100 books like I Wonder as I Wander

By Langston Hughes,

Here are 100 books that I Wonder as I Wander fans have personally recommended if you like I Wonder as I Wander. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Colored People: A Memoir

Lawrence Goldstone Author Of On Account of Race: The Supreme Court, White Supremacy, and the Ravaging of African American Voting Rights

From my list on for white people to learn about Black people.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eight, my mother was called in to see the principal…yet again. He pulled me out of class, stood me in the hall for maximum intimidation value, then said to my mom, “Your son has no respect for authority.” Mom asked, “What about that, Larry?” My reply—and this is totally true—was, “He doesn’t mean respect. He means courtesy. You can demand courtesy, but you have to earn respect.” Those sentiments have not changed, which is why, I suppose, I have an extremely critical eye for history, especially American history, that deifies the winners. I don’t think we make ourselves stronger as a nation by pretending our leaders were somehow not as human in their flaws as the rest of us.  I prefer to look under what is called “conventional wisdom,” because that’s where the real story often lies.

Lawrence's book list on for white people to learn about Black people

Lawrence Goldstone Why did Lawrence love this book?

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a renowned Harvard professor and author of a series of deeply insightful books on African American history. He has also become one of the most recognizable public figures in the nation, from the PBS series Finding Your Roots and Reconstruction to a cameo in Watchmen in which he played the United States Treasury Secretary. It can be easy to forget that “Skip” Gates was raised in the hills of West Virginia, part of a tight-knit, quirky, distinctly African American community. In Gates’ affectionate memoir detailing his growing up, a series of fascinating characters leap from the page—some Churchgoing, some anything but; some strait-laced; some definitely not; some ambitious, some content to do as little as possible to get by.  Everyone we meet in Colored People is both recognizable and a revelation, and Gates has created a moving and nostalgic look at African American culture that…

By Henry Louis Gates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A re-creation of what it was like to grow up in the hill town of Piedmont, West Virginia, in the 1950s and 1960s. Recalling an age at which the town and people represented his known universe, Gates describes the clannish pride of the family and the sense of place that characterized Piedmont, with its beautiful countryside, its paper mill, whose sulphurous fumes permeated the air but brought the town its prosperity, and the social event of the year, the annual mill picnic. The young Gates's consciousness takes in "colored people" in a time when segregation was still influential. He tells…


Book cover of The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches

John M. Giggie Author Of Bloody Tuesday: The Untold Story of the Struggle for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa

From my list on how we unlock secrets about the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent the last eleven years listening to people describe the worst day of their lives and how they found the grace and courage to persevere. Little in my professional training as a historian prepared me to sit with them and help them make sense of their past. Each of these books offers pathways to recapturing a violent past and imagining how we keep living. 

John's book list on how we unlock secrets about the past

John M. Giggie Why did John love this book?

Du Bois taught me how to be a historian. I began reading him while riding a bus home from a summer job in Boston and missed my stop by two miles.

He insisted that scholars engage in struggles for justice and refuse to spend their professional lives behind stacks of books. He demanded that we center the lives of the forgotten in our writing and allow them to tell us how to write history.

These lessons have never left me. 

By W. E. B. Du Bois,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches is a 1903 work of American literature by W. E. B. Du Bois. It is a seminal work in the history of sociology and a cornerstone of African-American literature.


The book contains several essays on race, some of which had been published earlier in The Atlantic Monthly. To develop this work, Du Bois drew from his own experiences as an African American in American society. Outside of its notable relevance in African-American history, The Souls of Black Folk also holds an important place in social science as one of the early works…


Book cover of I Can't Wait on God

Lawrence Goldstone Author Of On Account of Race: The Supreme Court, White Supremacy, and the Ravaging of African American Voting Rights

From my list on for white people to learn about Black people.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eight, my mother was called in to see the principal…yet again. He pulled me out of class, stood me in the hall for maximum intimidation value, then said to my mom, “Your son has no respect for authority.” Mom asked, “What about that, Larry?” My reply—and this is totally true—was, “He doesn’t mean respect. He means courtesy. You can demand courtesy, but you have to earn respect.” Those sentiments have not changed, which is why, I suppose, I have an extremely critical eye for history, especially American history, that deifies the winners. I don’t think we make ourselves stronger as a nation by pretending our leaders were somehow not as human in their flaws as the rest of us.  I prefer to look under what is called “conventional wisdom,” because that’s where the real story often lies.

Lawrence's book list on for white people to learn about Black people

Lawrence Goldstone Why did Lawrence love this book?

