100 books like Song of Solomon

By Toni Morrison,

Here are 100 books that Song of Solomon fans have personally recommended if you like Song of Solomon. 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 The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

Brit Bennett Author Of The Vanishing Half

From my list on being Black in America.

Who am I?

Brit Bennett was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from Stanford University along with an MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her debut novel The Mothers was a New York Times bestseller, and her second novel The Vanishing Half was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and in 2021, she was chosen as one of Time’s Next 100 Influential People. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.

Brit's book list on being Black in America

Brit Bennett Why did Brit love this book?

A fascinating exploration into the lives of three women ignored by history, the mothers of Martin Luther King Jr, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X. By tracing the intellectual, political, and emotional strands of each woman’s life, Anna Malaika Tubbs uncovers hidden complexities within black motherhood that illuminate our understanding of the past while also shedding light on the overlooked contributions of black women today.

By Anna Malaika Tubbs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'A fascinating exploration into the lives of three women ignored by history ... Eye-opening, engrossing'
Brit Bennett, bestselling author of The Vanishing Half

In her groundbreaking debut, Anna Malaika Tubbs tells the incredible storIES of three women who raised three world-changing men.

Much has been written about Berdis Baldwin's son James, about Alberta King's son Martin Luther and Louise Little's son Malcolm. But virtually nothing has been said about the extraordinary women who raised them, each fighting their own battles, born into the beginning of the twentieth century and a deadly landscape of racial prejudice,…


Book cover of Passing

Faith Knight Author Of As Grey As Black and White

From my list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century.

Who am I?

I am the product of biracial parents, and the idea of passing or not has always fascinated me as well as disgusted me. The reasons one would want to pass in this era are much different than the survival aspect my ancestors who passed had to consider in the 19th century. In writing my YA historical novels, being biracial always enters in, no matter the topic, because it is who I am and, in the end, always rears its head for consideration.

Faith's book list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century

Faith Knight Why did Faith love this book?

I’ve read this book several times and saw the 2021 film. This is the quintessential novel on how skin color can affect one's choices in life as well as the life one is relegated to.

It made me really contemplate how someone can move from one world to another with either no concern (as in the case of Clare) or major angst, as in the case of Irene.

I loved this book because the struggles were real, and the end was unexpected.

By Nella Larsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic, brilliant and layered novel that has been at the heart of racial identity discourse in America for almost a century.

Clare Kendry leads a dangerous life. Fair, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a white man unaware of her African American heritage and has severed all ties to her past. Clare's childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, but refuses to acknowledge the racism that continues to constrict her family's happiness. A chance encounter forces both women to confront the lies they have told others - and the…


Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ginger Pinholster Author Of Snakes of St. Augustine

From my list on featuring Florida in a big way.

Who am I?

My second novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, describes an unconventional love story served up with a large side of Florida weirdness. My first novel, City in a Forest, received a Gold Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. My short fiction and essays have appeared in Pangyrus, Eckerd Review, Northern Virginia Review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. I earned my bachelor’s degree in English from Eckerd College and the M.F.A. in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Currently, I’m a writer for a university in Daytona Beach, Florida. A resident of Ponce Inlet, I began volunteering with the Volusia-Flagler Sea Turtle Patrol in 2018.

Ginger's book list on featuring Florida in a big way

Ginger Pinholster Why did Ginger love this book?

Anyone interested in literature featuring Florida must read Hurston’s enduring master work.

The novel describes Janie Crawford’s coming-of-age journey, especially in Eatonville, Florida, which became one of the nation’s first all-black cities, incorporated in 1887. Janie, a child of slavery and rape, flees an oppressive arranged marriage, and later, she survives abusive lovers. Originally published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God challenged gender stereotypes and presented a strong black female protagonist.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the novel is Hurston’s use of the Florida setting to both set the mood and drive plot choices. When protagonist Janie escapes violence, she flees the Panhandle for the more secluded, dense wilderness of Central Florida. There, complex waterways follow the characters’ various movements.

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Their Eyes Were Watching God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cover design by Harlem renaissance artist Lois Mailou Jones

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece…


Book cover of Salvage the Bones

Amy Rowland Author Of Inside the Wolf

From my list on understanding the American South.

Who am I?

I’m from North Carolina, and Inside the Wolf is the first book I’ve written about the American South. For a long time, I resisted writing about my home state. I moved to New York and tried to write elegant New York stories. But writing is thinking for me, and I had to think through some of the stories and memories and hauntings of my youth. The books on this list have made me want to keep doing it

Amy's book list on understanding the American South

Amy Rowland Why did Amy love this book?

