97 books like True to the Game

By Teri Woods,

Here are 97 books that True to the Game fans have personally recommended if you like True to the Game. 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 Their Eyes Were Watching God

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?

This book scared the hell out of me when I was a teenager because its vivid descriptions stayed in my dreams yet it never stopped me from reading and loving the entire book.

It taught me a lot about following your intuition and/or gut feelings. Although it has been a long time since I read it, the main thing I remember is that your intuition is your protector, and listening to that inner voice helps a lot along the way.

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

17 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 The Story of O

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?

This book was given to me as a gift, and the lessons it taught me as I read those ancient pages.

It had me clutching my pearls, and it disgusted me at other parts, but at the same time, I wanted/needed to read that book in order to write a book in that style. 

By Pauline Reage,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Story of O as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic French erotic bestseller that preceded Fifty Shades of Grey

A beautiful young French woman, known only as 'O', is taken by her lover Rene to a splendid mansion near Paris. Here, she is initiated into an elite secret society, where she must learn to serve the sexual fantasies of Rene and his fellow members. But she must also explore the nature of her own darkest desires - and confront just how far she is willing to go for love...


Book cover of The Coldest Winter Ever

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?

Another great read of my teens that had me looking for real versions of the people described in this book, aka I wished I lived in this book!

It was like an action-packed movie; all the details of the story came to life in my head at the time I read it. Books like this one made me wish I could tell stories like this.

By Sister Souljah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a stunning first novel, renowned hip-hop artist, writer and activist Sister Souljah brings the streets of New York to life with a powerful and utterly unforgettable tale. Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, business minded and fashionable, Winter knows no restrictions. No one can control her. She's nobody's victim. Winter knows the Brooklyn streets like she knows the curves of her own body. She manoeuvres skilfully, applying all she has learned to come out on top, no matter how dramatically the scenes change. But a cold winter wind is about…


Book cover of Heart Of Kings

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?

I loved this book’s story flow; the realism and the grit of it gave me chills. I absolutely love books that make me feel something, that give me something to walk away with.

The characters in this book make you see the story being told in your mind, and with every twist, you feel them all.

By Fanchon Stylezz,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Manchild in the Promised Land

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

Although presented as a novel, this book is a memoir of Brown’s life growing up as a Black boy in Harlem in the 1940s and 50s amid poverty, violence, and addiction.

Marlene was in Paris in the summer of 1969 when a young white American man gave her a book to read. Brown’s story smacked me in the face. He lived in an America that was foreign to me—poverty, addiction, violence, incarceration. His experiences growing up on the streets of Harlem were so different from mine in suburban New Jersey.

What I remember most is my wonder at Brown’s description of “conking” his hair—straightening it with chemical relaxers that damaged his hair and burned his scalp. His description has stayed with me for all these years as a reminder of how little I knew and know about the lives of Blacks and their position in a white world.

By Claude Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Manchild in the Promised Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This thinly fictionalized account of Claude Brown's childhood as a streetwise criminal trying to survive the toughest streets of Harlem of everyday life for the first generation African American raised in the Northern ghettos of the 1940s and 1950s.


Book cover of Some Places More Than Others

Sally Engelfried Author Of Learning to Fall

From my list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

Father-daughter relationships have always fascinated me. I wrote my first book to explore what it might be like for a girl to have a father with whom communication is, if not easy, possible. Although my own father was around when I was growing up, he was a distant figure. A mechanical engineer, he lost himself in ruminations on machines and mathematics and was made still more distant by his alcoholism. As a kid, I tried to glean from books what having a “regular” father might be like. I still haven’t figured it out, but I love seeing other authors capture the formative effects of this particular parental relationship. 

Sally's book list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships

Sally Engelfried Why did Sally love this book?

It can be difficult for kids to see their parents as real people, and that’s why I love Some Places More Than Others. When Amara finally convinces her parents she should get to go on a trip with her dad to New York City’s Harlem to meet the grandfather she’s only spoken to on the phone, she uncovers the fact that her dad and her grandfather haven’t spoken in twelve years. I love the depiction of Amara’s father as a person in his own right, someone with a history and his own problems and how, as Amara slowly unravels the mysteries of her father’s past, she begins to understand herself better too.

By Renée Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Some Places More Than Others as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Newbery Honor- and Coretta Scott King Author Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Renée Watson comes a heartwarming and inspiring novel for middle schoolers about finding deep roots and exploring the past, the present, and the places that make us who we are.

All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father's family in New York City--Harlem, to be exact. She can't wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family--and herself--in new way.

But New…


Book cover of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Taylor Tyng Author Of Clara Poole and the Long Way Round

From my list on middle grade series to laugh out-loud.

Why am I passionate about this?

While one-off stories are fantastic, I love that children's series lets readers return to trusted characters. Series allow children to see a wider arc of character development and decision-making—often imperfect and in transition—when they are trying to figure out how to identify and connect with the world themselves. That shared experience over time is why I only write series myself—to let kids evolve alongside their favorite characters.

Taylor's book list on middle grade series to laugh out-loud

Taylor Tyng Why did Taylor love this book?

Five siblings work and grow together to confront one catastrophe after another and keep their way family and community together.