A brilliant hypnotic novel that almost no one read. Albert French was the victim of a publishing nightmare—his editor and his publisher, both of whom had primed his novel for a major publicity push, left for new jobs before the pub date, after which his book was orphaned and abandoned. For anyone not in the book business, it might seem hard to believe that a terrific novel would be left to languish, but, sadly, such an event is not uncommon in American publishing.

Set in an African American section of Pittsburgh in 1950, I Can’t Wait on God evokes both the day-to-day lives of ordinary people and the striving and hopelessness of African Americans trying to escape the doomed existence to which so many are condemned.  French weaves a tale that is starkly realistic, yet with a mystical overtone that creates a sort of intoxicating haze. The narrative seems straightforward,…

By Albert French,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Can't Wait on God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The crowded joys and familiar despair of poor, back-alley life in 1950 Pittsburgh have a hold on most people there, but there are those who need to escape. Jeremiah Henderson and his woman, Willet Mercer, set their sights on New York City - but making good is easier said than done. Left with no choice but to give in to the pimp who'd like to try Willet on for size before selling her to his clientele, Jeremiah and Willet try to focus on the future. But just before the pimp has his way with her, Willet balks, stabbing him to…


Book cover of Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

Lawrence Goldstone Author Of On Account of Race: The Supreme Court, White Supremacy, and the Ravaging of African American Voting Rights

From my list on for white people to learn about Black people.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eight, my mother was called in to see the principal…yet again. He pulled me out of class, stood me in the hall for maximum intimidation value, then said to my mom, “Your son has no respect for authority.” Mom asked, “What about that, Larry?” My reply—and this is totally true—was, “He doesn’t mean respect. He means courtesy. You can demand courtesy, but you have to earn respect.” Those sentiments have not changed, which is why, I suppose, I have an extremely critical eye for history, especially American history, that deifies the winners. I don’t think we make ourselves stronger as a nation by pretending our leaders were somehow not as human in their flaws as the rest of us.  I prefer to look under what is called “conventional wisdom,” because that’s where the real story often lies.

Lawrence's book list on for white people to learn about Black people

Lawrence Goldstone Why did Lawrence love this book?

Kenneth Mack, a professor at Harvard Law School, has chronicled the lives and careers of a series of African American lawyers, most totally unknown to white America, who, although forced to ply their trade in a legal system that was totally white and aggressively unwelcoming, managed to permanently impact American jurisprudence. Some, like Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall’s mentor, and the founder of the prestigious Howard University Law School, saw their impact ripple out nationally; others, merely by demonstrating competence and dedication, fought bigotry on a more local scale. Each of these men and women was forced to navigate between loyalty to their cause and a willingness to adopt the demeanor and professional skills of their adversaries in order to succeed, leaving them distrusted on both sides of the racial divide. Their willingness to cut themselves adrift, however, set the stage for the great civil rights battles of the second…

By Kenneth W. Mack,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A wonderful excavation of the first era of civil rights lawyering."-Randall L. Kennedy, author of The Persistence of the Color Line

"Ken Mack brings to this monumental work not only a profound understanding of law, biography, history and racial relations but also an engaging narrative style that brings each of his subjects dynamically alive."-Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

Representing the Race tells the story of an enduring paradox of American race relations through the prism of a collective biography of African American lawyers who worked in the era of segregation. Practicing the law and seeking justice for…


Book cover of A Ford Crosses Soviet Russia

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Author Of Soviet Adventures in the Land of the Capitalists: Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip

From my list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American who writes about the history of the Soviet Union, I am constantly trying to understand people separated from me by identity, ideology, language—and time. Applying strategies for empathizing across political, cultural, and linguistic boundaries is, in many ways, the basic task of historical research. At a moment of intense political polarization, the task has become more necessary than ever. My most recent book examines this process by retracing the American journey of two Soviet travelers. Their willingness to laugh at themselves allowed them, at least sometimes, to set aside their presuppositions and see the alien land of the capitalists and the world of socialism anew.

Lisa's book list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Why did Lisa love this book?

In 1929, George Counts, a professor at Columbia Teachers College who was sympathetic to Soviet experiments in education, bought a new Ford, shipped it to Moscow, and braved 10,000 kilometers of mostly unpaved roads to see the Soviet Union, then undertaking a massive industrialization drive.

I was aware that the Soviet highway system was underdeveloped but was nonetheless shocked to learn details like the fact that the Soviet Union had no gas pumps; Counts poured pails of gas into his car through a funnel. His road trip helped me better understand Americans’ optimism about the Soviet project and Soviet visitors’ love of American technology.

