84 books like I Am Not Sidney Poitier

By Percival L. Everett,

Here are 84 books that I Am Not Sidney Poitier fans have personally recommended if you like I Am Not Sidney Poitier. 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 Hell of a Book

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

This National Book Award-winning novel is the story of an unnamed writer negotiating life in a Black skin that pre-empts most people from seeing him as an individual human being. And it has one of the funniest (pee-in-your-pants) first chapters I’ve ever read.

I not only laughed, but I so identified with the writer (and I think most readers will, no matter what your race—that is the genius of this writing), that I lived every moment of this crazy quest to be seen in a world that absolutely refuses to drop its projections.

But ultimately, the person who needs to see this man as a human being, accepting all of his history, hurt, and uniqueness, is the unnamed writer himself. This is a combination of crazy humor and pain.

By Jason Mott,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hell of a Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***

***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***

Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, 2022 Chautauqua Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize shortlist

A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

An Ebony Magazine Publishing Book Club Pick! 

One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction | One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 | One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year | One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books | One of…


Book cover of Here Goes Nothing

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

Not only did I laugh all the way through this rollicking novel, but I felt as if author Steve Toltz is a brother writer from a cousin muse to my own.

Angus Mooney, the protagonist, is a thief, a romantic, and a philosopher who is dedicated to the easier path of not learning or understanding anything. And, not a spoiler, he dies.

If you console yourself that a better life awaits you in heaven, or if you're resigned to life being painful, but after all, it's only temporary, and once it's over, it'll be over, think again.

In this shockingly inventive, wildly funny epic about one man's life, death, and beyond, you may have some epiphanies about existence in general and how you want to spend or squander your time.

By Steve Toltz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Here Goes Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Times (of London) Best Fiction Book of 2022

A wildly inventive, savagely funny and topical novel about love, mortality and the afterlife, by the Booker-shortlisted author of A Fraction of the Whole.

Angus is a reformed ne'er-do-well looking forward to the birth of his first child when he's murdered by a man who is in love with his pregnant wife Gracie. Having never believed in God, heaven or hell, Angus finds himself in the afterlife - a place that provides more questions than answers. As a worldwide pandemic finally reaches the shores of Australia, the afterlife starts to get…


Book cover of Donna Has Left the Building

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

How I love to laugh at the same time that I’m feeling all the raw pain of being a human—in this case a human woman who runs away from home. The beginning of this book—about a housewife, cooking ware saleswoman's trip to hell and back, is belly-laugh-inducing, causing one to cough and gasp in joy. But there’s more: Gilman writes real, complicated characters, complete with pain and delusions. And the reason they are so deeply funny is that Gilman is self-aware enough to know and show their flaws better than they know them. 

Titular protagonist Donna Koczynski may inhabit a particular era (one when trendiness reigns), but she is rooted in her own psychology, which includes equal parts compassion, open-minded curiosity, lunatic-level denial, and crazed she-wolf rage.

By Susan Jane Gilman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Donna Has Left the Building as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Donna Koczynski is a failed punk rocker, recovering alcoholic, and suburban mother of two teenagers whose relatively peaceful existence suddenly detonates when she comes home early from a sales conference in Vegas to find the surprise of a lifetime. Suddenly realizing that life can be more than the rut of middle-aged motherhood, she sets off on an impulsive quest to reclaim everything she believes she sacrificed since her wild youth: Friendship, great love, and art. But as she flees her family and drives across the U.S. on what she calls an "emotional scavenger hunt"(and others might call a midlife crisis),…


Book cover of I Am Sovereign

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

Hint: You have to read a hard copy of this book because the comedy is designed into the fonts and layout, which could never be translated into an ebook.

This is a free-for-all bumper car ride between people and their ids, filled with abrupt and perfect transitions that are so logical in their illogic that they are funny. 

But not only is it unique and funny, but it is founded on a profound understanding of silence—its essential healing and our inability to find it. 

