clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

13 books Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks you should read

If you buy something from a Vox link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

When writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates published Between the World and Me last year, he received a fair amount of critique, chief among them that the book generalized the black American identity to be equivalent to his own experience as an African-American man.

That was never his intention, Coates told New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones: He hoped his book would inspire readers to then explore other works by black writers.

"I don't want this book to be the black book," Coates said. "My hope is that folks that are not familiar with black literature read this book and then go read a ton of other books."

Throughout that 2015 interview with Hannah-Jones, Coates referenced 13 books, urging readers to explore the world of black literature and beyond. Here is his list:

(Hat tip to Open Culture writer Josh Jones for resurfacing this list.)

  1. "The Fire Next Time" in Collected Essays by James Baldwin
  2. The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life, His Own by David Carr
  3. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
  4. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War by James McPherson
  5. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 by Arnold R. Hirsch
  6. Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America by Beryl Satter
  7. Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union from Avalon Project, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School
  8. Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court nomination That Changed America by Wil Haygood
  9. American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia by Edmund S. Morgan
  10. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields
  11. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings
  12. Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching by Paula J. Giddings
  13. Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph

The 14th book on this list should be Coates's Between the World and Me, if you haven't read it already.