100 books like The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

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

Here are 100 books that The Portable Anna Julia Cooper fans have personally recommended if you like The Portable Anna Julia Cooper. 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 Wollstonecraft: Philosophy, Passion, and Politics

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?

I’ve read and written a lot on Wollstonecraft, so I don’t surprise easily.

But I was surprised when I found out that Mary Wollstonecraft was a theatre buff who knew Shakespeare inside out, and that her favourite opera was Handel’s Judas Maccabeus and she would sometimes sing arias from it, that she loved swimming and horse riding.

The picture of Wollstonecraft that emerges from this book is that of a philosopher whose love and knowledge of humanity fed into her theories of human progress. 

By Sylvana Tomaselli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A compelling portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft that shows the intimate connections between her life and work

Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, first published in 1792, is a work of enduring relevance in women's rights advocacy. However, as Sylvana Tomaselli shows, a full understanding of Wollstonecraft's thought is possible only through a more comprehensive appreciation of Wollstonecraft herself, as a philosopher and moralist who deftly tackled major social and political issues and the arguments of such figures as Edmund Burke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Adam Smith. Reading Wollstonecraft through the lens of the politics and culture of her…


Book cover of The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family

Kathleen Stone Author Of They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men

From my list on family biographies with regional history as a role.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read (and write) biography as much for history as for an individual life story. It’s a way of getting a personalized look at an historical period. When the book is a family biography, the history is amplified by different family members' perspectives, almost like a kaleidoscope, and it stretches over generations, allowing the historical story to blossom over time. The genre also opens a window into the ethos that animated this unique group of individuals who are bound together by blood. Whether it's a desire for wealth or power, the zeal for a cause, or the need to survive adversity, I found it in these family stories.  

Kathleen's book list on family biographies with regional history as a role

Kathleen Stone Why did Kathleen love this book?

We all know of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, sisters who, before the Civil War, left their South Carolina home and became well-known abolitionists in the North.

But the family also included their brother Henry, a brutal, slave-holding man, his three children by Nancy Weston, an enslaved woman in his household, and their descendants. Two brothers became part of the post-Civil War Black elite and one descendant, Angelina Weld Grimké, made a name for herself as a poet during the Harlem Renaissance.

In addition to reexamining the legacy of Sarah and Angelina, author Kerri Greenidge reminds readers how families were formed under the sword of slavery and that recovery from its wounds is incomplete, even today. 

By Kerri K. Greenidge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sarah and Angelina Grimke-the Grimke sisters-are revered figures in American history, famous for rejecting their privileged lives on a plantation in South Carolina to become firebrand activists in the North. Their antislavery pamphlets, among the most influential of the antebellum era, are still read today. Yet retellings of their epic story have long obscured their Black relatives. In The Grimkes, award-winning historian Kerri Greenidge presents a parallel narrative, indeed a long-overdue corrective, shifting the focus from the white abolitionist sisters to the Black Grimkes and deepening our understanding of the long struggle for racial and gender equality.

That the Grimke…


Book cover of Becoming Beauvoir: A Life

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?

I’ve read a lot of biographies of Simone de Beauvoir.

But this is the one that best brought out her importance as a philosopher, the many ways in which her thought differed from Sartre’s and the ways in which this has been obscured by a posterity that just wants to see her as his sidekick.

One thing that this book did for me that others on Beauvoir didn’t was to reconcile me with the unpleasant aspects of her life and relationships – she was human, she was flawed, but so were her male peers! 

By Kate Kirkpatrick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"One is not born a woman, but becomes one", Simone de Beauvoir A symbol of liberated womanhood, Simone de Beauvoir's unconventional relationships inspired and scandalised her generation. A philosopher, writer, and feminist icon, she won prestigious literary prizes and transformed the way we think about gender with The Second Sex. But despite her successes, she wondered if she had sold herself short. Her liaison with Jean-Paul Sartre has been billed as one of the most legendary love affairs of the twentieth century. But for Beauvoir it came at a cost: for decades she was dismissed as an unoriginal thinker who…


Book cover of Pythagorean Women Philosophers: Between Belief and Suspicion

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?

We know that there were women in Ancient Greece who did philosophy like Diotima and Aspasia (Socrates’s teachers) or Hypatia (who was murdered by Christians in Alexandria) or Lasthenia and Axiothea (students at Plato’s Academy).

There are also ancient texts signed with women’s names like Perictione (Plato’s mum), or Theano (Pythagoras’s wife). But we can’t always trust that those texts were written by these actual women.

Do we really think that if Plato’s mother had written philosophy, her work would have turned up a century later with a bunch of fake letters in Alexandria? What Dutsch’s book does is much more exciting than trying to prove that Plato’s mum was a philosopher.

It looks at the texts that these women supposedly wrote, and the stories that were told about them, so that we get to find out what it would have been like to be a woman and a philosopher…

By Dorota M. Dutsch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Women played an important part in Pythagorean communities, so Greek sources from the Classical era to Byzantium consistently maintain. Pseudonymous philosophical texts by Theano, Pythagoras' disciple or wife, his daughter Myia, and other female Pythagoreans, circulated in Greek and Syriac. Far from being individual creations, these texts rework and revise a standard Pythagorean script.

What can we learn from this network of sayings, philosophical treatises, and letters about gender and knowledge in the Greek intellectual tradition? Can these writings represent the work of historical Pythagorean women? If so, can we find in them a critique of the dominant order or…


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 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…


Book cover of Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South

Richard Paul Author Of We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program

From my list on race and racism in America during the time of the space program.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a long-time public radio documentary producer who now creates podcasts and conducts research for Smithsonian traveling exhibitions. After producing five documentaries on various sociological aspects of the space program, I was named the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Verville Fellow in Space History in 2014. My 2010 documentary Race and the Space Race (narrated by Mae Jemison) was the first full-length exploration of the nexus between civil rights and the space program, and the Fellowship allowed me to expand the story into a book. 