This book is so inventive I’m kind of amazed (1) that it got published and (2) that author Nicola Barker and this book appear to be wildly popular in the U.K.

By Nicola Barker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

__________________________________________
'One of the funniest, most finely achieved comic novels, even by her own standard ... I think it's a masterpiece.' ALI SMITH

'I think Nicola Barker is incapable of a dull page. [Her work] is unified by its spirit of adventure.' KEVIN BARRY

Charles, a forty-year-old boutique teddy bear maker and wearer of ironic t-shirts, is trying - and failing - to sell his small, characterless house in Llandudno. His estate agent Avigail, whose name is definitely not Abigail, is trying - in vain - to rein in Charles's most unhelpful eccentricities, especially his repeated recounting to prospective buyers…


Book cover of The Man Who Lived Underground

Joshua Piven Author Of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Apocalypse

From my list on non-traditional stories about survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m often asked if my Worst-Case Scenario books are serious or humorous. And my answer is always the same: “Yes!” While inspired by pop culture and the survival situations we see again and again in movies and on TV, the information in my books is real. I spend a lot of time seeking out experts to interview—the people who actually have done this stuff—and then distilling their survival wisdom into the form you see in the books. As humans, we want to be prepared for life’s twists and turns. Even if it’s, you know, when the aliens arrive. I’ve been a survival writer and humorist for 25 years and I ain’t stopping now! 

Joshua's book list on non-traditional stories about survival

Joshua Piven Why did Joshua love this book?

I vividly remember reading Native Son in high school, and to this day it remains one of my favorites (as well as one of the best novels of the 20th Century).

So, when I heard a few years ago that Richard Wright’s lost-lost novella was going to be published nearly thirty years after his death, I picked up a copy. Wow. It’s the story of a Black man, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, who evades capture by (yes, as the title says) living underground in the sewers.

The survival aspects, including his ingenuity and the break-ins into buildings and basements he plans to get supplies, are fascinating. But above all this is a story about injustice and what one person is forced to do to survive in an unequal society. A great read! 

By Richard Wright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Lived Underground as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller • One of the Best Books of the Year by Time magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, and Esquire, and one of Oprah’s 15 Favorite Books of the Year

From the legendary author of Native Son and Black Boy, the novel he was unable to publish during his lifetime—an explosive story of racism, injustice, brutality, and survival. "Not just Wright's masterwork, but also a milestone in African American literature . . . One of those indispensable works that reminds all its readers that, whether we are in the flow of life or somehow separated from…


Book cover of A Lesson Before Dying

Karen Conti Author Of Killing Time with John Wayne Gacy: Defending America's Most Evil Serial Killer on Death Row

From my list on books for law lovers, fairness fighters, and true crime connoisseurs.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I read and watched everything about the Jack the Rippers, Black Dahlias, and Ted Bundys of the world. I think humans are fascinated by these killers, the worst of the worst, in the same way we are drawn to the best of the best. We want to know what makes them tick. One of the reasons I became a lawyer is at a young age I wanted to be a part of making sure justice is done—for everyone, regardless of their societal status. An empathetic person, I wanted to help others, even those who made horrific life choices. The law, true crime, and fighting for fairness are my passions!

Karen's book list on books for law lovers, fairness fighters, and true crime connoisseurs

Karen Conti Why did Karen love this book?

I love the heart-breaking power of this story about a falsely accused Black man on death row in the racist 1940s South. A college-educated teacher visits him in prison and gives him some dignity before his execution happens, and in so doing, gives meaning to himself and his community.

The unfairness of what went on in this country on a daily basis with our criminal justice system is shameful. But this book compels us to rise above it and create meaning and hope.

The conversations are real and raw, and I cried real tears at the end. This book made me think, feel, and care about justice being done.  

By Ernest J. Gaines,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Lesson Before Dying 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 • A deep and compassionate novel about a young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to visit a Black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.

