My List of 50 Must-Read Books



I’m sure there are some out there but none of the lists I’ve seen have been diverse enough for me; they often don’t include enough books from the non-English speaking world, nor many books by women. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” and so I’m taking the same advice for creating this list.This list reflects my own interests and shows books I wish I’d had access to earlier, books that have shown me diverse experiences and new perspectives. I guarantee you, if you read these books your perspectives on life will change.

In no particular order, here is my list of 50 must-reads.

  1. Things Fall Apart– Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)
  2. The Joys of Motherhood– Buchi Emecheta (Nigeria)
  3. Women of the Harlem Renaissance- Cheryl T. Hall (America)
  4. At the Bottom of the River- Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua and Barbuda)
  5. The Diary of Anais Nin (France/Cuba)
  6. The Waves– Virginia Woolf (England)
  7. The Temple of my Familiar– Alice Walker (America)
  8. Pedagogy of the Oppressed- Paulo Freire (Brazil)
  9. Masks– Fumiko Enchi (Japan)
  10. The Fire Next Time– James Baldwin (America)
  11. The Book of Night Women– Marlon James (Jamaica)
  12. The Bone People- Keri Hulme (New Zealand)
  13. Breath, Eyes, Memory– Edwidge Danticat (Haiti)
  14. Male Daughters, Female Husbands-  Ifi Amadiume (Nigeria).
  15. The Book of Disquiet– Fernando Pessoa (Portugal)
  16. A House of my Own– Sandra Cisneros (America)
  17. Cassandra– Christa Wolf (East Germany)
  18. When Rainclouds Gather- Bessie Head (South Africa/Botswana)
  19. Woman at Point Zero– Nawal El Sadaawi (Egypt)
  20. Book of Negroes- Lawrence Hill (Canada)
  21. Such a Long Letter- Mariama Ba (Senegal)
  22. A Brief History of Oscar Wao- Junot Diaz (Dominican Republic/America)
  23. Tell Freedom- Peter Abraham (South Africa)
  24. Braiding Sweetgrass– Robin Wall Kimmerer (America- Native American)
  25. The Autobiography of Malcolm X (America)
  26. The First Man– Albert Camus (Algeria/France)
  27. Salman Rushdie- Midnight’s Children
  28. Women Writing Africa: Eastern Region- Amandina Lihamba
  29. China Men– Maxine Hong Kingston (America)
  30. Spring Essence: The Poetry of Hồ Xuân Hương (Vietnam)
  31. I, Tituba– Maryse Conde (Guadaloupe)
  32. Istanbul Blues- Buket Uzuner (Turkey)
  33. Textermination– Christine Brooke-Rose (England)
  34. Full  Woman, Fleshy Apple, Hot Moon– Pablo Neruda (Chile)
  35. Butterfly Burning- Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe)
  36. The Woman Who Read Too Much– Bahiyyih Nakhjavani (Iran)
  37. A Bad Woman’s Story– Kishwar Naheed (Pakistan)
  38. Beauty is a Wound- Eka Kurniawan (Indonesia)
  39. A Season in Congo– Aime Cesaire (Martinique)
  40. Beloved– Toni Morrison (America)
  41. Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio- Pu Songling (China)
  42. Ossuaries- Dionne Brand (Canada/Trinidad)
  43. Their Eyes Were Watching God- Zora Neale Hurston (America)
  44. Dreams of Trespass – Fatima Mernissi (Morocco)
  45. White Teeth- Zadie Smith (England)
  46. Tribaliks: Contemporary Congolese Stories– Henri Lopes (Congo)
  47. Wide Sargasso Sea– Jean Rhys (Dominica)
  48. Kindred- Octavia Butler (America)
  49. The Gloria Anzaldua Reader (America)
  50. Mr Loverman– Bernardino Evaristo (England/Nigeria)



33 thoughts on “My List of 50 Must-Read Books

  1. This is a wonderful list!! I read mostly works by other people of color especially woc but with a definite US bias. I am doung Kinba’s Reading Africa cgallenge this year and so far both reads are Zimbabwean so this lust will be very helpful!
    My country rarely publishes or at least advertizes diverse works or only ones that pander to white Western audiences. But I have done a post on 5 Afro-German reads if you ever want to read German lit that isn’t normative 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Bina! Our reading habits sound very similar (mostly WOC, US bias). That Africa challenge sounds awesome! Are you in Germany? I’m going to have a look at your blog, thank you!

      1. Yes, I’m a German woc, currently living near Cologne 🙂 Def recommend KinnaReads’ blog, I have already discovered wonderful writers through the challenge.

  2. Thank you so much for this list! I am bookmarking it haha. I’m trying to read a book from every country in the world and Africa in general is still such a blur to me. I really have been living with a narrowed perspective…
    I will especially take the recommendations from countries with less translated works into account!
    Kate @Read and Dream

  3. I’m ashamed to say I’ve read only 5 of these (1, 10, 25, 27, 40). Most of those I read in college as part of my courses, so it’s been a long time. I remember reading books on Tituba–at least one microhistory and a few others–but I can’t remember them well enough to say which ones they were. That was also in college. So, I should really add these books and others to my TBR!

    1. Don’t worry, I tried to make this list as diverse as possible to challenge people to seek the books out! I spend a lot of time in the library so I often come across obscure titles. Have fun discovering more diverse books:)

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