100 books like Dreams from My Father

By Barack Obama,

Here are 100 books that Dreams from My Father fans have personally recommended if you like Dreams from My Father. 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 Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Reginald (Reggie) L. Reed Jr. Author Of The Day My Mother Never Came Home

From my list on promoting the power of human healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I experienced severe trauma at an early age in life, which involved numerous challenges that tested my resilience and inner strength. However, through perseverance, self-reflection, and seeking support, I was able to overcome these obstacles and emerge stronger than ever. My experiences have taught me the importance of resilience, the power of healing, and the transformative impact of sharing stories, including the messy ones. I believe that by recommending books that explore these themes, I can inspire and empower others who may be facing similar challenges to find hope, resilience, and a path toward healing.

Reginald's book list on promoting the power of human healing

Reginald (Reggie) L. Reed Jr. Why did Reginald love this book?

I highly recommend this book as it offers a unique and insightful perspective on the complexities of growing up in a world marked by crime and adversity. Noah’s candid storytelling and introspection resonate deeply with themes explored in my book, such as resilience, perseverance, and the capacity humans have for survival.

Through Noah’s journey, readers gain an understanding of the impact of injustices and personal experiences on shaping one's worldview and navigating life's challenges.

By Trevor Noah,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Born a Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE THURBER PRIZE

The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his…


Book cover of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Ann O’Loughlin Author Of Escape to the Irish Village

From my list on strong women and female friendship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the extraordinary things ordinary people do, particularly women. Women show such strength; they juggle so many things every day, and they can draw on huge reserves of power in a crisis. Time and time again, I see how when women pull together, they can conquer anything. A woman on her own can do many things, but when we band together, nothing can stop us. So often, others concentrate on the negative aspects of a group of women together, but I have seen the power of female friendship and how we can reach the stars when we hold each other up. 

Ann's book list on strong women and female friendship

Ann O’Loughlin Why did Ann love this book?

This book was published after the demonstration at Tiananmen Square, Beijing which ended in bloodshed. With this book, I felt finally somebody was giving an honest account of life in China in the 20th Century and  under the Chinese Communist Party.

But this is no regular history book; it is Jung Chang’s personal account following the lives of three generations of women in her own family: Jung Chang herself, her mother, and her grandmother. They endured so much, but I was struck by how united and loving they remained. They managed in the face of adversity to keep their humanity, inner strength, and incredible courage.

I felt empowered by these women, from the grandmother who had endured the torture of having her feet bound as a young girl to the author who showed admirable courage to tell us exactly what China was like right up and through the dark years…

By Jung Chang,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Wild Swans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few books have had such an impact as Wild Swans: a popular bestseller which has sold more than 13 million copies and a critically acclaimed history of China; a tragic tale of nightmarish cruelty and an uplifting story of bravery and survival.

Through the story of three generations of women in her own family - the grandmother given to the warlord as a concubine, the Communist mother and the daughter herself - Jung Chang reveals the epic history of China's twentieth century.

Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its descriptions, this is a masterpiece which is extraordinary in every way.


Book cover of Between the World and Me

David Hanna Author Of History Nation: A Citizen's Guide to the History of the United States

From my list on read if you love Howard Zinn's A People's History Of the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both an author and a teacher, I’ve been using Howard Zinn’s iconic book for over 20 years. I have found it to be an effective counterweight to more orthodox texts, as well as a credible platform for stimulating discussion. In writing my own “guide” to U.S. history, I always kept Zinn in mind. While we may not always agree, the dissonance is something I’m certain Howard Zinn would appreciate. He was unafraid to "engage" with his subject matter and his readers. This is an inspiration.

David's book list on read if you love Howard Zinn's A People's History Of the United States

David Hanna Why did David love this book?

Coates’s semi-autobiographical examination of life for black men in American society, and more broadly in American history, is an education. Like Zinn, Coates calls America on the hypocrisy inherent in its highest ideals and its most cherished conceits.

As Coates himself later said about Zinn, "He knocked me on my ass." The two - while not always on the same page in their critical examinations of the American experiment, are clearly kindred spirits. They both want America to do better and clearly believe it can do better if it is honest about itself - but will it be? This is the question left ominously dangling by both Zinn and Coates.

By Ta-Nehisi Coates,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Between the World and Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • ONE OF OPRAH’S “BOOKS THAT HELP ME THROUGH” • NOW AN HBO ORIGINAL SPECIAL EVENT
 
Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone)
 
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN •…


Book cover of Manchild in the Promised Land

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

Although presented as a novel, this book is a memoir of Brown’s life growing up as a Black boy in Harlem in the 1940s and 50s amid poverty, violence, and addiction.

