

From my list on inspirational African American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a bestselling and award-winning KidLit author of more than 100 books, I’ve been blessed to specialize in writing for kids about the amazing and inspiring legacy of African Americans. From an alphabet book for even the youngest readers to biographies with hands-on activities for middle graders and up, both nonfiction and fiction as well, these stories are my passion because many of these individuals are my personal heroes as well. I want kids to love and honor these men and women who have made a difference in our world as much as I do!

Nancy's book list on inspirational African American history

Nancy I. Sanders Why did Nancy love this book?

The author and I live near each other and we got to know each other at local writer events. So when I heard that her book won Lee and Low’s New Voices Award, I just had to get Glenda’s book. And I did! She autographed a copy for me which I treasure. This is a tender, powerful, and inspiring picture book. It tells the true story of how Frederick Douglass’s mother would visit him. He was a young child working on a plantation. His mother lived and worked six miles away. At night, she would walk six miles through the dark woods to come to visit Frederick, then head back home before dawn. He knew his mother loved him—it was a love that stretched 12 miles long.

Book cover of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Written by Himself

Scott Peeples Author Of The Man of the Crowd: Edgar Allan Poe and the City

From my list on early American Gothic not written by Edgar Allan Poe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by Gothic literature (and art, music, and movies), and I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to talk and write about it—I teach at the College of Charleston (SC), where I just completed a course on American Gothic. I’m especially interested in nineteenth-century American writers, and I’ve written three books on Edgar Allan Poe, the most recent of which is The Man of the Crowd: Edgar Allan Poe and the City. For this list, I limited myself to Americans who, like Poe, wrote before and during the Civil War.

Scott's book list on early American Gothic not written by Edgar Allan Poe

Scott Peeples Why did Scott love this book?

This might seem like a strange pick, since it’s almost never described in terms of Gothicism.

Douglass’s narrative is essential reading regardless—a compelling narrative and one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century literature. What makes it Gothic? In Douglass’s world, nothing is what it appears to be, because slavery has corrupted not only institutions but virtually all personal relationships. There are trap doors everywhere and a constant threat of violence.

A century and a half before Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Douglass’s book describes the Gothic horror of everyday life under slavery.

By Frederick Douglass, John R. McKivigan, IV (editor), Peter P. Hinks (editor) , Heather L. Kaufman (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most influential literary documents in American and African American history, now available in a critical edition

"This edition is the most valuable teaching tool on slavery and abolition available today. It is exceptional."-Nancy Hewitt, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Rutgers University

Ideal for independent reading or for coursework in American and African American history, this revised edition of the memoir written by Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) of his life as a slave in pre-Civil War Maryland incorporates a wide range of supplemental materials to enhance students' understanding of slavery, abolitionism, and the role of race in American society. Offering readers…


Book cover of Young Frederick Douglass

Laurence Fenton Author Of Frederick Douglass in Ireland

From my list on the life of Frederick Douglass.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and editor living in Cork, Ireland. I have a PhD in history from University College Cork and am the author of four books, including two on the African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. I have been fascinated by Douglass ever since I discovered he travelled through Ireland as a young man, a tour that coincided with the onset of the Great Irish Famine. Douglass will also appear in the book I am currently writing, ‘Freedom’s Exiles’: The Poets, Plotters and Rebels and Who Found Refuge in Victorian Britain.

Laurence's book list on the life of Frederick Douglass

Laurence Fenton Why did Laurence love this book?

An evocative account of the young Douglass and the Maryland world into which he was born. Originally published in 1980 but recently re-released, this is a beautiful book that delivers much more than the title suggests. It is also the book that finally pinpointed the correct month and year in which Douglass was born – February 1818. Those who enslaved people often kept such precious, deeply personal information away from those they enslaved - it was a sign of power, one minor manifestation of the many inquities of slavery.

By Dickson J. Preston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Young Frederick Douglass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"No one working on Douglass should leave home without a copy of this book."-from the foreword by David W. Blight, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Drawing on previously untapped sources, Young Frederick Douglass recreates with fidelity and in convincing detail the background and early life of the man who was to become "the gadfly of America's conscience" and the undisputed spokesman for nineteenth-century black Americans.

With a new foreword by renowned Douglass scholar David W. Blight, Dickson J. Preston's highly regarded biography traces the life and times of Frederick Douglass from his birth on Maryland's…


Book cover of David Walker's Appeal: To the Coloured Citizens of the World

Keenan Norris Author Of The Confession of Copeland Cane

From my list on coming of age while Black.

Why am I passionate about this?

Besides having come of age while Black, I’ve published two coming-of-age novels about Black adolescents. Even before I became a writer, or an adult, I had had a particular interest in coming-of-age narratives. From Walter Dean Myers’ Harlem-located Young Adult novels to Toni Morrison’s Sula and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, I’ve always been attracted to such stories. However, what the book list offered here does is map a reading series for what I see as an exciting intellectual formation for a Black reader.

Keenan's book list on coming of age while Black

Keenan Norris Why did Keenan love this book?

I’ve long been fascinated with Walker’s life and work. Ten years ago, I devoted a chapter of my dissertation to Walker and now I’m working with TED-ED on an animated video and related teaching materials about the man whom Frederick Douglass himself cited as the progenitor of the radical abolitionist movement.

When teaching African-American Literature courses, I’ve found Walker’s Appeal to be an especially effective entry point for Black students who are tired of stories of slavery and Black debasement. Walker, as a freeborn Black man from the slaveholding south (and later Boston), offers a different vision: of impressive erudition and entrepreneurship, of Pan-African pride and militant resistance.

By David Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked David Walker's Appeal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1829 David Walker, a free black born in Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote one of America's most provocative political documents of the nineteenth century, Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World. Decrying the savage and unchristian treatment blacks suffered in the United States, Walker challenged his "afflicted and slumbering brethren" to rise up and cast off their chains. Walker worked tirelessly to circulate his book via underground networks in the South, and he was so successful that Southern lawmakers responded with new laws cracking down on "incendiary" antislavery material. Although Walker died in 1830, the Appeal remained a…


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