By George S. Counts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Ford Crosses Soviet Russia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lang:- eng, Pages 243. Reprinted in 2015 with the help of original edition published long back[1930]. This book is in black & white, Hardcover, sewing binding for longer life with Matt laminated multi-Colour Dust Cover, Printed on high quality Paper, re-sized as per Current standards, professionally processed without changing its contents. As these are old books, there may be some pages which are blur or missing or black spots. If it is multi volume set, then it is only single volume. We expect that you will understand our compulsion in these books. We found this book important for the readers…


Book cover of Little Golden America: Two famous Soviet humorists survey the United States

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Author Of Soviet Adventures in the Land of the Capitalists: Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip

From my list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American who writes about the history of the Soviet Union, I am constantly trying to understand people separated from me by identity, ideology, language—and time. Applying strategies for empathizing across political, cultural, and linguistic boundaries is, in many ways, the basic task of historical research. At a moment of intense political polarization, the task has become more necessary than ever. My most recent book examines this process by retracing the American journey of two Soviet travelers. Their willingness to laugh at themselves allowed them, at least sometimes, to set aside their presuppositions and see the alien land of the capitalists and the world of socialism anew.

Lisa's book list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Why did Lisa love this book?

The humorists Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov’s American travelogue remains a delight to read. Unlike other Soviet visitors, the coauthors, famous for their satirical novel The Twelve Chairs, leavened their criticism of American vulgarity, inequality, racism, and greed with a large helping of self-deprecating wit.

Their account of eating enchiladas, which they described as cut with gunpowder and topped with nitroglycerin, made me laugh out loud. This book offers a surprising view of Depression-era American and Soviet attitudes toward it.  

By Ilya Ilf, Eugene Petrov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Odnoetazhnya Amerika (One-Storied America) First published in the U.S.S.R. 1936. Little Golden America. First published in England in 1944. Translated from the Russian by Charles Malamuth This is one of the most popular books ever published in the Soviet Union. It remains popular in Russia today. We Americans cannot figure out what makes it so popular. It is a good book, interesting and well written, but does not contain anything so outstanding as to make it the most popular book ever written. Yet almost every Russian seems to have read or to be familiar with “Little Golden America”.It describes the…


Book cover of America through Russian Eyes, 1874-1926

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Author Of Soviet Adventures in the Land of the Capitalists: Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip

From my list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American who writes about the history of the Soviet Union, I am constantly trying to understand people separated from me by identity, ideology, language—and time. Applying strategies for empathizing across political, cultural, and linguistic boundaries is, in many ways, the basic task of historical research. At a moment of intense political polarization, the task has become more necessary than ever. My most recent book examines this process by retracing the American journey of two Soviet travelers. Their willingness to laugh at themselves allowed them, at least sometimes, to set aside their presuppositions and see the alien land of the capitalists and the world of socialism anew.

Lisa's book list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Why did Lisa love this book?

This book allows readers to see the United States through the eyes of six visitors from the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. A big part of the collection's appeal is that the authors were not neutral observers but committed socialists. Armed with preconceptions about capitalism, they offer provocative perspectives on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America.

The book includes work by three authors little-known in English translation (Grigory Machet, Vladimir Korolenko, and Vladimir Bogoraz) and travelogues by three famous writers, the novelist Maxim Gorky, who visited in 1906, and the Soviet poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Sergei Esenin, who visited in the 1920s. 

By Olga Peters Hasty, Susanne Fusso (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked America through Russian Eyes, 1874-1926 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To view the familiar from a different perspective is always enlightening. This engaging collection of travel accounts by Russian writers who visited America around the turn of the century offers fresh insights into both the American experience and the Russian mind. The documents, most of which appear in English for the first time, and interwoven with explanatory comments by Olga Peters Hasty and Susanne Fusso.
The anthology begins in 1874 with young Machtet, who enthusiastically describes his journey across the prairie to a tiny utopian community in Kansas. Next Vladimir Korolenko gives his impressions of the stockyards of Chicago, and…


Book cover of In Search of Melancholy Baby

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Author Of Soviet Adventures in the Land of the Capitalists: Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip

From my list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American who writes about the history of the Soviet Union, I am constantly trying to understand people separated from me by identity, ideology, language—and time. Applying strategies for empathizing across political, cultural, and linguistic boundaries is, in many ways, the basic task of historical research. At a moment of intense political polarization, the task has become more necessary than ever. My most recent book examines this process by retracing the American journey of two Soviet travelers. Their willingness to laugh at themselves allowed them, at least sometimes, to set aside their presuppositions and see the alien land of the capitalists and the world of socialism anew.

Lisa's book list on Russians and Americans misunderstanding one another

Lisa A. Kirschenbaum Why did Lisa love this book?

In 1980, the novelist Vassily Aksyonov, whose hipster characters loved rock’n’roll and all things American, fell afoul of the Soviet state; stripped of his Soviet citizenship while in the United States, he decided to stay.