Marlene was in Paris in the summer of 1969 when a young white American man gave her a book to read. Brown’s story smacked me in the face. He lived in an America that was foreign to me—poverty, addiction, violence, incarceration. His experiences growing up on the streets of Harlem were so different from mine in suburban New Jersey.

What I remember most is my wonder at Brown’s description of “conking” his hair—straightening it with chemical relaxers that damaged his hair and burned his scalp. His description has stayed with me for all these years as a reminder of how little I knew and know about the lives of Blacks and their position in a white world.

By Claude Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Manchild in the Promised Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This thinly fictionalized account of Claude Brown's childhood as a streetwise criminal trying to survive the toughest streets of Harlem of everyday life for the first generation African American raised in the Northern ghettos of the 1940s and 1950s.


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

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

Growing up, Marlene learned about the Holocaust through stories about members of her mother’s family who died in the Holocaust. As a Lutheran growing up in Minnesota, Fern learned little about the Holocaust. As whites, neither of us learned much about the Jim Crow era in the US or the northern migration of southern African Americans during that era.

Isabelle Wilkerson grew up knowing the stories of her parents’ migration north to Washington, DC. Those stories shaped her desire to chronicle the Great Migration (1915-1970), in which millions of African Americans left the Jim Crow South for better lives in northern cities. Although many achieved success that would not have been possible, they experienced the same interpersonal and institutional racism in the North that they thought they were escaping from.

Wilkerson, a journalist, gives us the sweep of history grounded by the stories of four African Americans. 

By Isabel Wilkerson,

Why should I read it?

13 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

Melinda Lewis Author Of Social Policy for Effective Practice: A Strengths Approach

From my list on igniting students’ passions about policy change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a policy advocate, grassroots activist, university professor, and author committed to social change—at scale—to advance social work values of racial, economic, environmental, and social justice. Recognizing that most social workers are drawn to our profession because they want to make a difference in the lives of their clients, one by one, I invest my energies and skills to making policy study and practice accessible, relevant, and urgent. My students quickly get used to noting the book recommendations I sprinkle throughout class discussions and in assignment feedback, because when you see the world through a social policy frame, everything has a policy implication! 

Melinda's book list on igniting students’ passions about policy change

Melinda Lewis Why did Melinda love this book?

Wilkerson’s scholarship on race and injustice is certainly not a secret, but I still find some colleagues who have not yet read this book.

To convince people to pick it up, I promise that its language is poetic and imminently accessible, and I share the two pieces that have remained top of mind for years: first, Wilkerson’s research about the lessons Nazi Germany took from the racial caste system of Jim Crow United States, and second, the way she crafts an analogy of a crumbling house to make the case for reparations for racist harm, which—like cracks in the foundation of a house you just bought—may not be your fault but are still your problem.

I am forever grateful to Wilkerson for gifting us her insights and rhetorical tools, conveyed so skillfully in this tremendous contribution.

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 Invisible Man

Chris Harding Thornton Author Of Little Underworld

From my list on hilarious books that rip your heart from your chest.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of my favorite writers, Ralph Ellison, said art could "transform dismal sociological facts" through "tragi-comic transcendence." For me, finding humor in the horrific is a means of survival. It's a way of embracing life's tragedy and finding beauty. My two novels, Pickard County Atlas and Little Underworld, try to do that.

Chris' book list on hilarious books that rip your heart from your chest

Chris Harding Thornton Why did Chris love this book?

I’m pretty certain Invisible Man is The Great American Novel. Some lines make me laugh aloud: “I would remain and become a well-disciplined optimist and help them to go merrily to hell.” But the moments that really sing for me are those that ring with humor, horror, tragedy, and beauty all at once.

Near the end, during a moment when the nameless narrator hides and listens to some men telling a story, he aches with the urge to laugh while realizing what’s been said isn’t only funny: “It was funny and dangerous and sad.” The book reminds me that all of those things can be held in my head at once. 

By Ralph Ellison,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Invisible Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this deeply compelling novel and epic milestone of American literature, a nameless narrator tells his story from the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. 

He describes growing up in a Black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood," before retreating amid violence and confusion.

Originally published in 1952 as the first novel by a then unknown author, it remained on the bestseller list for…


Book cover of Call the Midwife

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Food of Love: Cooking Up a Life Across Gender, Class and Race

From my list on memoirs which help us understand the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

For The Oxford Times, I wrote the lives of 120 inspirational people from five continents. My 3 novels are inspired by real lives including the charity founder Nancy Mudenyo Hunt and the artist Qu Leilei, the hero of Andy Cohen’s film Beijing Spring. Stories of 30 not-famous choir members in I Love you All show that we are each unique. My memoir has a particular purpose. I dug deep into my life and my husband Atam’s to reveal the intersection of gender class and race—the barriers that shaped my life and how Atam and I tried to transcend them.

