100 books like The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Here are 100 books that The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction fans have personally recommended if you like The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction. 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 On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

James Phelps Author Of Australia's Most Infamous Jail: Inside the walls of Pentridge Prison

From my list on getting any writer started in the industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about this book list because it helped me get where I am today, a multiple-times bestselling author and an award-winning senior reporter. I began working as an overnight police round reporter before moving into sports, where I became one of Australia's best news-breaking rugby league journalists. I was then appointed News Corp Australia's Chief National Motorsports Writer and traveled the world chasing Formula 1 story, as well as covering Australia's V8 Supercar races. Everyone has to start somewhere, and for me, this list of books helped me begin and continue to grow to reach the level of success that I have.

James' book list on getting any writer started in the industry

James Phelps Why did James love this book?

It’s 2005, and it’s my first day at The Daily Telegraph. I still couldn’t believe they had hired me as a cadet journalist. The smile I was wearing–from ear to ear–suddenly vanished when the Chief of Staff walked over and said, ‘Phelpsy, a bus has just crashed in Egypt. We have been told that there may have been some Australian tourists on board. Punch out 500 words and give it to me in an hour.’ 

I turned to my computer screen, looked down at my keyboard, and suddenly realized that I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never had any writing training, and my experience was limited to the gibber I had been submitting to the paper (for free) for the past year in the hope of landing a job. After ten minutes of writing a word or two, deleting them, and then doing it again, I…

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked On Writing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twentieth Anniversary Edition with Contributions from Joe Hill and Owen King

ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S TOP 100 NONFICTION BOOKS OF ALL TIME

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the…


Book cover of The Elements of Style

Randall H. Duckett Author Of Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing: 41 How-To Tips for Creators

From my list on learning how to write effectively.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love language and its power to inform, inspire, and influence. As I wrote Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing, I researched what others have said about writing well and honed it down to these resources, which I quote. During my decades as a journalist and marketer, I developed and edited scores of publications, books, and websites. I also co-wrote two travel guides—100 Secrets of the Smokies and 100 Secrets of the Carolina Coast. I’ve written for such publications as National Geographic Traveler and AARP: The Magazine. A father of three women, I live in Springfield, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, with my wife, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. 

Randall's book list on learning how to write effectively

Randall H. Duckett Why did Randall love this book?

This book is old, like early 1900s. It was first drafted by William Strunk, Jr., who distributed a version to his students at Columbia University in 1919. E.B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web) modernized it in the ’50s. It went on to sell millions of copies and become one of the most influential guides to English. Why the history lesson? Because it’s remarkable how relevant it remains in 2022. It can feel dusty and literary, but it offers nuggets of wisdom like “omit needless words” that influence writers like me today. I shamelessly ripped off the concept of “elements” for my book. The “little book” is short—the fourth edition is 42 pages—but mighty. It deserves a spot on your physical or virtual bookshelf.    

By William Strunk, E.B. White,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Elements of Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You know the authors' names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book's unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of "the little book" to make a big impact with writing.


Book cover of Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process

Randall H. Duckett Author Of Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing: 41 How-To Tips for Creators

From my list on learning how to write effectively.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love language and its power to inform, inspire, and influence. As I wrote Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing, I researched what others have said about writing well and honed it down to these resources, which I quote. During my decades as a journalist and marketer, I developed and edited scores of publications, books, and websites. I also co-wrote two travel guides—100 Secrets of the Smokies and 100 Secrets of the Carolina Coast. I’ve written for such publications as National Geographic Traveler and AARP: The Magazine. A father of three women, I live in Springfield, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, with my wife, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. 

Randall's book list on learning how to write effectively

Randall H. Duckett Why did Randall love this book?

Just as King is a master of fiction, the late, great John McPhee is a nonfiction master. He gained fame as staff writer for The New Yorker, then authored dozens of books on such diverse subjects as fishing, geology, and transportation. (Trust me: His fascinating novel-like prose is more engaging, enlightening, and enrapturing than those topics imply.) In 1999, he finally won a well-deserved General Nonfiction Pulitzer on his fourth try. In this treatise on writing well, McPhee offers insight into his craft, including diagrams of story structure he shared with journalism students at Princeton. The book appeals to my logical side; in my book I say I see writing as like building with Legos, putting together one colorful block at a time to eventually form a 7,541-piece Millennium Falcon. 

By John McPhee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Draft No. 4 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Draft No. 4 is a master class on the writer's craft. In a series of playful, expertly wrought essays, John McPhee shares insights he has gathered over his career and has refined while teaching at Princeton University, where he has nurtured some of the most esteemed writers of recent decades. McPhee offers definitive guidance in the decisions regarding arrangement, diction, and tone that shape non fiction pieces, and he presents extracts from his work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. In one essay, he considers the delicate art of getting sources to tell you what they might not otherwise reveal. In…


Book cover of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Randall H. Duckett Author Of Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing: 41 How-To Tips for Creators

From my list on learning how to write effectively.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love language and its power to inform, inspire, and influence. As I wrote Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing, I researched what others have said about writing well and honed it down to these resources, which I quote. During my decades as a journalist and marketer, I developed and edited scores of publications, books, and websites. I also co-wrote two travel guides—100 Secrets of the Smokies and 100 Secrets of the Carolina Coast. I’ve written for such publications as National Geographic Traveler and AARP: The Magazine. A father of three women, I live in Springfield, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, with my wife, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. 