The siblings—Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney—are written with winning characterization that makes readers feel like they are one of the family. The heart is enormous in this one!

By Karina Yan Glaser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It's practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.


Book cover of Down These Mean Streets

J.L. Torres Author Of Migrations

From my list on by writers of the Puerto Rican diaspora.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a child of the Puerto Rican diaspora. Born in the island, raised in the South Bronx—with an interval period in the homeland “to find roots”—I now reside in upstate New York. My life is representative of the vaivén—the “coming and going”—that is a constant in Puerto Rican modern history. Like many Diasporicans, I grew up disconnected from my history, culture, and heritage. These books did not recover what I lost. It is difficult to reclaim culture and national identity secondhand. But these writers shared an experience I readily recognized. Reading them, I embrace my tribe and don’t feel alone. They inspire me to write and tell my own stories.

J.L.'s book list on by writers of the Puerto Rican diaspora

J.L. Torres Why did J.L. love this book?

Thomas’s memoir is a seminal text of Nuyorican Literature (a sub-genre of Diasporican Literature) and the Latinx canon. It also belongs to the urban literature genre that emerged in the 1960s. His, however, was the first Latinx version of a narrative that depicts, some would say sensationalizes and exploits, the gritty, raw life of the inner city. As such, it had a tremendous impact on developing Latinx writers who had few role models at the time. His work, along with others of that genre, still holds influence stylistically and thematically with some Latinx authors. Written in the traditional Augustinian autobiographical model, Mean Streets tracks Piri’s fall into crime and drugs and final transformation and redemption. More significantly, this memoir introduces the issue of Latinx black identity and the complication of it within the American black-white paradigm. 

By Piri Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Down These Mean Streets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A modern classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence—and a lyrical memoir of coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. 

"A report from the guts and heart of a submerged population group ... It claims our attention and emotional response." —The New York Times Book Review

Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating memoir. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of…


Book cover of Mumbo Jumbo

Daniel Torday Author Of The 12th Commandment

From my list on prophetic American stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

If there's a throughline in all my books, it occurs to me I've always been writing about the dangers of extremism, the times when we get sucked too deeply into ideologies that lead to dangerous action. So this most recent novel felt like an ideal time to take that head-on: to see what would happen within a sect of Kabbalists, led by a self-proclaimed prophet, when things went bad. With that in mind... here's a bunch of books focused around prophecy!

Daniel's book list on prophetic American stories

Daniel Torday Why did Daniel love this book?

This novel may be my favorite book of the 1970s and a woefully underappreciated deep satire not just of its moment, but of ours as well. I think about the mere fact of museums being renamed "centers of art detention" once a day or so, and I haven't reread the book in a decade.

By Ishmael Reed,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New in 2023, the 50th anniversary edition of the classic, freewheeling novel by one of the most iconic satirists of our time—now with a new introduction by the author.

“Part vision, part satire, part farce… A wholly original, unholy cross between the craft of fiction and witchcraft.” —The New York Times

It is the 1920s in New York City and an epidemic known as Jes Grew is sweeping the nation—a dancing plague, irresistible, joyful, and undeniably Black. Naturally, the powers-that-be are having none of it. A repressive conspiracy is operating in the shadows, and it is dead set on squelching…


Book cover of Cotton Comes to Harlem

Jake Lamar Author Of Viper's Dream

From my list on social thrillers about money, race, and power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in the Bronx, New York. I arrived in Paris, France at the age of 32. Thought I would stay for one year. That was thirty years ago. I'm still in Paris, and the author of a memoir, a play, and seven novels. Many of my novels fit the term "social thriller," popularized by Jordan Peele to define his ground-smashing classic film Get Out. Peele identified a genre that has been with us, particularly when it comes to crime fiction, for a long time. I've always been fascinated by dark, suspenseful stories that explore the nature of greed, of racism, of political power. And how the three are so often wrapped around each other.

Jake's book list on social thrillers about money, race, and power

Jake Lamar Why did Jake love this book?

Only when I arrived in Paris did I discover the works of this major African American writer.

Back then, Himes—still under-recognized in the USA—was a long-time household name in France. Himes not only brought the American crime novel to the Black part of town, he did it with a satiric bite that is his distinguishing feature.

The Black police detectives Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are at the center of the nine novels in Himes's Harlem Cycle, an epic achievement in crime fiction.

Himes's Harlem is a violent phantasmagoria where Digger and Edin order to protect the poor, ordinary working folk of the communityare forced to be the baddest of the bad.

Cotton Comes to Harlem is my favorite work in the collection. Published in 1965, it skewers both Black militants and white racists with wicked glee.

By Chester Himes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cotton Comes to Harlem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From “the best writer of mayhem yarns since Raymond Chandler” (San Francisco Chronicle) comes a hard-hitting, entertaining entry in the trailblazing Harlem Detectives series about two NYPD detectives who must piece together the clues of the scam of a lifetime. 

Flim-flam man Deke O’Hara is no sooner out of Atlanta’s state penitentiary than he’s back on the streets working a big scam. As sponsor of the Back-to-Africa movement, he’s counting on a big Harlem rally to produce a massive collection—for his own private charity. But the take is hijacked by white gunmen and hidden in a bale of cotton that…


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