100 books like Mrs. Wiggins

By Mary Monroe,

Here are 100 books that Mrs. Wiggins fans have personally recommended if you like Mrs. Wiggins. 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 Sugar

Suzette Harrison Author Of My Name Is Ona Judge

From my list on portraying African-American historical heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a youthful spirit, but an old soul. Perhaps, that’s why I love African American history and gravitated to Black Studies as my undergraduate degree. My reverence for my ancestors sends me time and again to African-American historical fiction in an effort to connect with our past. Growing up, I was that kid who liked being around my elders and eavesdropping on grown-ups' conversations. Now, I listen to my ancestors as they guide my creativity. I’m an award-winning hybrid author writing contemporary and historical novels, and I value each. Still, it’s those historical characters and tales that snatch me by the hand and passionately urge me to do their bidding. 

Suzette's book list on portraying African-American historical heroines

Suzette Harrison Why did Suzette love this book?

Once upon a time, I was the founder and president of a book club, Literary Ladies Alliance. Many moons ago, LLA chose Sugar as our monthly reading selection. I was absolutely floored by this unlikely, unconventional heroine of the same name as the novel set in a small southern town that wasn’t ready for this seductive storm, i.e. Sugar. I found her shockingly bold and beautifully unapologetic despite her disreputable past and “questionable morals.” She hungered for love, endured dangerous risks and scandal; and yet for me, Sugar moved with an air of voluptuous freedom that captivated my church girl imagination and respect. While Dianne McKinney Whetstone is my favorite author, Sugar is undoubtedly my favorite novel! I’ve read the book twice and would readily devour it again for its captivating journey back in time and its uncharacteristic, boldly unforgettable heroine. 

By Bernice L. McFadden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

20th Anniversary Edition—with a New Foreword by Kimberly Elise

A novel by a critically acclaimed voice in contemporary fiction, praised by Ebony for its “unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the end.”

A young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before. Over sweet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both women's lives—and the life of an entire town.

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with…


Book cover of The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner

Suzette Harrison Author Of My Name Is Ona Judge

From my list on portraying African-American historical heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a youthful spirit, but an old soul. Perhaps, that’s why I love African American history and gravitated to Black Studies as my undergraduate degree. My reverence for my ancestors sends me time and again to African-American historical fiction in an effort to connect with our past. Growing up, I was that kid who liked being around my elders and eavesdropping on grown-ups' conversations. Now, I listen to my ancestors as they guide my creativity. I’m an award-winning hybrid author writing contemporary and historical novels, and I value each. Still, it’s those historical characters and tales that snatch me by the hand and passionately urge me to do their bidding. 

Suzette's book list on portraying African-American historical heroines

Suzette Harrison Why did Suzette love this book?

While the minute details of the plot may have faded, I still recall the feelings Sisterhood left me with, its essence. As the middle of three daughters, sisterhood is highly important to me. Although the women in the book weren’t biologically connected, their bond and unification were definite. I consider our protagonist Bonnie Wilder (despite her own personal challenges), her best friend, Thora, and the women of Blackberry Corner heroic in their efforts to rescue abandoned children—thus, touching on another topic important to me: motherhood. If you like small-town stories with lively, colorful characters, historical references, and a touch of drama dive into The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner. The sense of satisfaction I felt when reading it remains with me still. 

By Andrea Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Filled with compassion, humor, and tenacity in the face of almost insurmountable odds, here is a rich, inspiring tale of friendship and family, sisterhood and mother love . . . and of finding grace where you least expect it. 

Canaan Creek, South Carolina, in the 1950s is a tiny town where the close-knit African-American community is united by long-term friendships and church ties. Bonnie Wilder has lived here, on Blackberry Corner, all her life, and would be content but for her deep desire to have a child. She and her husband Naz cannot conceive, and he refuses to adopt. Even…


Book cover of Miss Ophelia

Suzette Harrison Author Of My Name Is Ona Judge

From my list on portraying African-American historical heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a youthful spirit, but an old soul. Perhaps, that’s why I love African American history and gravitated to Black Studies as my undergraduate degree. My reverence for my ancestors sends me time and again to African-American historical fiction in an effort to connect with our past. Growing up, I was that kid who liked being around my elders and eavesdropping on grown-ups' conversations. Now, I listen to my ancestors as they guide my creativity. I’m an award-winning hybrid author writing contemporary and historical novels, and I value each. Still, it’s those historical characters and tales that snatch me by the hand and passionately urge me to do their bidding. 