Randall's book list on learning how to write effectively

Randall H. Duckett Why did Randall love this book?

When Lynne Truss wrote this book around the turn of the new century, she thought it would be just for grammar nerds. It turned out people care about commas and millions of copies were sold. In the book, Truss doesn’t explain her title, but I will. The cover illustration features a panda, which eats shoots and leaves—as in bamboo and its vegetation. The title, though, is mispunctuated to say the bear first eats, shoots (as with a gun), then leaves the crime scene. Truss offers advice on using apostrophes, semi-colons, em dashes—my favorite—and other marks. Like many writers, I struggle with proper placement of possessives and pauses. Truss taught me a lot about how to best employ punctuation and not to use parentheses and periods to type boobs. 

By Lynne Truss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eats, Shoots & Leaves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anxious about the apostrophe? Confused by the comma? Stumped by the semicolon? Join Lynne Truss on a hilarious tour through the rules of punctuation that is sure to sort the dashes from the hyphens.

We all had the basic rules of punctuation drilled into us at school, but punctuation pedants have good reason to suspect they never sank in. 'Its Summer!' screams a sign that sets our teeth on edge. 'Pansy's ready', we learn to our considerable interest ('Is she?') as we browse among the bedding plants.

It is not only the rules of punctuation that have come under attack…


Book cover of A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream

Susan Coryell Author Of Kiki's Dream

From my list on that show young children to dream for themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

My expertise and passion for the theme of children’s dreams for themselves and how they achieve them began with reading wonderful children’s picture books to my kids and grandkids when they were very young. After writing one young adult novel and four cozy mysteries for adults, I realize my true calling as a writer is to create books that little readers will not only love but return to again and again to reinforce their own dreams and sense of worth as well as awareness of others. Many picture books dwell on what elders dream for their children rather than what young ones wish for themselves.

Susan's book list on that show young children to dream for themselves

Susan Coryell Why did Susan love this book?

This book brought tears to my eyes as a little girl living in Harlem in the 1950s dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina in a time where “colored” dancers were not allowed to perform on stage.

Each night she wished upon a star that her dream would come true, though it seemed highly unlikely. I felt for this child whose dream her society strove to deny. I cheered her path to gradual acceptance in the ballet school.

By Kristy Dempsey, Floyd Cooper (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dance Like Starlight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A story of little ballerinas with big dreams.

Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.
 
But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star.
 
In a lyrical…


Book cover of True to the Game

Kai Storm Author Of That One Voice

From my list on fiction novels that will make you believe they’re real.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Kai Storm, author of reality-based urban fiction and erotica, erotica blogger, YouTuber, and Podcaster. I love reading books that feel real, that make you feel, and that teach you something as they entertain you.

Kai's book list on fiction novels that will make you believe they’re real

Kai Storm Why did Kai love this book?

The main characters in this book were the first relationship goals for me as a teenager. I loved their relationship; the story flow was vividly in my mind as I read it.

I really shouldn’t have seen the movie because often, it doesn’t follow the same storyline, but I will forever love this book and love the main characters' relationship. It was and still is golden to me.

By Teri Woods,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's the late 1980s and Gena, a young girl from the projects, meets Quadir, a millionaire drug dealer and falls madly in love. Quadir builds a massive empire while fighting off his rivals and enemies. Gena faces the challenge of holding on to her man, her house, her car and the cash. Both of them find themselves caught up in a vicious yet seductive world and learn that success in this game is no easy win. Gena and Quadir also learn that once you're in there's no way out 'cause everyone stays in Forever...


Book cover of Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir

Jenny Jaeckel Author Of Eighteen

From my list on coming-of-age stories by diverse women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jenny Jaeckel is the award-winning author and illustrator of several books including her historical fiction companion novels House of Rougeaux and Boy, Falling, a collection of illustrated short fiction entitled For the Love of Meat, and the graphic novel memoir Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU. She has a special passion for coming-of-age stories for their power in capturing the stories of life that are the most specific and most vivid. When not writing, Jaeckel works as an editor and translator. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, with her family. Eighteen is her third novel. 

Jenny's book list on coming-of-age stories by diverse women

Jenny Jaeckel Why did Jenny love this book?

Like all the young girls in this shortlist of coming-of-age stories, Ashley C. Ford (one of Angelou’s literary children) is a survivor hell-bent on finding a life better than the one she was handed, and, like the others, she is remarkably sensitive, imaginative, and able to paint her world for us in the most tender and unique shapes and colors. How does a young girl weather such brutal realities, experience beauty, and splice together a space for her soul? Ford’s memoir is one such contemporary story. 