"An instant classic." —Chicago Tribune

A “majestic, moving novel...an instant classic, a book that will be read, discussed and taught beyond the rest of our lives" (Chicago Tribune), from the critically acclaimed author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

"A Lesson Before Dying reconfirms Ernest J. Gaines's position…


Book cover of Bad Blood

Allen M. Hornblum Author Of Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

From my list on human experimentation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began working in prisons 50 years ago. I was just out of grad school and I accepted the challenge of starting a literacy program in the Philadelphia Prison System. The shock of cellblock life was eye-opening, but the most unexpected revelation was the sight of scores of inmates wrapped in bandages and medical tape. Unknown to the general public, the three city prisons had become a lucrative appendage of the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School. As I would discover years later, thousands of imprisoned Philadelphians had been used in a cross-section of unethical and dangerous scientific studies running the gamut from simple hair dye and athlete’s foot trials to radioactive isotope, dioxin, and US Army chemical warfare studies. My account of the prison experiments, Acres of Skin, helped instill in me an abiding faith in well-researched journalism as an antidote to societal indiscretions and crimes.

Allen's book list on human experimentation

Allen M. Hornblum Why did Allen love this book?

This in-depth account of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study is considered a classic in the field of medical ethics. Though Greg Dober and I have recently discovered the true origins of the Public Health Service’s “non-treatment study” and former Surgeon General Thomas Parran’s critical role in the ugly saga, Jones’s book is still the best chronicle available, and lays out a devastating narrative of how a sophisticated but uncaring and racist scientific establishment could annually examine and not treat hundreds of unschooled Alabama sharecroppers suffering from a deadly disease. 

By James H. Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From 1932 to 1972, the United States Public Health Service conducted a non-therapeutic experiment involving over 400 black male sharecroppers infected with syphilis. The Tuskegee Study had nothing to do with treatment. It purpose was to trace the spontaneous evolution of the disease in order to learn how syphilis affected black subjects. The men were not told they had syphilis; they were not warned about what the disease might do to them; and, with the exception of a smattering of medication during the first few months, they were not given health care. Instead of the powerful drugs they required, they…


Book cover of Blood Grove

Michael R. Lane Author Of The Gem Connection

From my list on African American mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid reader, I read a wide variety of books. Of the fiction genre mystery and suspense remain my favorite. From the classics to the gritty, a well-told mystery is a literary gem. As my mystery palette has aged—like my taste in wine—so are my demands of what makes a good mystery novel. The best mysteries for me contain more than a serpentine journey toward the hidden truth. They have intriguing characters, crisp dialogue, interesting settings, formidable foes, and of course indispensable heroes or anti-heroes. My writing goal is aimed at achieving the same level of literary penmanship of the mysteries I enjoy reading so much.

Michael's book list on African American mysteries

Michael R. Lane Why did Michael love this book?

Easy Rawlins is an African American private detective in 1960s Los Angeles. Easy gets a visit from a troubled Vietnam veteran at his office. The vet tells an implausible story of him and his lover being attacked in a citrus grove outside the city. He may have killed the man. The woman and his dog are missing. Rawlins’ gut tells him the case is nothing but trouble. He takes the case anyway. The bond between veterans overriding all other concerns. Blood Grove is an exhilarating, mystery soup involving moguls, sociopaths, cops, hippies, extremists, and swindlers. Requiring Easy to call upon help from his friends. Friends who range from genius to lethal. I loved going along with Easy on this case. Admiring his resolve and intelligence in solving the mystery.

By Walter Mosley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ezekiel "Easy" Porterhouse Rawlins is an unlicensed private investigator turned hard-boiled detective always willing to do what it takes to get things done in the racially charged, dark underbelly of Los Angeles.

But when Easy is approached by a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran- a young white man who claims to have gotten into a fight protecting a white woman from a black man- he knows he shouldn't take the case.

