Stories are powerful. Through an author’s work, they can transport you to new locations, place you into unimagined situations, and allow you a window into different lives and perspectives. Just as journalists construct stories to inform, dissect, and understand our world, authors create pathways within their works that guide you to resonate with new contexts and views. In the previous 5 Voices blog, 5 Voices to Amplify on Twitter: Tech Founder Edition, we spotlighted respected and notable leaders redefining the tech industry. This week, we wanted to spotlight voices whose works have not only impacted the audiences of their time but also continue to influence generations both today and to come.
This, by no means, is an exhaustive list of the best stories on these complex topics but rather an entry point into one’s own literary journey. We bring you 5 Voices to Amplify: Authors Edition:
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”
Race, Institutional Racism, Black Culture, and Social Justice
In a captivating collection of letters from him to his teenage son, Ta-Nehisi Coates accounts his life growing up as a young black man in the United States. Written recently after the Ferguson protests, Coates dissects the history of race in America and the social institutions that black people operate within. This book is a potent analysis of American culture and shines a light on the familial discourses happening in black families about their relationships with larger forces in society. Published in 2015, Coates won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in addition to being a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. This book is a great entry for an honest and sincere dialogue about race in the United States.
James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
Identity, Masculinity, Sexuality
Considered one of the most renowned authors of the twentieth century, James Baldwin is widely known for his deep analysis of the often overlooked but communal experiences of life. Giovanni’s Room is one of those stories. In an intimate account from the point of view of David, a young American man living in Paris, James Balwin masterfully depicts the nuanced conversations about sexuality, masculinity, and identity. This story is often regarded as a fundamental cornerstone of queer literature for its honest and raw portrayal of desire and the human experience. Check out this book for an enlightening walk through the mind of a literary great.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
Why did people ask ‘What is it about?’ as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”
Race, Gender, and Immigration
Published in 2013, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah ardently portrays the story of a young Nigerian woman’s immigration to the United States for education and the realizations she discovers along the way. Adichie’s novel is a unique analysis of americanization, race, gender, and one’s culture. Adichie won the 2013 U.S National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction for Americanah and its critique on the intersections of culture and identity. This book offers a great perspective on American Culture through a non-American lens.
Angela Davis, Women, Race And Class
‘Woman’ was the test, but not every woman seemed to qualify. Black women, of course, were virtually invisible within the protracted campaign for woman suffrage.”
Feminism, Gender, Sex, Civil Rights
Since her historic 1972 trial, Angela Davis has been a steadfast activist, academic, and author around conversations of class, feminism, and race. In her book, Women, Race, and Class, Davis constructs a collection of essays accounting the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s as well as the history of slavery in the United States. It is a complex, well-written, and digestible critique of the intersecting impacts of these various forces. This is a fantastic introductory piece of literature for those looking to learn more about intersectionality and the history of these complex issues in the United States.
David Sheff, Beautiful Boy
A world of contradictions, wherein everything is gray and almost nothing is black and white.”
Addiction, Family, Substance Abuse
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction is a raw and honest account of father and notable writer David Sheff’s journey through his son’s methamphetamine addiction. A follow-up to his New York Times Magazine article, My Addicted Son, Beautiful Boy exposes the vulnerable truth behind familial substance abuse and its rippling effects. Recently adapted into an Academy-Award nominated movie, this memoir is a fascinating window into addiction and the humanity behind all those suffering because of it.
Like a chapter in one of these fantastic novels, let these recommendations be the opening into your exploration through literature. In today’s nonstop society, sitting with a novel can be just as cathartic and eye-opening as the latest breaking news headline or deep dive. Know of a great addition to this list? Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tweet us your recommendations!