Suzette's book list on portraying African-American historical heroines

Suzette Harrison Why did Suzette love this book?

Part coming-of-age story, part slice of adult drama and misbehavior, this book impressed itself on my memory with its deceptive sweetness and heart-wrenching likability. It touches on teenaged pregnancy while examining infidelity stemming from a faulty marriage between a likable man and a bitter woman. I loved its honest examination of problematic, complex relationships—husband to wife, and child to adult. It is beautifully drawn, complex, and definitely on my "Books I can Re-Read Endlessly” list.

By Mary Burnett Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Part coming-of-age story and part slice of life, this is a literary novel about African-Americans in the rural South.

Set in rural Virginia during 1948, Miss Ophelia is a remarkable debut novel that explores the issues of abortion, illegitimacy, adultery, and skin color. Belly Anderson now in the autumn of her life, reminisces about the last summer of her childhood. A strong-willed and free-spirited eleven-year-old, she reluctantly leaves her home in rural Pharaoh and goes to Jamison to help her mean Aunt Rachel recover from surgery. Belly has two reasons for deciding to go to Jamison: She's left alone when…


Book cover of Looking for Hope

Suzette Harrison Author Of My Name Is Ona Judge

From my list on portraying African-American historical heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a youthful spirit, but an old soul. Perhaps, that’s why I love African American history and gravitated to Black Studies as my undergraduate degree. My reverence for my ancestors sends me time and again to African-American historical fiction in an effort to connect with our past. Growing up, I was that kid who liked being around my elders and eavesdropping on grown-ups' conversations. Now, I listen to my ancestors as they guide my creativity. I’m an award-winning hybrid author writing contemporary and historical novels, and I value each. Still, it’s those historical characters and tales that snatch me by the hand and passionately urge me to do their bidding. 

Suzette's book list on portraying African-American historical heroines

Suzette Harrison Why did Suzette love this book?

I’ve always been an avid reader despite not having peer-aged characters who resembled or represented me when I was a child. Fast forward to when my children were little: suddenly, there existed a plethora of African-American children’s literature. With pure delight, I indulged my little ones in magnificent books featuring characters that reflected them. Want to know a secret? I read those books for myself as well as for them. Recently, when finding a young African American girl at the center of Looking for Hope, I felt a delightful connection with my inner child. Make no mistakes. The young protagonist, Hannah “Mouse” Maynard, endures a horrific life event that alters her existence, interrupts her innocence, and thrusts her into a perilous, mature journey that fails to diminish her abiding sweetness. 

By Mbinguni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Grief has a way of cementing our feet to the ground wherever we’re standing when it hits us. It takes hard work to get unstuck from that place, but we have to be willing to dig in.”
 
In this coming of age tale, Mbinguni weaves a narrative about Hannah “Mouse” Maynard and her transformation from a shy, quiet, girl into a strong and assertive woman. 

At 7-years-old, Mouse encounters a tragedy that forces her to face the evils of the world and leave behind everything she’s ever known. With their home destroyed, Mouse and her father travel from Maplewood, Georgia…


Book cover of The Bloody Shirt: Terror After the Civil War

John Poniske Author Of Snakebit: Prelude to War

From my list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in Springfield, Illinois, what is considered Lincoln’s backyard. I grew up fascinated by history, and the Civil War in particular. The trouble was, its racial overtones always bothered me. Later in life, I became a high school history and journalism teacher and turned my interest in historical-based board gaming into a business I called Indulgent Wife Enterprises (because my wife is so incredibly supportive). To date, I have published 30 board games based mostly on American conflicts. When I retired, I began the ambitious project of writing a strongly researched account of the divisions leading up to the Civil War and through to the Reconstruction period that followed. 

John's book list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse

John Poniske Why did John love this book?

Ever since I was a little kid in Springfield, Illinois (Lincoln’s hometown), I found racism hard to understand. Where did it come from? Why is it so rooted in our society?

This book taught me about black dreams, freedom, and rights ravaged by widespread violence and intimidation. I was particularly impressed by General Lewis Merrill, assigned by Grant to prosecute KKK excesses in the northern counties of South Carolina; he was a man who, like me, could not believe the cruel outrages he was told… until he saw them for himself.