Salvage the Bones was the first Jesmyn Ward book I read, and I fell for 14-year-old Esch, who loves Greek myths and a boy named Manny. Set in the days before Hurricane Katrina, Esch and her beloved brothers live young lives full of – well, full lives, that’s the point. 

Ward told the Paris Review about living through Hurricane Katrina, “I saw an entire town demolished, people fighting over water, breaking open caskets searching for something that could help them survive. I realized that if I was going to assume the responsibility of writing about my home, I needed narrative ruthlessness. I couldn’t dull the edges and fall in love with my characters and spare them. Life does not spare us.”

Ward is an electrifying writer, and Salvage the Bones is an American classic. 

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Salvage the Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ 'A brilliantly pacy adventure story ... Ward writes like a dream' - The Times 'Fresh and urgent' - New York Times 'There's something of Faulkner to Ward's grand diction' - Guardian _______________ WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD Hurricane Katrina is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. He's a hard drinker, largely absent, and it isn't often he worries about the family. Esch and her three brothers are stockpiling food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets;…


Book cover of On Death & Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy & Their Own Families

Hari Ziyad Author Of Black Boy Out of Time

From my list on loss and grief from a certified death doula.

Who am I?

As a journalist, author and screenwriter, my work has always pondered loss and grief. I think this has something to do with the fact that of my mother’s religion; she was a convert to Hinduism and started conversations about the inevitability of death and how the soul and the body aren’t the same when us children were at a very young age. It probably also has something to do with the constant presence of death within my family and communities as a Black and queer person in a violently anti-Black and queerantagonistic world. I currently volunteer at a hospice, and provide community-building programming to death workers from diverse communities.

Hari's book list on loss and grief from a certified death doula

Hari Ziyad Why did Hari love this book?

A quintessential text of death and dying research, this incredibly insightful and compassionate exploration shines a blaring light on all of the hidden contours of a topic we often shy away from.

You’ll almost certainly come away from these pages with a new understanding of the stages of grief (they probably don’t refer to what you were taught they refer) and the importance of honesty and connection when facing mortality. It's an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to better comprehend the human experience.

By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked On Death & Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The five stages of grief, first formulated in this hugely influential work forty years ago, are now part of our common understanding of bereavement. The five stages were first identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her work with dying patients at the University of Chicago and were considered phases that all or most people went through, when faced with the prospect of their own death. They are now often accepted as a response to any major life change.

However, in spite of these terms being in general use, the subject of death is still surrounded…


Book cover of Simple Justice: The History of Brown V. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality

Claudia Smith Brinson Author Of Stories of Struggle: The Clash over Civil Rights in South Carolina

From my list on revealing what is hidden, lost, forgotten.

Who am I?

I lived in sixteen places by the time I was twenty-two. A peripatetic youth may teach you that different is interesting, that stereotypes don’t hold, that the emperor has no clothes. When I moved South and worked as a journalist, I found black elders’ stories so different from the official stories of white authorities. Horrified that these men and women would die with their heroism untold, I interviewed more than 150 black activists for Stories of Struggle. I want to know what is missing; I want it found. Like a detective, an anthropologist, a scientist, and yes, a journalist, I want to know, and I want others to know.

Claudia's book list on revealing what is hidden, lost, forgotten

Claudia Smith Brinson Why did Claudia love this book?

Monumental, extraordinary, a landmark: only superlatives would do in 1975 to praise Simple Justice by Richard Kluger.

If you want to understand education in America, race in America, the absence of equity in America, Simple Justice gets you there. The book begins with the South Carolina heroes of Briggs v. Elliott, impoverished rural petitioners who filed the first of five lawsuits composing Brown v. Board of Education. The book ends with the 1954 and 1955 US Supreme Court’s decisions declaring unconstitutional the legal segregation of public schools.

Kluger focuses on people, beginning with tenant farmers and sharecroppers who defied the white men controlling their every breath and petitioned for “equal everything.” Kluger’s vivid storytelling was among my inspirations, forty years after Brown, to seek South Carolina’s forgotten heroes. 

By Richard Kluger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Simple Justice is generally regarded as the classic account of the U.S. Supreme Court's epochal decision outlawing racial segregation and the centerpiece of African-Americans' ongoing crusade for equal justice under law.

The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought centuries of legal segregation in this country to an end. It was and remains, beyond question, one of the truly significant events in American history, "probably the most important American government act of any kind since the Emancipation Proclamation," in the view of constitutional scholar Louis H. Pollak. The Brown decision climaxed along, torturous…


Book cover of Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household

Claudia Smith Brinson Author Of Stories of Struggle: The Clash over Civil Rights in South Carolina

From my list on revealing what is hidden, lost, forgotten.

Who am I?