Sylvia's book list on memoirs which help us understand the world

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

I was born in my parent’s house which, like all in our area, had no central heating. That was the reality of giving birth in the forties and fifties in England. Jennifer’s memoir of midwifery in working-class Poplar, in the docklands of London, gave rise to one of the most popular TV series. The BBC has taken the story beyond Jennifer’s memoir but the tone is the same. The TV series, like the book, tackles difficult social, cultural, and economic issues, with insight, compassion, and humour. I aimed to tackle issues of class, gender, and race in my memoir in a similar tone.

By Jennifer Worth,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Call the Midwife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey

Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London's East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women—from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English, to the prostitutes of the city's seedier side.

An unfortgettable story of motherhood, the bravery of…


Book cover of Greetings from Bury Park: Race. Religion. Rock 'n' Roll

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Food of Love: Cooking Up a Life Across Gender, Class and Race

From my list on memoirs which help us understand the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

For The Oxford Times, I wrote the lives of 120 inspirational people from five continents. My 3 novels are inspired by real lives including the charity founder Nancy Mudenyo Hunt and the artist Qu Leilei, the hero of Andy Cohen’s film Beijing Spring. Stories of 30 not-famous choir members in I Love you All show that we are each unique. My memoir has a particular purpose. I dug deep into my life and my husband Atam’s to reveal the intersection of gender class and race—the barriers that shaped my life and how Atam and I tried to transcend them.

Sylvia's book list on memoirs which help us understand the world

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

When I grew up in Luton, to cross the path of anyone who wasn’t white was rare. When Pakistan-born Safraz moved there, in 1974, the population of the industrial town was changing rapidly. Safraz’s memoir recounts with poignant humour, the effects of racism but also the friendships and the MUSIC! It’s been turned into a moving film Blinded by the Light by Gurinder Chadha. Prejudice is not white – it is human. Safraz married Bridget, a union initially disapproved of by his mother and siblings because she was a non-Muslim white woman.

By Sarfraz Manzoor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greetings from Bury Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sarfraz Manzoor was two years old when his family emigrated from Pakistan to join his father in Bury Park, Luton. His teenage years were a constant battle to reconcile being both British and Muslim. But when his best friend introduced him to Bruce Springsteen, his life changed for ever. In this affectionate and timely memoir, Manzoor retraces his journey from the frustrations of his childhood to his reaction to the tragedies of 9/11 and 7/7. Original, darkly tender and wryly amusing, this is an inspiring tribute to the power of music to transcend race and religion and a moving account…


Book cover of Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black

Naomi Raquel Enright Author Of Strength of Soul

From my list on the complexity of identity and to challenge racism.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for examining racism and identity has been lifelong, born out of my experience as the daughter of an Ecuadorian mother and a Jewish-American father, a native speaker of English and Spanish, and a citizen of three countries. I was born in La Paz, Bolivia, raised in NYC, and spent childhood summers in Guayaquil. My identity has been consistently questioned and challenged. This all led to a deep desire to understand the complexity of identity and the history and dynamics of systemic racism. My son, who is presumed to be white, enhanced this passion, and it is because of him that I wrote Strength of Soul.

Naomi's book list on the complexity of identity and to challenge racism

Naomi Raquel Enright Why did Naomi love this book?

I read Life on the Color Line as a junior in high school. I was amazed by William’s intimate account of having lived, first as a white boy in America, and then, as a Black boy in America. His life story illuminates not only the fiction that “race” is biological and immutable, but the powerful reality of white supremacy. Little did I know when reading Williams’s book that I would one day give birth to a son this society deems to be white. This is, in many ways, a painful book, but it is also one about the power of love and community. The love and community Williams found is what led him to share his story, which is a necessary and crucial reminder to challenge racism at its root. 

By Gregory Howard Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life on the Color Line as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Heartbreaking and uplifting… a searing book about race and prejudice in America… brims with insights that only someone who has lived on both sides of the racial divide could gain.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“A triumph of storytelling as well as a triumph of spirit.”—Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning author of There Are No Children Here

As a child in 1950s segregated Virginia, Gregory Howard Williams grew up believing he was white. But when the family business failed and his parents’ marriage fell apart, Williams discovered that his dark-skinned father, who had been passing as Italian-American, was half black. The family split up, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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