His memoir chronicles his efforts to make sense of a country that often failed to match his idealized preconceptions. Like Ilf and Petrov, whose travelogue was one of his points of reference, Aksyonov undertook a road trip from New York to California and back.

He was sometimes overawed by American technology, critical of American cultural vacuity, and able to laugh at his own disorientation. His first thought when he saw rats in Washington, DC, was that they must be pets, maybe gerbils.    

By Vassily Aksyonov, Antonina W. Bouis (translator), Michael H. Heim (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Search of Melancholy Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian author offers an affectionate chronicle of life in the United States, with discussions of such topics as the European charm of Washington, D.C., and the American immigration bureaucracy


Book cover of Langston's Train Ride

Lisa Rogers Author Of 16 Words: William Carlos Williams and the Red Wheelbarrow

From my list on biographies to inspire young poets.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love sharing poetry with children! I became inspired to write poetic picture books during my 20-year career as an elementary school librarian. In class, we often read aloud, discussed, and performed poems. My students considered word choices, identified alliteration, metaphor, and simile, and developed a sophisticated vocabulary of “beautiful” words. They delighted in using their senses to write about special places and moments and did research to create and illustrate fact-based poems about people and animals. In exploring poetry and biographies of poets, students found inspiration and used their authentic voices to craft their own funny, engaging, and thoughtful poetry.

Lisa's book list on biographies to inspire young poets

Lisa Rogers Why did Lisa love this book?

If you doubt poetry’s power to sweep you up and bring you to tears, you must read Burleigh’s deep dive into Langston Hughes’ inspiration for his famous poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. You’ll take this story to heart and keep it there. I got the chills from the author’s note, which explains that Burleigh’s goal was to explore “the moment when Langston Hughes came to believe in himself as a writer” – and have that moment inspire others. In vibrant, poetic prose perfect for reading aloud, Burleigh begins with Hughes celebrating his first book.

In a flashback, Hughes, on a train, muses over his personal history. As the train crosses the Mississippi, he reaches further back into his people’s history, until he entwines those strands into one gorgeous, resonant work of art.

By Robert Burleigh, Leonard Jenkins (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Langston's Train Ride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Robert Burleigh's inspiring text captures the magical moment when Langston Hughes came to believe in himself as a writer, as he first wrote "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."

Clackety clack clack clack...
Can you hear the rhythm of the train?
Langston Hughes did. Traveling to see his father in 1920, as he listened to the sounds of the train -- metal on metal, wheels on rails -- Hughes's imagination took flight. On that ride, he was inspired to write his first famous poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."
This picture book tells the story of Langston Hughes's rise to accomplishing…


Book cover of How to Read a Book

Caroline McAlister Author Of John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien

From my list on writers and the strange and magical things that inspired them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an English teacher who is the child of an English teacher. I majored in comparative literature at college and went on to earn a PhD in English Literature. But the experience of reading picture books to my own children was more important to me than any fancy degree. I fell in love with books all over again, with the shape and feel of them, with the fonts, with the way the words sounded out loud, with the way the images extended and commented on the story. “Ah!” I thought, “I should write my own picture book.” So began a long and not so simple journey. I hope my own books foster a love of words, art, and creativity in both adult and child readers.

Caroline's book list on writers and the strange and magical things that inspired them

Caroline McAlister Why did Caroline love this book?

This is not literally a biography of a writer, but an illustrated poem that immerses the reader in the experience of reading. All writers are readers first, and all writers need readers, so that is why I am including it in my list. When I looked at reviews online, many of them complained that the artwork and the script made the book hard to read. I could not disagree more. The writing and the art literally become one in this brilliant mesmerizing book.  I love that Alexander references Langston Hughes reading on a stoop at the beginning. Then he proceeds to the central simile: 

Once you’re comfy,

Peel its gentle skin,

Like you would

A clementine

The color of

Sunrise.

Melissa Sweet’s orange, yellow, and pink collage literally rises from the page. This is a book to savor slowly, to read again, and again, and again.

By Kwame Alexander, Melissa Sweet (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Read a Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A stunning new picture book from Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet! This New York Times bestselling duo has teamed up for the first time to bring you How to Read a Book, a poetic and beautiful journey about the experience of reading.

Find a tree-a

black tupelo or

dawn redwood will do-and

plant yourself.

(It's okay if you prefer a stoop, like Langston Hughes.)

With these words, an adventure begins. Kwame Alexander's evocative poetry and Melissa Sweet's lush artwork come together to take readers on a sensory journey between the pages of a book.

How to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Langston Hughes, poets, and the Soviet Union?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Langston Hughes, poets, and the Soviet Union.

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The Soviet Union Explore 354 books about the Soviet Union