Though he sees nothing but trouble in the brooding ex-soldier's eyes, Easy, a vet himself, feels a kinship form between them. Easy embarks on an investigation that takes him from…


Book cover of Follow the Angels, Follow the Doves: The Bass Reeves Trilogy, Book One

Venetia Hobson Lewis Author Of Changing Woman: A Novel of the Camp Grant Massacre

From my list on the old west with in-depth characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an amalgam of all of my varied interests and varied employments from actress and singer to corporate paralegal at a movie studio. Since my teenage years, I’ve loved to research. That joy leads into writing factually-accurate historical fiction set in the West. Delving into the private lives of both the fictional and the real people gives the reader a better understanding of the characters’ designated paths leading to the events upon which my novel is based. My recommendations for the best books set in the West with in-depth characters have qualities I’ve employed in my novel. Some of these books also delve into characters from differing races, reflecting most towns in the Old West.

Venetia's book list on the old west with in-depth characters

Venetia Hobson Lewis Why did Venetia love this book?

Bass Reeves, a real individual, was a slave in Texas and, as personal attendant and crack shot, accompanied his owner, an officer in the 11th Texas Cavalry Regiment, into battle during the Civil War.

The lyrical and colorful narrative closely resembles Bass Reeves’s speech and thoughts, so that one flows into the other. That’s fine writing. Thompson reveals in meticulous detail behavioral traditions between owner and slave and between the slaves themselves that reflect the injustice rife at that time.

This is the first novel in a trilogy, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next two books.

By Sidney Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Follow the Angels, Follow the Doves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Adapted for the Paramount+ miniseries Lawmen: Bass Reeves, directed by Taylor Sheridan and starring David Oyelowo

2022 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist for Western Fiction
2021 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist for Prose
2021 International Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Book Award for Historical Fiction in Event/Era
2021 Oklahoma Book Award Finalist for Fiction from the Oklahoma Center for the Book
2021 Will Rogers Medallion Book Award Finalist for Western Fiction
2021 Spur Award Finalist for Historical Novel from the Western Writers of America
2021 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist for Historical Fiction (Pre 1900s)
2020…


Book cover of How Are You Going to Save Yourself

Diane Josefowicz Author Of Ready, Set, Oh

From my list on you’ve never heard of about Rhode Island.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a Rhode Islander, I didn’t have to do too much research to write Ready, Set, Oh. I was born in Providence, and I grew up in Cranston, a suburb outside the city. After graduating from a local high school, I studied at Brown University and after years of living in different cities, fifteen years ago I settled in Providence with my family. I adore this place—we have vibrant neighborhoods, gorgeous beaches, plenty of history, and a surprisingly lively literary scene. I assembled this list to draw attention to some great but under-recognized books set in Rhode Island, either by Rhode Islanders or writers with significant connections to the Biggest Little. 

Diane's book list on you’ve never heard of about Rhode Island

Diane Josefowicz Why did Diane love this book?

This novel-in-stories follows a quartet of friends—Dub, Rollo, Rye, and Gio—as they party, fight, love, and occasionally even consider leaving Rhode Island. Gio, the group’s storyteller, observes, comments, and guides the reader through a hard-edged world of race and class oppression. Guns and drugs flood Gio’s world, but these forces are offset by bonds of family, friends, and friends who become family. Never has the overlooked town of Pawtucket been so lovingly portrayed, and I’ll not soon forget Holmes’ mouthwatering descriptions of Portuguese Catholic feast days in East Providence. A keen observer of toxic masculinity, Holmes shows how misogyny holds this group of young men together while it also holds them back.

By J.M. Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Are You Going to Save Yourself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Four young men struggle to liberate themselves from the burden of being black and male in America in an assured debut "as up-to the-minute as a Kendrick Lamar track and as ruefully steeped in eternal truths as a Gogol tale" (Kirkus, starred review).

Bound together by shared experience but pulled apart by their changing fortunes, four young friends coming of age in the postindustrial enclave of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, struggle to liberate themselves from the legacies left to them as black men in America. With potent immediacy and bracing candor, this provocative debut follows a decade in the lives of…


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