10 books like The Bondwoman's Narrative

By Hannah Crafts,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Bondwoman's Narrative. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Sojourner Truth

By Nell Irvin Painter,

Book cover of Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol

Nell Painter’s biography of Sojourner Truth breaks new ground in a different way. Sojourner Truth is famous, an iconic freedom fighter and advocate for Black and female suffrage. We all know her demand for recognition, “Ain’t I a woman?” Or do we? Painter’s research reveals a much more complicated woman and investigates why history has reduced a fascinating life story to that one simple question, which might never have been asked, at least in those precise words. Read this book to find out the true story of Sojourner Truth.  

Sojourner Truth

By Nell Irvin Painter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sojourner Truth first gained prominence at an 1851 Akron, Ohio, women's rights conference, saying, "Dat man over dar say dat woman needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches. . . . Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles . . . and ar'n't I a woman?"

Sojourner Truth: ex-slave and fiery abolitionist, figure of imposing physique, riveting preacher and spellbinding singer who dazzled listeners with her wit and originality. Straight-talking and unsentimental, Truth became a national symbol for strong black women--indeed, for all strong women. Like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, she is regarded as…


Harriet Tubman

By Catherine Clinton,

Book cover of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom

This non-fiction book is giving Harriet Tubman the recognition she deserves. She was a hero in the true sense, who lived a life of service to others, and truly helped change the world. We have all heard of her, but few know who she really was, how much she did, and how incredibly brave she was.

Sometimes when I’m having a hard time, I think of how much she did all by herself, literally walking alone into enemy territory to save others, and leading an army of men. I could never compare myself to her, but thinking of her inspires me and gives me courage. 

Harriet Tubman

By Catherine Clinton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Harriet Tubman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most important and enduring figures in the history of 19th century America, the legendary conductor on the Underground Railroad whose courageous exploits have been described in countless books for young readers, is here revealed for the first time as a singular and complex character, a woman who defied simple categorisation. |In this, the first major biography of Harriet Tubman in more than 100 years, we see the heroine of children's books and biopics with a new clarity and richness of detail.| - Time


Complete Writings

By Phillis Wheatley,

Book cover of Complete Writings

In 1761, the slave ship Phillis departed from Africa and headed toward America. Among the human cargo was a young girl. Judging by her missing incisors, she was seven or eight years old. Soon after the ship’s arrival in Boston, John and Susann Wheatley purchased the girl and named her after the ship that had delivered her to them. Mrs. Wheatley taught their servant to read and write and introduced her to classical and English literature, including revered poets. Around 1765, Phillis began writing poetry, and her first poem, “On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin,” published in 1767, when she was only about fourteen years old, rendered her the first black person in America to publish a poem. Carretta’s collection of Wheatley’s work includes a fascinating, thoroughly researched introduction.

Complete Writings

By Phillis Wheatley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The extraordinary writings of Phillis Wheatley, a slave girl turned published poet

In 1761, a young girl arrived in Boston on a slave ship, sold to the Wheatley family, and given the name Phillis Wheatley. Struck by Phillis' extraordinary precociousness, the Wheatleys provided her with an education that was unusual for a woman of the time and astonishing for a slave. After studying English and classical literature, geography, the Bible, and Latin, Phillis published her first poem in 1767 at the age of 14, winning much public attention and considerable fame. When Boston publishers who doubted its authenticity rejected an…


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

By Harriet Jacobs,

Book cover of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Jacobs’ emotionally compelling book is arguably the most well-known slave narrative written by a woman. Published in 1861, under the pseudonym Linda Brent, this intimate memoir played an important role in the antislavery movement. Nineteen-century readers were moved, as are readers today, by the story of a young woman so determined to avoid the sexual advances of her enslaver that, for seven years, she hides in her grandmother’s coffin-like attic from which she secretly watches from afar her two children at play. The narrative ends on a cautiously hopeful note. When Jacobs finally escapes from North Carolina, she is able to spend time with her children in New York City and Boston, but she is still enslaved.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

By Harriet Jacobs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true story of an individual's struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.
Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs' harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave…


The Hemingses of Monticello

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Book cover of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Gordon-Reed’s 1997 book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, was a paradigm-shifting landmark that examined the different ways that historians had used the existing evidence for a relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings, a woman he enslaved. The next year DNA testing confirmed a genetic link between Jefferson and one of Hemings’s children. In The Hemingses of Monticello, Annette Gordon-Reed provides the most complete study we have of the many complicated relationships between the Hemings and Jefferson families.

It is a beautifully written, deeply-researched account that demonstrates, among other things, the degree to which slavery imprecated all aspects of Jefferson’s life. Most importantly, Gordon-Reed centers the Hemings family, not just Sally, in this book. We see them playing key roles in many aspects of life at Monticello making Jefferson’s mountaintop home was their mountaintop home. This is the book I recommend to everyone interested in Jefferson…

The Hemingses of Monticello

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This epic work-named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times-tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family's dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826.


