Curator Reviews

Phoebe Robinson

I first read this when I was a sophomore in college. I’m always a fan of female authors and their work isn’t always included in canons or revered or placed on a pedestal the way male authors are — this is a book that has stood the test of time. It’s incredible to read books that represent different time periods in black people’s lives. Not just about slavery. Not just about black suffering. That can often be the only narrative that we get. This is more a snapshot of a woman’s life throughout different periods. That should exist more in this world.

View Phoebe Robinson's Top 10 Favorite Books
Janet Mock

I first read this novel at 16 and felt centered in ways I’d never felt before as a reader. I’ve since returned to it whenever I feel lost and am given affirmation to journey for answers, like Hurston’s protagonist Janie in the muck.

View Janet Mock's Top 10 Favorite Books
Yara Shahidi

Everything about this novel is poetic. From the ripe symbolism and haunting telling of true love, to witnessing the true liberation of a woman who has led a life dictated by societal pressures. The story of Janie is both insanely specific to her life and also a statement on the universal transformative stages of womanhood.

View Yara Shahidi's Top 10 Favorite Books
Joyce Maynard

Though this dazzling novel is now frequently assigned in high school and college English classes, it was out of print during my own young days. Back in 1971, when I entered college, there was not a single course in the Yale Blue Book on African American literature. The name Zora Neale Hurston was unknown to me. Forty-eight years later, when I returned to college as an undergraduate (having dropped out at age 18, the first time around), I took a class in literature of the Black South. This novel—painful, horrifying, heartbreaking, funny and true-- overtook my imagination for weeks, and remains there still.

View Joyce Maynard's Top 10 Favorite Books