Three books written by some of the best of all time:
1. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
While I know many people had to read this growing up in school, this was my first time reading the famous Maya Angelou memoir. If I had to describe this book simply, I would say that it’s beautifully horrifying. Maya is an amazing writer, obviously, but the story is much darker than I think people realize. While it’s an incredibly fascinating look into her journey discovering the power of words and communication, her life was not easy. She writes about racism, sexual assault, and life struggles, but her language is chosen so carefully that the darkness is hidden behind the layers of beauty in her words. This books was a wonderful exploration of the power of language, and also important experiences that Maya was very brave to share.
2. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
This was a short read, but a very impactful one. The book is broken up into two letters written by Baldwin, which I believe makes this a work of non-fiction. The first is to his nephew who shares his name, and the letter reads as a warning for life as a black man in America. This theme continues in his second and much longer letter, which is not addressed to anyone in particular, but rather is from a “region in [his] mind”. His thoughts ebb and flow into different ideas and experiences, which also focus largely on religion. He talks about his internal battles, what led him in and out of the church, and attempts to understand his experiences. I love the way he writes, which makes me excited to read his fictional work.
3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
If I’m completely transparent about this book, it was one of the most disturbing things I’ve actually ever read. While I appreciate the style in which Toni writes, the subject matter and plot were certainly hard to stomach. She starts with the idea of wanting to have all the features that make up the ‘standard beauty model’, but takes it beyond, to the point where the girl believes her misfortune is a result of her lack of blue eyes. The story is wildly sad and dark, and it did not feel good to read. I have to say that I am very reluctant to try more of Toni Morrison after reading this one.
Thanks for reading!