Check Out
The Bestselling Books of All Time
See the List
mobile banner image
The ReadDown

The Juneteenth Reading List

Juneteenth commemorates the day the last enslaved people were emancipated in the United States on June 19, 1865. Celebrate fiction and nonfiction by African American authors that continue to shape our culture, celebrate liberation, and acknowledge the ongoing work towards freedom and equality still necessary over 150 years later.

  1. 1
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture

    We Were Eight Years in Power

    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    “We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time.  We Were Eight Years in Power features Ta-Nehisi Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including “Fear of a Black President,” “The Case for Reparations,” and “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development.
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $18.00

    Also available from:

  2. 2
    The Warmth of Other Suns Book Cover Picture
    The Warmth of Other Suns Book Cover Picture

    The Warmth of Other Suns

    by Isabel Wilkerson

    From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.
    The Warmth of Other Suns Book Cover Picture
    The Warmth of Other Suns Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.95

    Also available from:

  3. 3
    Homegoing Book Cover Picture
    Homegoing Book Cover Picture

    Homegoing

    by Yaa Gyasi

    Homegoing Book Cover Picture
    Homegoing Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  4. 4
    The Black Book Book Cover Picture
    The Black Book Book Cover Picture

    The Black Book

    by

    A new edition of the classic New York Times bestseller edited by Toni Morrison, offering an encyclopedic look at the black experience in America from 1619 through the 1940s with the original cover restored. In 1974, Middleton A. Harris and Toni Morrison led a team of gifted, passionate collectors in compiling nearly five hundred others into one sensational narrative of the black experience in America—The Black Book. Now in a newly restored hardcover edition, The Black Book remains a breathtaking testament to the legendary wisdom, strength, and perseverance of black men and women intent on freedom. A labor of love and a vital link to the richness and diversity of African American history and culture, The Black Book honors the past, reminding us where our nation has been and gives flight to our hopes for what is yet to come.
    The Black Book Book Cover Picture
    The Black Book Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $35.00

    Also available from:

  5. 5
    Stony the Road Book Cover Picture
    Stony the Road Book Cover Picture

    Stony the Road

    by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

    The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked “a new birth of freedom” in Lincoln’s America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the “nadir” of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance. Through his close reading of the visual culture of this tragic era, Gates reveals the many faces of Jim Crow and how, together, they reinforced a stark color line between white and black Americans. Bringing a lifetime of wisdom to bear as a scholar, filmmaker, and public intellectual, Gates uncovers the roots of structural racism in our own time, while showing how African Americans after slavery combatted it by articulating a vision of a “New Negro” to force the nation to recognize their humanity and unique contributions to America as it hurtled toward the modern age.
    Stony the Road Book Cover Picture
    Stony the Road Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $20.00

    Also available from:

  6. 6
    Juneteenth Book Cover Picture
    Juneteenth Book Cover Picture

    Juneteenth

    by Ralph Ellison

    Juneteenth Book Cover Picture
    Juneteenth Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  7. 7
    The Weary Blues Book Cover Picture
    The Weary Blues Book Cover Picture

    The Weary Blues

    by Langston Hughes

    The Weary Blues reminds us of the stunning achievement of Langston Hughes, who was just twenty-four at its first appearance. Beginning with the opening “Proem” (prologue poem)—“I am a Negro: / Black as the night is black, / Black like the depths of my Africa”—Hughes spoke directly, intimately, and powerfully of the experiences of African Americans at a time when their voices were newly being heard in our literature.
    The Weary Blues Book Cover Picture
    The Weary Blues Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $26.95

    Also available from:

  8. 8
    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture
    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture

    The Fire Next Time

    by James Baldwin

    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture
    The Fire Next Time Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $13.95

    Also available from:

  9. 9
    Washington Black Book Cover Picture
    Washington Black Book Cover Picture

    Washington Black

    by Esi Edugyan

    Eleven-year-old George Washington Black—or Wash—a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is initially terrified when he is chosen as the manservant of his master’s brother. To his surprise, however, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning, and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, they must abandon everything and flee together. Over the course of their travels, what brings Wash and Christopher together will tear them apart, propelling Wash ever farther across the globe in search of his true self. Spanning the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, London to Morocco, Washington Black is a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, and of a world destroyed and made whole again.
    Washington Black Book Cover Picture
    Washington Black Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  10. 10
    Negroland Book Cover Picture
    Negroland Book Cover Picture

    Negroland

    by Margo Jefferson

    Pulitzer Prize–winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson was born in 1947 into upper-crust black Chicago. Her father was head of pediatrics at Provident Hospital, while her mother was a socialite. In these pages, Jefferson takes us into this insular and discerning society: “I call it Negroland,” she writes, “because I still find ‘Negro’ a word of wonders, glorious and terrible.”
    Negroland Book Cover Picture
    Negroland Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

    Also available from:

  11. 11
    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture
    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture

    The Underground Railroad

    by Colson Whitehead

    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture
    The Underground Railroad Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  12. 12
    The Water Dancer Book Cover Picture
    The Water Dancer Book Cover Picture

    The Water Dancer

    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    In his boldly imagined first novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Mebrings home the most intimate evil of enslavement: the cleaving and separation of families. This is 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. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.
    The Water Dancer Book Cover Picture
    The Water Dancer Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $28.00

    Also available from:

  13. 13
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture

    There Will Be No Miracles Here

    by Casey Gerald

    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  14. 14
    Conjure Women Book Cover Picture
    Conjure Women Book Cover Picture

    Conjure Women

    by Afia Atakora

    Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and their enslaver’s daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.
    Conjure Women Book Cover Picture
    Conjure Women Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  15. 15
    The Nickel Boys Book Cover Picture
    The Nickel Boys Book Cover Picture

    The Nickel Boys

    by Colson Whitehead

    The Nickel Boys Book Cover Picture
    The Nickel Boys Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.95

    Also available from:

  16. 16
    Beloved Book Cover Picture
    Beloved Book Cover Picture

    Beloved

    by Toni Morrison

    Toni Morrison’s magnificent Pulitzer winning work—first published in 1987—brought the wrenching experience of slavery into the literature of our time, enlarging our comprehension of America’s original sin. Set in post–Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has withstood savagery and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.
    Beloved Book Cover Picture
    Beloved Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $28.00

    Also available from:

  17. 17
    Cane Book Cover Picture
    Cane Book Cover Picture

    Cane

    by Jean Toomer

    Jean Toomer’s Cane is one of the most significant works to come out of the Harlem Renaissance, and is considered to be a masterpiece in American modernist literature because of its distinct structure and style. First published in 1923 and told through a series of vignettes, Cane uses poetry, prose, and play-like dialogue to create a window into the varied lives of African Americans living in the rural South and urban North during a time when Jim Crow laws pervaded and racism reigned.  For the first time in Penguin Classics, this edition of Cane features a new introduction, suggestions for further reading, and notes by scholar George Hutchinson, and Zinzi Clemmons contributes a foreword.
    Cane Book Cover Picture
    Cane Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.00

    Also available from:

Find other titles in

Related Lists:

Back to Top