Looking for the best James Baldwin books? Browse our list to find excellent book recommendations on the subject.
1. The Fire Next Time (1992)
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. 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. Described…
” ,” Baldwin said, “is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.” , first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention…
3. Notes of a Native Son (2012)
In an age of Black Lives Matter, James Baldwin’s essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. With films like I Am Not Your Negro and the forthcoming If Beale Street Could Talk bringing renewed interest to Baldwin’s life and work, serves as a valuable introduction.Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of…
4. If Beale Street Could Talk (2006)
In this honest and stunning novel, now a major motion picture directed by Barry Jenkins, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers…
5. Giovanni’s Room (2013)
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart….
6. Another Country (1992)
Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country is a novel of passions–sexual, racial, political, artistic–that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime….
7. I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin’s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote. In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Peck’s…
8. Nobody Knows My Name (1992)
Told with Baldwin’s characteristically unflinching honesty, this collection of illuminating, deeply felt essays examines topics ranging from race relations in the United States to the role of the writer in society, and offers personal accounts of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer and other writers….
9. Evidence of Things Not Seen (1995)
This edition of a classic work by one of America’s premier writers offers a new Foreword by Derrick Bell (with Janet Dewart Bell) to the 1995 paperback edition, and is as meaningful today as it was when it was first published in 1985. In his searing and moving essay, James Baldwin explores the Atlanta child murders that took place over a period of twenty-two months in 1979 and 1980. Examining this incident with a reporter’s skill and an essayist’s insight, he notes the significance of Atlanta as the site of these brutal killings―a city that claimed to be “too busy to hate”―and the permeation of race…
10. The Devil Finds Work (Vintage International) (2011)
Baldwin’s personal reflections on movies gathered here in a book-length essay are also a probing appraisal of American racial politics. Offering an incisive look at racism in American movies and a vision of America’s self-delusions and deceptions, Baldwin challenges the underlying assumptions in such films as In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and The Exorcist. Here are our loves and hates, biases and cruelties, fears and ignorance reflected by the films that have entertained us and shaped our consciousness. And…
11. James Baldwin: A Biography (2015)
James Baldwin was one of the great writers of the last century. In works that have become part of the American canon—Go Tell It on a Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen—he explored issues of race and racism in America, class distinction, and sexual difference.A gay, African American writer who was born in Harlem, he found the freedom to express himself living in exile in Paris. When he returned to America to cover the Civil Rights movement, he became an activist and controversial spokesman for the movement, writing…
The Cross of Redemption is a revelation by an American literary master: a gathering of essays, articles, polemics, reviews, and interviews that have never before appeared in book form. James Baldwin was one of the most brilliant and provocative literary figures of the past century, renowned for his fierce engagement with issues haunting our common history. In The Cross of Redemption we have Baldwin discoursing on, among other subjects, the possibility of an African-American president and what it might mean; the hypocrisy of American religious fundamentalism; the black church in…
“I was not born to be what someone said I was. I was not born to be defined by someone else, but by myself, and myself only.” When, in the fall of 1987, the poet Quincy Troupe traveled to the south of France to interview James Baldwin, Baldwin’s brother David told him to ask Baldwin about everything—Baldwin was critically ill and David knew that this might be the writer’s last chance to speak at length about his life and work.The result is one of the most eloquent and revelatory interviews of Baldwin’s career, a conversation that ranges widely over such topics as his childhood in Harlem,…
14. Going to Meet the Man: Stories (1995)
"There’s no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it." The men and women in these eight short fictions grasp this truth on an elemental level, and their stories, as told by James Baldwin, detail the ingenious and often desperate ways in which they try to keep their head above water. It may be the heroin that a down-and-out jazz pianist uses to face the terror of pouring his life into an inanimate instrument. It may be the brittle piety of a father who can never forgive his son for his illegitimacy. Or it may be…
Best James Baldwin Books Worth Your Attention
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Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
Author(s): Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Publisher: Crown, Year: 2020, Size: 624 Kb, Download: epub
James Baldwin: Living in Fire
Author(s): Bill V Mullen
Publisher: Pluto Press, Year: 2019, Size: 6 Mb, Download: epub
I Am Not Your Negro
Author(s): James Baldwin, Raoul Peck
Publisher: Vintage, Year: 2017, Size: 6 Mb, Download: epub
James Baldwin: A Biography
Author(s): David Leeming
Publisher: Arcade Publishing, Year: 2015, Size: 4 Mb, Download: epub
All those strangers : the art and lives of James Baldwin
Author(s): Field, Douglas
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Year: 2015, Size: 3 Mb, Download: pdf
James Baldwin: Challenging Authors
Author(s): A. Scott Henderson, P. L. Thomas (eds.)
Publisher: SensePublishers, Year: 2014, Size: 2 Mb, Download: pdf
James Baldwin’s Understanding of God: Overwhelming Desire and Joy
Author(s): Josiah Ulysses Young III
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US, Year: 2014, Size: 2 Mb, Download: pdf
Last Interview and Other Conversations
Author(s): James Baldwin
Publisher: Melville House, Year: 2014, Size: 2 Mb, Download: epub
James Baldwin and the Queer Imagination
Author(s): Matt Brim
Publisher: University of Michigan Press, Year: 2014, Size: 9 Mb, Download: pdf
Please note that this booklist is not absolute. Some books are really hot items according to Chicago Tribune, others are written by unknown authors. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant books you could recommend? Drop a comment if you have any feedback on the list.