I lived in sixteen places by the time I was twenty-two. A peripatetic youth may teach you that different is interesting, that stereotypes don’t hold, that the emperor has no clothes. When I moved South and worked as a journalist, I found black elders’ stories so different from the official stories of white authorities. Horrified that these men and women would die with their heroism untold, I interviewed more than 150 black activists for Stories of Struggle. I want to know what is missing; I want it found. Like a detective, an anthropologist, a scientist, and yes, a journalist, I want to know, and I want others to know.

Claudia's book list on revealing what is hidden, lost, forgotten

Claudia Smith Brinson Why did Claudia love this book?

Out of the House of Bondage destroys the myth of the Southern plantation mistress as a delicate, gentle being presiding over a household maintained by passive, devoted, enslaved women.

A professor of history and law at Duke University, Thavolia Glymph scoured female slaveholders’ diaries and enslaved and freed people’s narratives to expose the mistresses’ use of violence – cowhide whippings, “until she was just a piece of living raw meat”; burning with hot irons, “hot enough to take off flesh”; beating to death a crying baby – and enslaved women’s resistance, perceived then and described later as laziness, misbehavior, and insubordination.

Glymph’s uncovering of abuse upsets a familiar false narrative, dismantling previous scholarship and exposing white women’s use of violence to assert power. A seeker of missing voices and lost stories, I am deeply interested in what has been ignored, misinterpreted, or omitted.

By Thavolia Glymph,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The plantation household was, first and foremost, a site of production. This fundamental fact has generally been overshadowed by popular and scholarly images of the plantation household as the source of slavery's redeeming qualities, where 'gentle' mistresses ministered to 'loyal' slaves. This book recounts a very different story. The very notion of a private sphere, as divorced from the immoral excesses of chattel slavery as from the amoral logic of market laws, functioned to conceal from public scrutiny the day-to-day struggles between enslaved women and their mistresses, subsumed within a logic of patriarchy. One of emancipation's unsung consequences was precisely…


Book cover of The Color Purple

Hari Ziyad Author Of Black Boy Out of Time

From my list on loss and grief from a certified death doula.

Who am I?

As a journalist, author and screenwriter, my work has always pondered loss and grief. I think this has something to do with the fact that of my mother’s religion; she was a convert to Hinduism and started conversations about the inevitability of death and how the soul and the body aren’t the same when us children were at a very young age. It probably also has something to do with the constant presence of death within my family and communities as a Black and queer person in a violently anti-Black and queerantagonistic world. I currently volunteer at a hospice, and provide community-building programming to death workers from diverse communities.

Hari's book list on loss and grief from a certified death doula

Hari Ziyad Why did Hari love this book?

This novel is a soul-stirring journey of resilience and self-discovery.

Reminding us that loss of connection to a loved one shares many of the same aspects as death, The Color Purple is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, particularly in the face of adversity. Along the way, you’ll come to a deeper understanding of gendered violence, the healing power of sisterhood and the enduring nature of love.

By Alice Walker,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Color Purple as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker's iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug…


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.

Who am I?

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 Daisy Jones & The Six

Phyllis R. Dixon Author Of Intermission

From my list on Books on musicians for those fascinated with musical history.

Who am I?

I love music and books about the music industry. Fiction or nonfiction–the drama of a musician’s rise and efforts to sustain a career never gets old to me. I can relate to their determination to make a living doing something they love. Also, as a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, I’m fascinated by the musical history here and often meet people that had ties to the music industry and are now “regular people.” My latest novel Intermission is about a singing group. I’ve read numerous books in this genre, from Motown bios to the five listed. What a great way to combine my two favorite things–music and books!

Phyllis' book list on Books on musicians for those fascinated with musical history

Phyllis R. Dixon Why did Phyllis love this book?

This is a novel about the evolution of a 1970s rock band, that is told primarily in flashbacks. Musical groups thriving and breaking up is a common story plot, and you forget this is fiction (although many have drawn parallels to Fleetwood Mac).

Because the story seems real, you feel like you are privy to inside scoop about their personalities, interpersonal relationships, and the music industry. This is a juicy story and you are sad when it ends, not because it’s a sad story but because it’s so good you want more.

By Taylor Jenkins Reid,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Daisy Jones & The Six as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SOON TO BE AN AMAZON PRIME TV SERIES STARRING SAM CLAFLIN, RILEY KEOUGH AND CAMILA MORRONE

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the author of THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO and the bestselling MALIBU RISING

'I LOVE it . . . I can't remember the last time I read a book that was so fun' DOLLY ALDERTON

Everybody knows Daisy Jones and the Six.

From the moment Daisy walked barefoot on to the stage at the Whisky, she and the band were a sensation.

Their sound defined an era. Their albums were on every turntable. They…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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