By Ashley C. Ford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Somebody's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NBCC John Leonard Prize Finalist
Indie Bestseller

“This is a book people will be talking about forever.” —Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed

“Ford’s wrenchingly brilliant memoir is truly a classic in the making. The writing is so richly observed and so suffused with love and yearning that I kept forgetting to breathe while reading it.” —John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author

One of the most prominent voices of her generation debuts with an extraordinarily powerful memoir: the story of a childhood defined by the looming absence of her…


Book cover of Gone Missing in Harlem

G.P. Gottlieb Author Of Charred: A Whipped and Sipped Mystery

From my list on fabulous historical mysteries set in American cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read at least 100 books each year, mostly novels, and before I became a published author in 2019, used to send a list of my favorite 30 to hundreds of friends, friends of friends, and family. I began hosting New Books in Literature, a podcast channel on the New Books Network, in 2018, and have interviewed over 180 authors so far. It was tough to choose just 5 top books, but in looking over all those interviews, I remembered how much I loved reading these books, all set in the United States long before the 21st century.

G.P.'s book list on fabulous historical mysteries set in American cities

G.P. Gottlieb Why did G.P. love this book?

This novel about an African American family struggling to survive in early 20th century America touches upon many things, including African American soldiers coming home from WWI, the Great Migration north, and the world of 1930s Harlem.

It’s historical literary fiction and a mystery, but it’s ultimately a stunning novel about the lengths a mother will go to protect her family. Holloway is emerita professor of English and Law at Duke University, and I loved talking to her about her retirement career as an author!

By Karla FC Holloway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gone Missing in Harlem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her anticipated second novel, Karla Holloway evokes the resilience of a family whose journey traces the river of America's early twentieth century. The Mosby family, like other thousands, migrate from the loblolly-scented Carolinas north to the Harlem of their aspirations-with its promise of freedom and opportunities, sunlit boulevards, and elegant societies.

The family arrives as Harlem staggers under the flu pandemic that follows the First World War. DeLilah Mosby and her daughter, Selma, meet difficulties with backbone and resolve to make a home for themselves in the city, and Selma has a baby, Chloe. As the Great Depression creeps…


Book cover of Lizzie Demands a Seat! Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights

Mara Rockliff Author Of Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

From my list on civil rights heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a children’s author best known for digging up fascinating stories about famous people—and forgotten people who deserve to be famous again. As a kid, I loved reading about the old days, but I wasn’t very interested in “history,” which seemed to be dull facts about a few Great Men. In college, though, I studied social movements and discovered that we all make history together, and that it takes the combined efforts of countless unsung heroes—just as brave, hardworking, and persistent as the big names everybody knows—to achieve real change. 

Mara's book list on civil rights heroes

Mara Rockliff Why did Mara love this book?

More than a century before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, sparking the Montgomery bus boycott, a schoolteacher named Elizabeth Jennings did the same on a streetcar in New York City. Her act of courage didn’t lead to a mass movement, but it did lead to a court case—which she won with the help of her lawyer, future U.S. president Chester A. Arthur.

I chose this book because it’s so important to recall that segregation wasn’t only in the South, and that the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s built on a long history of resistance going back to the first slave ships that arrived on America’s shores.

By Beth Anderson, E.B. Lewis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lizzie Demands a Seat! Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book
ILA Children's Book Award Nonfiction Honor
Winner of Bank Street College of Education's Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for excellence in nonfiction
Chicago Public Library Best Informational Book for Older Readers
Shortlist for inaugural Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice 
Finalist, Jane Addams Children’s Book Award

In 1854, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jennings, an African American schoolteacher, fought back when she was unjustly denied entry to a New York City streetcar, sparking the beginnings of the long struggle to gain equal rights on public transportation.

One hundred years before Rosa Parks took her stand,…


Book cover of Talk with You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935

Douglas Flowe Author Of Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men and Criminality in Jim Crow New York

From my list on race, crime, and American imprisonment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Associate professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis who is primarily interested in crime, illicit leisure, masculinity, American cities, and imprisonment. I grew up both in New York City and Orlando, Florida, and I received a PhD from the University of Rochester. Most of the books I read have to do with understanding the American criminal justice system, criminality itself, and the part societies play in constructing crime. Currently I am researching and writing a book about African American men and the carceral state, tentatively entitled Jim Crow Prison.  

Douglas' book list on race, crime, and American imprisonment

Douglas Flowe Why did Douglas love this book?

I first read Hick’s history of black women in New York’s criminal justice system while I was in graduate school, and I was fascinated by how she brought stories to life in a city I was so familiar with.

Along with Kali Gross’s Colored Amazons, which looks at black women in Philadelphia, it inspired me to imagine what a similar study on black men could look like.

Hicks masterful use of the New York State prison archives and her attention to the details in the lives of the women in her work makes this an essential book for anyone interested in race, gender, and the carceral state. 

By Cheryl D. Hicks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Talk with You Like a Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With this book, Cheryl Hicks brings to light the voices and viewpoints of black working-class women, especially southern migrants, who were the subjects of urban and penal reform in early-twentieth-century New York. Hicks compares the ideals of racial uplift and reform programs of middle-class white and black activists to the experiences and perspectives of those whom they sought to protect and, often, control. In need of support as they navigated the discriminatory labor and housing markets and contended with poverty, maternity, and domestic violence, black women instead found themselves subject to hostility from black leaders, urban reformers, and the police.…


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