"PSPL" refers to books you can borrow from the Paul Sawyier Public Library.
The Black Experience is an annotated booklist curated by Shannan Hicks, Director of Library Services, William F. Laman Public Library System, North Little Rock, Arkansas. This Google Sheets based list is regularly updated and includes both fiction and non-fiction. (Note: there is a tab for Adults and a tab for Children's/Young Adult)
The ZORA Canon is "a list of 100 masterworks, spanning 160 years of African American women’s literature, divided into sections from pre-emancipation to the present, including fiction and nonfiction, novels, plays, anthologies, and poetry collections and ranging in subject matter from the historical to the personal (and sometimes both at once). Taken together, the works don’t just make up a novel canon; they form a revealing mosaic of the Black American experience during the time period. They’re also just great reads.”
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, a national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. PSPL Audiobook - CD 305.8 BALD
Just Above My Head by James Baldwin tells the story of gospel singer Arthur Hall and his family, which becomes both a journey into another country of the soul and senses – and a living contemporary history of black struggle in this land. Here, in a monumental saga of love and rage, Baldwin goes back to Harlem, to the church of his groundbreaking novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, to the homosexual passion of Giovanni’s Room, and to the political fire that enflames his nonfiction work.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a novel about a magical gift, a devastating loss, and an underground war for freedom which tells the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. PSPL Adult Fiction - F COAT
A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansberry tells the story of an African American family trying to buy a house in an all-white neighborhood in Chicago. This play was also made into a movie starring Sidney Poitier. PSPL 812.54 HANS, also DVD of the film.
Beloved by Toni Morrison examines the destructive legacy of slavery as it chronicles the life of a black woman named Sethe, from her pre-Civil War days as a slave in Kentucky to her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1873. Although Sethe lives there as a free woman, she is held prisoner by memories of the trauma of her life as a slave. Winner of the Pulitizer Prize for Fiction. PSPL Adult Fiction - F MORR, Audiobook - CD MORR
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, tell the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, who prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing. PSPL Adult Fiction - F MORR
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult follows the trial of a black labor and delivery nurse charged with failing to comply with the request of white supremacist parents not to touch their newborn, which she must do to save its life. PSPL Adult Fiction - F PICO
In The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. PSPL Young Adult Fiction - YF THOM, also DVD of film version.
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead imagines that the Underground Railroad is an actual railroad with engineers and conductors operating on a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath Southern soil. Cora, a young enslaved woman on a cotton plantation in Georgia embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop. As Whitehead re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. Underground Railroad is both the tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. PSPL Storage - F WHIT, Large Type - LT F WHIT, Audiobook - CD WHIT
Resources have been recommended by members
and should not be viewed as endorsed by FORR: Frankfort.