I can’t say that I keep a close eye on my own library as I should. If the cover is beautiful, I must have it. In that case, send me 10 copies. Because of this, my bookshelves (and now my book cart) are full. Afterward, that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. In the last few weeks, my sister and brother-in-law moved into their new home. They have a wall of bookshelves to fill with books (literally, my dream). “What books should we have in our home library?” was the only question I was asked about decor or furniture. Now, I would say that this is the worst kind of question to ask someone who doesn’t think very hard about which books to buy. As soon as I saw it, I took it on. Award-winning books, must-read biographies, and authors on their way to becoming literary icons. As a group, these books come from some of the most powerful (new or old) voices of the last 50 years. They’re not all from the same authors, but they’re all from some of the most powerful (new or old) voices of the last 50 years.
The Library Book
by Susan Orlean
You probably think it’s a no-brainer to have a book about libraries in your own library. In fact, Susan Orlean’s whole body of work is a good example of the kind of journalism that you should have on your shelves.
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
People who read Nigerian literature are very important to me (it makes up literally almost all of it). For me, it all started with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book, AMERICANAH, which everyone loves. When I find a great piece of literature, I always try to get it into the hands of people in my family who might be able to relate to the protagonist. There are things that my family has been through with Ifemelu when she came to the United States from Nigeria. And this is just one novel from the tidal wave of Nigerian lit I would recommend; THE FISHERMEN by Chigozie Obioma, A PARTICULAR KIND OF BLACK MAN by Tope Folarin, and MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite all deserve a spot in your library.
by Alexander Chee
KITE RUNNER and EDINBURGH are two of my favorite coming-of-age stories about friendship, regret, and redemption. These books are great for when you need to think about your situation, get a new perspective, or just cry a little. Fee, a Korean American boy, has just been chosen to lead his local boys’ choir. As a result, Fee’s silence leads to the abuse of his best friend. Years after his friend killed himself, Fee meets a young boy who looks just like his friend, and he has to face his shameful past.
by Stephen King
A lot of Stephen King’s work is very well-known. DIFFERENT SEASONS is the name of the collection of short stories he wrote. Two famous movies came out of it: Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. This is a good collection for everyone, because I’m one of the few people in my family who can read something scary.
by Michelle Obama
When former FLOTUS Michelle Obama wrote her autobiography, it was one of the most popular books ever. It has been read by millions and is on the shelves of a lot of people’s home libraries. In BECOMING, Barack Obama tells the story of how he came to be who he is. It is both unique and universal. In addition, this book is a great way to remember the most important events in history over the last 50 years, since Mrs. Obama has lived through a lot of it. This helped shape her as a person and a leader.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
by Samin Nosrat, illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton
There is a good chance that Samin Nosrat’s book, “Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat,” is already on their shelves. Whether you’re a novice cook or a seasoned chef, Nosrat’s book is for you. It starts with the basics: salt, fat, acid, and heat. This book comes with illustrations and recipes. It should be next to your copy of THE JOY OF COOKING.
The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
You should always have some sobering and cautionary books on your shelf. Many people say that life is like art. Another book you should read is 1984 by George Orwell. The Hulu series THE HANDMAID’S TALE is based on a dystopian future in which the United States is in the middle of a second civil war and is under totalitarian rule. The few fertile women are enslaved, and the few who aren’t are kept as slaves. Margaret Atwood’s new book, THE TESTAMENTS, should be on your shelf while you’re at it. As soon as you finish this sequel, you’re going to want to read the first one.
The Source of Self-Regard
by Toni Morrison
Get to know the people who came up with famous works like BELOVED and THE BLUEST EYE. Before she died, Toni Morrison wrote a book of essays, speeches, and reflections on culture and social issues. It’s important to have THE SOURCE OF SELF-RESPECT in your own library, along with all of Morrison’s other books. It’s a book that you’ll likely come back to for help or perspective.
The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead
With THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY, Colson Whitehead’s work might be his most groundbreaking. Colson Whitehead’s whole body of work should be in your book collection. His books use magical realism, science fiction, and Afrofuturism to change the way people talk about race and identity. But if you want to buy books “responsibly” and start with one at a time, start with his Pulitzer Prize-winning book about a young slave who escapes on a real-life Underground Railroad.
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
A short story is an important part of everyone’s literary diet, no matter how many you read at once or how many you read between books (the latter is my preference). People who are young and black in the United States are shown how it’s like to be both in FRIDAY BLACK. The stories show what it’s like to be young and black in the United States from a new point of view and voice. Black Mirror meets Atlanta’s day-to-day vibe and makes it even worse. Adjei-stories Brenyah’s deal with important issues, like racism and unrest, prejudice in the justice system, and the terrors of the world.
Leonardo da Vinci
by Walter Isaacson
Having a biography by Walter Isaacson in your home library is a must for any library that is worth its salt! In his job, my brother-in-law is very interested in art, so he would love this detailed biography of one of the best-known artists in history. It’s a good coffee table book if you want to own all of Isaacson’s big books about people who are bigger than life and run out of space on your bookshelves.
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Let’s be honest: We can’t get over this book that won an award. The best way to make sure that the books in your library are truly great is to look for the Pulitzer Prize seal on the cover. An Anthony Doerr book set in World War II-era France won the award in 2015, and it hasn’t stopped getting praise since then. It’s going to be a Netflix show soon, and this book about history is best read every few years.