North Carolina Legends

By Richard Walser,

Book cover of North Carolina Legends

Richard Walser, in his book North Carolina Legends, covers forty-eight of the state’s legends in this easy-to-read and enjoyable book. From the mountains to the coast, Walser describes how Joe Baldwin lost his head while trying to save two trains from crashing into one another at Maco Station and why a particular spot in Chatham County is thought to be the devil’s tramping ground. Walser’s short tales are the perfect read at a sleepover or during a night around the campfire. They are without a doubt tales that will be enjoyed time and time again.

North Carolina Legends

By Richard Walser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

North Carolina is a place where history has been enriched by legends and folklore. The 48 colorful Tar Heel tales in this volume include such well-known stories as "Virginia Dare and the White Doe" and "Old Dan Tucker" and such lesser known yarns as "The Portrait of Theodosia Burr" and "Bladenboro's Vamire Beast." Striking drawings by Bill Ballard, one for each tale, bring North Carolina's mythical past to life.


A Barefoot Tide

By Grace Greene,

Book cover of A Barefoot Tide

Grace Greene writes the ultimate “beach read”—endearing characters, descriptions that put you right there at oceanside, and a poignant blend of emotion and humor. I love how Lilliane, the heroine, discovers courage she never thought she had. A temporary job as a live-in caregiver begins merely as a way to earn money for much-needed home repairs. But her stay in Emerald Isle, NC, becomes a life-changer, not only for her but for the elderly gentleman who soon becomes both friend and mentor. It’s a book about stepping out of your comfort zone and opening your heart to new possibilities no matter your age. And if this novel stirs your heart as it did mine, you won’t want to miss the sequel, A Dancing Tide.

A Barefoot Tide

By Grace Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Grace Greene, USA Today Bestselling author, and author of Beach Rental, The Memory of Butterflies, and The Wildflower House Series, brings us A Barefoot Tide ~ a standalone novel set along the crystal coast of North Carolina, in the small town of Emerald Isle. From rural Virginia to coastal Carolina ~ Lilliane Moore leaves the forests and rolling hills of her rural Virginia hometown, Cub Creek, to accept a temporary job as a companion to an elderly man who lives at the beach. It’s a risky move that’s out of character for her, but her thirties are passing quickly—she feels…


The Yellow Wife

By Sadeqa Johnson,

Book cover of The Yellow Wife

This book will break your heart a million ways, but you’ll still want your friends to read it. Phelby Brown is a teenage girl navigating the complicated world of cross-generational slavery. But just when she thinks she’s figured it all out, she’s put up against an especially cruel “Jailer” on the Devil’s Half Acre in Virginia, where the enslaved people are tortured and sold every day. How will she outsmart this dangerous man and turn the tables on this mad, mad world? Readers will be hooked from page one and cheering for Phelby every step of the way (even between their own tears).

The Yellow Wife

By Sadeqa Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year by NPR and Christian Science Monitor

Called “wholly engrossing” by New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Grissom, this “fully immersive” (Lisa Wingate, #1 bestselling author of Before We Were Yours) story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation,…


The Known World

By Edward P. Jones,

Book cover of The Known World

Toni Morrison once described her books as simple stories about complicated characters, and this also applies to The Known World. This beautifully-written novel, told from the perspective of slave-owners, surprises—but in this case, because they’re Black.

I’d come across an instance of African American slave-owning (which were very few) while researching my first book. Jones understands that the contradictions of the premise offer a great opportunity to explore the fiction of American racial identity.

In The Known World, there are no characters in white hats and others in black hats. The African American characters are no more noble than the white ones.

No, slavery corrupts all.

The Known World

By Edward P. Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Masterful, Pulitzer-prize winning literary epic about the painful and complex realities of slave life on a Southern plantation. An utterly original exploration of race, trust and the cruel truths of human nature, this is a landmark in modern American literature.

Henry Townsend, a black farmer, boot maker, and former slave, becomes proprietor of his own plantation - as well as his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery…


Life on the Color Line

By Gregory Howard Williams,

Book cover of Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black

I read Life on the Color Line as a junior in high school. I was amazed by William’s intimate account of having lived, first as a white boy in America, and then, as a Black boy in America. His life story illuminates not only the fiction that “race” is biological and immutable, but the powerful reality of white supremacy. Little did I know when reading Williams’s book that I would one day give birth to a son this society deems to be white. This is, in many ways, a painful book, but it is also one about the power of love and community. The love and community Williams found is what led him to share his story, which is a necessary and crucial reminder to challenge racism at its root. 

Life on the Color Line

By Gregory Howard Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life on the Color Line as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Heartbreaking and uplifting… a searing book about race and prejudice in America… brims with insights that only someone who has lived on both sides of the racial divide could gain.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“A triumph of storytelling as well as a triumph of spirit.”—Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning author of There Are No Children Here

As a child in 1950s segregated Virginia, Gregory Howard Williams grew up believing he was white. But when the family business failed and his parents’ marriage fell apart, Williams discovered that his dark-skinned father, who had been passing as Italian-American, was half black. The family split up, and…


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