10 books like I Am Not Sidney Poitier

By Percival L. Everett,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like I Am Not Sidney Poitier. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Hell of a Book

By Jason Mott,

Book cover of Hell of a 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.

Hell of a Book

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…


Here Goes Nothing

By Steve Toltz,

Book cover of Here Goes Nothing

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.

Here Goes Nothing

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…


Donna Has Left the Building

By Susan Jane Gilman,

Book cover of Donna Has Left the Building

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.

Donna Has Left the Building

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),…


I Am Sovereign

By Nicola Barker,

Book cover of I Am Sovereign

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.

I Am Sovereign

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…


Bad Blood

By James H. Jones,

Book cover of Bad Blood

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. 

Bad Blood

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…


The Names of All the Flowers

By Melissa Valentine,

Book cover of The Names of All the Flowers: A Memoir

I have not read a book like Melissa Valentine's The Names of All the Flowers, which is a beautiful, painful, and exquisitely written narrative about her brother Junior, who was gunned down on the streets of Oakland when he was 19. "Say his name, say her name," we chant when yet another one of our brothers or sisters is killed. In this memoir, Valentine gives us not only Junior's name but an intimate look into his head, his heart, his fears, his dreams, his joy.

The Names of All the Flowers

By Melissa Valentine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Names of All the Flowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in rapidly gentrifying 1990s Oakland, this memoir—"poignant, painful, and gorgeous" (Alicia Garza)—explores siblinghood, adolescence, and grief in a family shattered by loss.

Melissa and her older brother Junior grow up running around the disparate neighborhoods of 1990s Oakland, two of six children to a white Quaker father and a black Southern mother. But as Junior approaches adolescence, a bullying incident and later a violent attack in school leave him searching for power and a sense of self in all the wrong places; he develops a hard front and falls into drug dealing. Right before Junior’s twentieth birthday, the family…


Native Son

By Richard Wright,

Book cover of Native Son

Unless your first reading has been spoiled by a movie or CliffsNotes, I don’t believe you can fail to be stunned by Wright’s 1940 eons-ahead-of-its-time pièce de résistance. While much has been written addressing racial bias in the courtroom (that is, if the defendant survives the initial encounter with police), the author took the outlandish step of providing head-spinning complexity: presenting a culpable protagonist, albeit one whose crime against an affluent young white woman came about unwittingly, having everything to do with his knowledge that he, a Black man, would invariably be perceived as guilty. Wright never lets us off the hook, forcing readers of all hues to consider the entanglements of race, class, and jurisprudence, beginning the day those of us who are not white and/or privileged are born.

Native Son

By Richard Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reissued to mark the 80th anniversary of Native Son's publication - discover Richard Wright's brutal and gripping masterpiece this black history month.

'[Native Son] possesses an artistry, penetration of thought, and sheer emotional power that places it into the front rank of American fiction' Ralph Ellison

Reckless, angry and adrift, Bigger Thomas has grown up trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago. But a job with the affluent Dalton family provides the setting for a catastrophic collision between his world and theirs. Hunted by citizen and police alike, and baited by prejudiced officials, Bigger finds himself…


The Legend of Bagger Vance

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life

I suspect more people saw the movie (starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron and Jack Lemmon in his final role) than read the book by Steven Pressfield. Too bad, because the book’s pretty good.

It tells the entirely fictional tale of a 36-hole showdown match during the Depression between Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and a local hero named Rannulph Junuh and his caddie, Bagger Vance. Grantland Rice and O.B. Keeler are there (famous sportswriters in the 1920s), and, of course, there is a femme fatale. But there is an underlying respect and honor for the game, which makes this novel a keeper.

The Legend of Bagger Vance

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Legend of Bagger Vance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

___________________

'A marvellous, life-affirming book' Mark McCormack

'Golf and mysticism...a dazzler and a thought-provoker' Los Angeles Times

'Good stuff...a philosophical fantasy imagined on a golf course, heavy with fog, storm, fireworks and the howling winds of supernatural forces' New York Times Book Review
___________________

In the Depression year of 1931, on the golf links at Krewe Island off Savannah's windswept shore, two legends of the game - Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen - meet for a mesmerizing thirty-six hole showdown.

They are joined by another player, a troubled war hero called Rannulph Junah. But the key to the outcome lies…


Men We Reaped

By Jesmyn Ward,

Book cover of Men We Reaped: A Memoir

Three years ago, a close friend and I formed a two-person book club. We read a memoir per month for one year. Men We Reaped was my favorite. In the space of four years, the author loses five beloved boys/men in her life, including her own brother. Men we reaped. Like a crop that’s been over-harvested, “[t]hese young men died because of who they were and the place they were from, because certain disadvantages breed a certain kind of bad luck.” Ward brings each young man to life so successfully, that readers mourn when each is gone. In writing this memoir, she memorializes them: Roger Eric Daniels III, Demond Cook, Charles Joseph Martin, Ronald Wayne Lizana, Joshua Adam Dedeaux. Speak their names, so they’ll not be forgotten.

Men We Reaped

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Men We Reaped as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ 'A brutal, moving memoir ... Anyone who emerges from America's black working-class youth with words as fine as Ward's deserves a hearing' - Guardian 'Raw, beautiful and dangerous' - New York Times Book Review 'Lavishly endowed with literary craft and hard-earned wisdom' - Time _______________ The beautiful, haunting memoir from Jesmyn Ward, the first woman to win the National Book Award twice 'And then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped' - Harriet Tubman Jesmyn Ward's acclaimed memoir shines…


Suder

By Percival L. Everett,

Book cover of Suder

Any novel that shines a light on the adventures and misadventures of a fictional Seattle Mariners third baseman with a pet elephant that answers to the name Renoir is worthy of your time and attention. I’m late to the party on this but so glad I sparked to it. 

Suder

By Percival L. Everett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Craig Suder, third baseman for the Seattle Mariners, is in a terrible slump. He's batting below .200 at the plate, and even worse in bed with his wife; and he secretly fears he's inherited his mother's insanity. Ordered to take a midseason rest, Suder instead takes his record of Charlie Parker's ""Ornithology,"" his record player, and his new saxophone and flees, negotiating his way through madcap adventures and flashbacks to childhood (""If you folks believed more strongly in God, maybe you wouldn't be coloured""). Pursued by a raging dope dealer, saddled with a mishandled elephant and an abused little white…


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