By Stephen Budiansky,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Sandrine Bergès Author Of Liberty in Their Names: The Women Philosophers of the French Revolution

From my list on by or about women philosophers you should know.

Why am I passionate about this?

At school I fell in love philosophy. But at university, as I grew older, I started to feel out of place: all the authors we read were men. I loved Plato, but there was something missing. It didn’t occur to me until I was in my thirties to look for women in the history of philosophy! I read Wollstonecraft first, then Olympe de Gouges, and the other women I wrote about in my book, and now I’m looking at women philosophers from the tenth to the nineteenth century. There is a wealth of work by women philosophers out there. Reading their works has made philosophy come alive for me, all over again. 

Sandrine's book list on by or about women philosophers you should know

Sandrine Bergès Why did Sandrine love this book?

Anna Julia Cooper is one of the nineteen and twentieth American philosophers I find most exciting.

Her book, A Voice from the South, is the first feminist book to introduce the idea of intersectionality! She spent her very long lifetime writing about education, women’s rights, racism, and she has a fascinating correspondence with the intellectuals of her time, including W.E.B Dubois.

But until recently getting hold of her writings wasn’t terribly easy, unless you were willing to read online, or had access to a good academic library.

This beautiful and cheap edition is a godsend and everyone should buy it. 

By Anna Julia Cooper, Shirley Moody-Turner (editor), Henry Louis Gates, Jr (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Portable Anna Julia Cooper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of essential writings from the iconic foremother of Black intellectual history, feminism and activism

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper will introduce a new generation of readers to an educator, public intellectual and community activist whose prescient insights and eloquent prose underlie some of the most important developments in modern American intellectual thought and African-American social and political activism.

This volume brings together, for the first time, Anna Julia Cooper's major collection of essays, A Voice from the South, along with several previously unpublished poems, plays, journalism and selected correspondences, including over thirty previously unpublished letters between Anna Julia…


Book cover of A Voice From the South

Helga Varden Author Of Sex, Love, and Gender: A Kantian Theory

From my list on sex, love, and gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor in philosophy, political science, and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), where I live with my wife. I have a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto (Canada), an MA in philosophy from the University of Tromsø (Norway), a MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), and a BA(Hons) in Business Management from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK). One of the most important lessons from my first two degrees was that I love theory (about theories) and, so, those two degrees enabled me to find my way to philosophy, which I have been in love with since. 

Helga's book list on sex, love, and gender

Helga Varden Why did Helga love this book?

I only recently discovered the work of Anna J. Cooper, but I find myself reading and thinking about and with her a lot. She’s not an obvious philosophical love for me in that she never writes about LGBTQIA life and does write about men and women from a relatively conservative, Christian, cis, and straight point of view. However, Cooper gives voice to and insight into the struggles of Black women, and her work helps me, as someone who is both racialized as white and an immigrant to the US, perceive and feel important dimensions of the reality in which I now live.

Thus, in her writings about the things she knows about, I find a friend and a colleague as I’m trying to think about intersectional issues that go beyond the life I know first-personally.

By Anna J. Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Voice From the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book by Anna J. Cooper, A Voice From the South, presents strong ideals supporting racial and gender equality as well as economic progress. It's a forward-thinking narrative that highlights many disparities hindering the African American community.

Anna J. Cooper was an accomplished educator who used her influence to encourage and elevate African Americans. With A Voice From the South, she delivers a poignant analysis of the country's affairs as they relate to Black people, specifically Black women. She stresses the importance of education, which she sees as a great equalizer. Cooper considers it a necessary investment in not…


Book cover of Kindred

Hajar Yazdiha Author Of The Struggle for the People's King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement

From my list on understanding revisionist history politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied forty years of the political misuses of the memory of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement as a sociologist at USC and the daughter of Iranian immigrants who has always been interested in questions of identity and belonging. My interest in civil rights struggles started early, growing up in Virginia, a state that celebrated the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday alongside Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I wanted to understand how revisionist histories could become the mainstream account of the past and how they mattered for the future of democracy.

Hajar's book list on understanding revisionist history politics

Hajar Yazdiha Why did Hajar love this book?

