What are some excellent African American or black books to read?

my friend told me about this thing on live journal called the 50 book challenge. you basically read 50 books in a year. one of my main themes is black history/social topics/etc. novels.

OH. JUST SO WERE CLEAR IM NOT READING ANY ZANE NOVELS OR ANY OF THAT URBAN STUFF. nothing wrong with itt but its not my style. i have friends who love those books. the coldest winter, cream in my coffee...lol i know all about that mess.

heres a list of the black novels i have so far to give you an idea of what i like and lean towards. some of them are rereads. i know. i cheat.

Beloved (reread)

The Color Purple (reread)

Their Eyes Were Watching God (reread)

Invisible Man

The Bluest Eye

The Book of Negroes

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley

Dreams from My Father

19 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Their Eyes Were Watching God.... Zora Neale Houston

    I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings... Maya Angelou

    Raisin in the Sun... Lorraine Hansberry

    Native Son... Richard Wright

    The Souls of Black Folk... W.E.B. Dubois

    A Lesson Before Dying... Ernest Gaines

    How Stella Got Her Groove Back and;

    Waiting to Exhale... Terry McMillan

    Song of Solomon... Toni Morrison

    Devil In a Blue Dress.... Walter Mosley (Careful, this one will entice you in to read all Mosley)

    And lastly Roots... Alex Haley. The miniseries was good, but the book is better.

    Source(s): Peace.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    B'More Careful

    The Corner: A Year In The Life of An Inner-City Neighborhood

    Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets

    You should know all three of these as a very accurate depiction of African American Culture after living in Baltimore City aka Baldamore Citay aka Bodymore Murdaland aka Bawlmer

    Source(s): Native ex-Resident who is White but has read those books and seen that they are truly reflective of African American culture.
  • 1 decade ago

    Where the Heart Is

    I do not remember the author's name, and it is not based on an african-american person, but it is a very heart fetl book that Opra recommended (I hope that it doesn't insult anyone, it was just a tid-bit)

    7 is an unlucky number for this girl. Novelee Nation is 17 years old, 7 months pregnant, with only $7.77 in her pocket for change as she runs with her lover across the country. When he unexpectedly leaves her at a Walmart in a remote town in Oklahoma, she worries about her baby but makes due with what she has. No one knows she secretly lives in Walmart, waiting for a little kindness in her very tragic history and past. The gentle townsfolk ease Novelee back into a confident, smiling self, and her life begins for what seems a whole new time.

    And the book Uncle Tom's Cabin

  • 1 decade ago

    Am I understanding that you want books by authors of African descent?

    Virginia Hamilton writes novels for younger readers, but some of them are pretty long, like Wiliie Lea and the Time the Martians Landed. Zeely, also by Hamilton, is an old childhood favorite of mine--gives a good portrayal of growing up black in the US.

    Joyce Carol Thomas has written two books--maybe more--about an African American town in Oklahoma in the 1950s. Very moving. She's written other stuff as well, which I haven't read.

    Barbara Neely's contemporary mystery series featuring Blanche White ;-) are engaging and very realistic. I highly recommend them.

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs was written in the 1800s. An important book.

    Alice Walker is always good! Try her short story collection In Love and Trouble and the novel The Temple of My Familiar--excellent.

    Octavia E. Butler, who died a couple of years ago, wrote Kindred, an intense novel about slavery. She has also written some speculative fiction that is heavily based in biology and evolutionary science. I've enjoyed everything of hers I've read.

    I haven't read Marlon James's new book, The Book of NIght Women, but it looks pretty good.

    Paule Marshall is another good one. Not sure of all her titles.

    Gloria Naylor's Mama Day is good too. Haven't read any of her later work.

    Good luck!

    Source(s): avid reader
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  • Anything by Toure is amazing, although I most highly recommend Soul City. His work does tend towards the modern, but it's in my mind an indispensable part of an Afro-American Lit reading list.

    There is of course Langston Hughes' collected works, and I particularly liked "Go Tell It On the Mountain" by James Baldwin.

    Can't go wrong with Maya Angelou, or if you can find a copy of Dunbar's complete works, you'll be in good shape. Angelou's Sula and Mercy aren't quite as... involving as Beloved (but I have never read another novel that IS) but they are good. Another must-read from Ms. Angelou is "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes", and "Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now".

    Oh, forget all that. Just read everything Angelou has written :)

    I would also advise reading W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington at the same time: two brilliant men with two brilliant outlooks, both of whom were right in their own ways.

    The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man, by James Weldon Johnson is something also... there's just so much to choose from.

    EDIT: Same Kind of Different As Me is one of the most uplifting things I have read in a long time, and as a jaded old English major, I can honestly say it's an inspirational story worth reading.

    EDIT II: Be wary of Alex Haley. The man "borrowed" quite heavily from Harold Courland in an act of such blatant plagiarism that it was taken to court (and settled out of it). Read the original, "The African" as written by Courland. It's just as amazing, but never got the press "Roots" did.

  • DB
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago


    Women of Brewster Place

    Men of Brewster Place


    This Bitter Earth


    If the Living Ain't Easy

    Native Son

    Darkest Child

    Camilla's Roses

    The Wedding

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    Go tell it on the Mountain


    What looks like crazy on a ordinary day

    I wish I had a blue dress

    A lesson before dying

    Diary of Miss Jane Pittman

    A long way from home

    Big girls don't cry

    Your blues ain't like mine

    What you owe me

    I know why the caged bird sings




    I wish I had a red dress

    The Good House

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Black Boy by Richard Wright..trust me its good

    im not much of a novel reader but i got through this book in 2 weeks with a great amount of interest....i read their eyes were watching god and didnt like it at all

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Black hard artwork, White Wealth: the seek for potential and fiscal justice. by employing Claud Anderson The Isis Papers by employing Frances Cress Welsing The Wretched of the Earth by employing Frantz Fanon The Mis-training of The Ne-gro by employing Carter G. Woodson

  • Read Maya Angelo's autobiographies. There are five different books, moving chronogically from her childhood into late adulthood. She is so real in her writing and completely inspiring. It's amazing the challenges she has overcome. You'll love them.

  • 1 decade ago

    Just finished "Say It Loud: Speeches by Barack Obama" myself, It's kind of a must read...

    also from seeing what you read try "The Willie Lynch Letter and The Destruction of Black Unity" it's a very sadding, but great historical book...

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