Richard's book list on race and racism in America during the time of the space program

Richard Paul Why did Richard love this book?

Throughout the 1960s, NASA tried in vain to lure Black engineers to its Southern Centers.

The agency had its excuses, but as I began to talk to NASA’s Black pioneers, I began hearing vivid descriptions of the terror that kept their friends from going to work with them at NASA. This thought-provoking examination of one of the darkest chapters in American history helps lay out a source of their reticence.

The book delves deep into the socio-political, racial, and cultural factors that led to the widespread practice of lynching. Brundage skillfully portrays the complex web of prejudice, fear, and power dynamics that fueled this brutal form of violence. Through his detailed analysis, we gain a chilling picture and the backstory of what kept NASA so White.

By W. Fitzhugh Brundage (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the assembled work of fifteen leading scholars emerges a complex and provocative portrait of lynching in the American South. With subjects ranging in time from the late antebellum period to the early twentieth century, and in place from the border states to the Deep South, this collection of essays provides a rich comparative context in which to study the troubling history of lynching. Covering a broad spectrum of methodologies, these essays further expand the study of lynching by exploring such topics as same-race lynchings, black resistance to white violence, and the political motivations for lynching. In addressing both the…


Book cover of Black Like Me

Clara Silverstein Author Of White Girl: A Story of School Desegregation

From my list on memoirs from the front lines of standing up to racism.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a white child bused to African American schools in Richmond, Virginia in the 1970s, I unwittingly stepped into a Civil Rights experiment that would shatter social norms and put me on a path to learning history not taught in textbooks. At first, I never expected to look back at this fraught time. Then I had children. The more I tried to tell them about my past, the more I wanted to understand the context. Why did we fall so short of America’s founding ideals? I have been reading and writing about American history ever since, completing a master’s degree and publishing books, essays, and poems.

Clara's book list on memoirs from the front lines of standing up to racism

Clara Silverstein Why did Clara love this book?

Griffin’s account of his journey through the Deep South as a white man disguised to look Black, originally published in 1960, has stood the test of time because it reveals Griffin’s keen insight into a society riddled with racism. Griffin’s humanity shines through in his descriptions of his encounters with people of all races. He encounters ignorance, cruelty, and threats, but also kindness. His perspective from both sides of the color line reveals the desperate need for the change that would soon come during the Civil Rights movement.

By John Howard Griffin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New edition with a foreword by Bernardine Evaristo


'A brutal record of segregated America ... essential reading' Guardian

'An anti-racist classic' Bernardine Evaristo

In the autumn of 1959, a white Texan journalist named John Howard Griffin travelled across the Deep South of the United States disguised as a working-class black man. Black Like Me is Griffin's own account of his journey.
Published in book form two years later it sold over five million copies, revealed to a white audience the daily experience of racism and became one of the best-known accounts of racial injustice in Jim Crow-era America. Embraced by…


Book cover of Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves During the Civil War

Kevin M. Levin Author Of Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth

From my list on slavery and the confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and educator based in Boston. I have authored three books and numerous essays on the Civil War era. You can find my op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast. Over the past few years, I have worked with students and teachers across the country to better understand the current controversy surrounding Confederate monuments.

Kevin's book list on slavery and the confederacy

Kevin M. Levin Why did Kevin love this book?

The Confederacy was consistent throughout most of the war that Black men could not be recruited to serve in the army as soldiers. This was a war to preserve slavery and white supremacy and Black enlisted men would have undermined the very justification for secession and the creation of a new nation. As the war entered its fourth year, however, more and more people realized that this policy was no longer tenable. Historian Bruce Levine offers a thorough analysis of the very public and bitterly divisive debate that took place throughout the Confederacy in 1864 over whether slaves could be recruited as soldiers. Confederates debated this subject in the capital of Richmond, in the army, and in countless newspapers. The question was clear: Should the Confederacy recruit Black men as a way to avoid defeat? That it took the Confederate government until mid-March 1865 to finally approve slave enlistment—much too…

By Bruce Levine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In early 1864, as the Confederate Army of Tennessee licked its wounds after being routed at the Battle of Chattanooga, Major-General Patrick Cleburne (the "Stonewall of the West") proposed that "the most courageous of our slaves" be trained as soldiers and that "every slave in the South who shall remain true to the Confederacy in this war" be freed.
In Confederate Emancipation, Bruce Levine looks closely at such Confederate plans to arm and free slaves. He shows that within a year of Cleburne's proposal, which was initially rejected out of hand, Jefferson Davis, Judah P. Benjamin, and Robert E. Lee…


Book cover of Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

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?

Joseph McNeil. Franklin McCain. David Richmond. Ezell Blair. These aren’t household names, but they should be. These four college boys—still in their teens—organized the 1960 sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. This book shows how their daring not only drew in more protestors to join them, but set off a wave of sit-ins all across the South, and ultimately led to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, with the slogan “We are all leaders.” Pinkney even squeezes in a shout-out to the grassroots organizer Ella Baker. 

By Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A picture book celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college kids staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement. Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr Martin Luther King Jr.'s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the 'whites only' Woolworth's lunch counter. Brian Pinkney embraces a new artistic style, creating expressive paintings filled with emotion that mirrors the hope, strength and determination that fueled…


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