I am, to put it lightly, obsessed with the way Octavia Butler revolutionizes the timescape and invites us to speculate about worlds that could be. In this and so many of her books, her vision of Afrofuturism is one that reminds us that our ancestral pasts and our imagined futures are always connected. 

I thought a lot about the future when I wrote my book, and I share Butler’s conviction that there is collective healing and liberation in revisiting and reimagining the past.

I also love that my neighborhood library in Pasadena is the one Octavia Butler used to frequent!

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Kindred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Parable of the Sower and MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Nebula, and Hugo award winner

The visionary time-travel classic whose Black female hero is pulled through time to face the horrors of American slavery and explores the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.

“I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.”

Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes on her 26th birthday from California, 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slaveowner’s plantation. She soon…


Book cover of Fire On The Mountain

Christopher Brown Author Of Tropic of Kansas

From my list on a second American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began writing speculative fiction because I was fascinated by its potential as a laboratory to imagine the world that could be. It’s a narrative form that allows us to play with revolutionary changes in society without any real people getting hurt. And it compels the author to do the hard work of imagining how others experience life in the real world as well as the imaginary one. The best SF novels balance their speculations with a grounding in the observed world, entertaining us with propulsive wonder while filling our minds with new ideas and fresh perspectives that linger long after we put the book down.

Christopher's book list on a second American Civil War

Christopher Brown Why did Christopher love this book?

The Civil War in this short novel by Bisson, who sadly died in early 2024, is part of the book's backstory. It is set in a 1950s America in which our 1860s Civil War never happened.

In Bisson’s mirror America, Harriet Tubman joined John Brown in his raid on Harper’s Ferry, resulting in a victory for the abolitionists that led to a massive slave uprising in the South, aided by radical Europeans and Mexicans seeking to reclaim territory and ultimately the formation of a new socialist utopia from the former states of the Deep South.

With this bold and radical counterfactual as the backdrop, Bisson uses a chorus of compelling narrations to imagine the more just America that could be—and the struggles it would take to realize it.

By Terry Bisson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fire On The Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presenting an alternative version of African American history, this novel explores what might have happened if John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry had been successful. Chronicling life in a thriving black nation founded by Brown in the former southeastern United States, this dramatic story opens 100 years later, just as Nova Africa is poised to celebrate its first landing of a spacecraft on Mars. The prosperous black state will soon be tested when the granddaughter of John Brown returns from Africa to reunite with her daughter and share with her a secret that will alter their lives forever.


Book cover of The Hidden Wound

Neta Jackson Author Of The Yada Yada Prayer Group

From my list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers.

Why am I passionate about this?

During college, I attended an inner-city black church during the years of the civil rights movement—and it changed the course of my life. My husband and I have lived in diverse neighborhoods and attended multicultural churches for most of our 56 years of marriage, realizing we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters of color. But the biggest influence that caused me to write the Yada Yada Prayer Group novels was/is the prayer group of sisters of color that I’ve been part of for over 25 years. As we spent time together every week for years (!), these sisters helped turn my life and my faith upside down—or maybe “right side up.”

Neta's book list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers

Neta Jackson Why did Neta love this book?

Two people who worked for Wendell Berry’s family when he was a child had a profound effect on his life—“Aunt Georgie” Ashby and Nick Watkins. With the simplicity of their lives birthing profound wisdom, Berry credits them for helping to expose the hidden wound of racism and putting his feet on a path to reject the deeply ingrained racism of his youth. The result is a deeply thoughtful book of reflections and wisdom on the cancer that infects our society and what we must do to lance and heal it—if we will. A “must read” on your bookshelf.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An impassioned, thoughtful, and fearless essay on the effects of racism on the American identity by one of our country’s most humane literary voices.

Acclaimed as “one of the most humane, honest, liberating works of our time” (The Village Voice), The Hidden Wound is a book-length essay about racism and the damage it has done to the identity of our country. Through Berry’s personal experience, he explains how remaining passive in the face of the struggle of racism further corrodes America’s great potential. In a quiet and observant manner, Berry opens up about how his attempt to discuss racism is…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the South, African Americans, and the Deep South?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the South, African Americans, and the Deep South.

The South Explore 179 books about the South
African Americans Explore 735 books about African Americans
The Deep South Explore 15 books about the Deep South