as the caged bird sings

Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.
—  Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Lots of people, including myself, have included “read more books” on their list of New Year’s Resolutions. So I thought I’d compile some book recommendations to provide you guys with inspiration! In no particular order, here’s a list of 101 books I’ve read and loved.


  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (my all-time favorite!)
  2. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  3. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  4. Sabriel by Garth Nix
  5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  6. Room by Emma Donoghue
  7. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  8. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  9. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  10. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  11. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  12. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  13. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  14. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
  15. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  16. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  17. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  18. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  19. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  20. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (an underrated but oh-so-beautiful book)
  21. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  22. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  23. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  24. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (duh)
  25. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  26. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  27. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  28. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  29. The Odyssey by Homer (I recommend the Robert Fagles translation)
  30. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  31. It by Stephen King
  32. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  33. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  34. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (even better if you can read it in the original French!)
  35. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  36. Savvy by Ingrid Law
  37. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  38. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  39. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  40. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  41. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  42. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  43. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  44. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  45. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
  46. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  47. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  48. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  49. Hunger by Knut Hamsun
  50. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  51. The World According to Garp by John Irving
  52. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  53. The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  54. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (love, love, love!)
  55. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  56. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  57. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  58. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  59. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  60. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  61. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  62. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  63. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  64. 1984 by George Orwell
  65. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  66. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  67. The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
  68. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  69. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (a book whose message is especially relevant in light of the recent election)
  70. Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran


  1. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  3. Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be by Frank Bruni (a must-read for anyone stressed out about college admissions and the Ivy League hype)
  4. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  5. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
  6. salt. by Nayyirah Waheed
  7. Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly
  8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  9. The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace
  10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  11. Night by Elie Wiesel
  12. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  13. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  14. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  15. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (this is the memoir that baby memoirs want to be when they grow up)
  16. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
  17. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  18. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  19. The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir
  20. Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon
  21. How to Become a Straight‑A Student by Cal Newport
  22. The Color of Water by James McBride
  23. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  24. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  25. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  26. The Road to Character by David Brooks
  27. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (all of Gladwell’s books are great tbh)
  28. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  29. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  30. No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay
  31. Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn

P.S. If you’re trying to read more in 2017, check out my posts about goal-setting and habits!

Thanks for reading! If you have questions, feedback, or post requests, feel free to drop me an ask.

+Click here for the rest of my original reference posts!

Sophia :)

Below is a list of some highly recommended books written by people of color (in no particular order). They span across a wide variety of genres and target audiences. Thank you to everyone who submitted their favorites and helped make this list possible! Known triggers are in parentheses next to the books they apply to, but if there is something that has been missed or there’s a book you’d like me to add, please don’t hesitate to let me know! Happy reading! 

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (rape, murder, child abuse, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, slavery)
The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri
Migritude - Shailija Patel (gore, violence, rape mentions, abuse)
The God of Small Things - Arundathi Roy (child abuse, sex)
Joys of Motherhood - Buchi Emecheta (starvation, poverty, gore, and suicide)
Distant View of a Minaret - Alifa Rifaat (castration and death)
White Teeth - Zadie Smith 
Emails from Scheherazade - Mohja Kahf (sexual violence)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz (transphobic language/violence, homophobic violence)
Boy Snow Bird - Helen Oyeyemi
Sister of My Heart - Chitra Banerjee Divakurani 
Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi 
The Meursault Investigation - Kamel Daoud
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
The Summer Prince - Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Noughts and Crosses series - Malorie Blackman
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini (rape, murder, child abuse, domestic violence)
And The Mountain Echoed - Khaled Hosseini (rape, child abuse)
The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing - Mira Karoll
Born Confused - Tanuja Desai Hidier
The Queen of Water - Laura Resau and María Virginia Farinango (child abuse, sexual harassment/child sexual abuse, racism, internalized racism, internalized shadism)
Time to Dance - Padma Venkatraman
Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri (implications of rape and sexual harassment)
Veronika Decides to Die - Paulo Coelho
Astonishing the Gods - Ben Okri
Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami
Fasting Feasting - Anita Desai
The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi
Drown - Junot Diaz
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
Reservation Blues - Sherman Alexie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie (eating disorder)
The Age of Shiva - Manil Suri
The Kitchen God’s Wife - Amy Tan
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel - Sara Farizan
By the Light of My Father’s Smile - Alice Walker
A Case of Exploding Mangoes - Mohammed Hanif
No God but God - Reza Aslan
The Palace of Illusions - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
Babji - Abha Dawesar
Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri (implications of rape and sexual harassment)
Funny Boy - Shyam Selvadurai (violence, rape mention)
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros (sexual assault)
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Brick Lane - Monica Ali
No Longer Human - Osamu Dazai
A Bad Character - Deepti Kapoor (death, abusive relationships)
Karma and Other Stories - Rishi Reddi
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas
Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
Climbing the Stairs - Padma Venkatraman
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison (heavily implied child sexual assault)
Coin Locker Babies - Ryu Murakami
The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
Please Look After Mom - Shin Kyung Sook
Bonsai Kitten - Lakshmi Narayan
Written in the Stars - Aisha Saeed 
The Hero’s Walk - Anita Rau Badami
Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
Beloved - Toni Morrison
Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi
The Golden Age - Tahmima Anam
Season of Migration to the North - Tayib Saleh
Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami
Snow - Orhan Pamuk
Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
The President - Miguel Asturias (extreme violence, rape)
The Hungry Ghosts - Shyam Selvadurai
The Skin I’m In - Sharon G. Flake
Black Boy - Richard Wright
Cinnamon Gardens - Shyam Selvadurai
1Q84 - Haruki Murakami (domestic violence, horror, violence, pedophilia)
She of the Mountains - Vivek Shraya (explicit sex)
Island of a Thousand Mirrors - Nayomi Munaweera (rape, violence)
Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew - Shehan Karunatilaka
Broken Circle - Theodore Fontaine (child sexual abuse, alcoholism, anti-Native sentiment)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Moth Smoke - Mohsin Hamid
Burnt Shadows, Kratography, Salt and Saffron - Kamila Shamsie
Last Man in Tower - Aravind Adiga
Birds of Paradise Lost - Andrew Lam
Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
Bitter Melon - Cara Chow (child abuse)
Q&A - Vikas Swarup
Five Point Someone - Chetan Bhagat
Motorcycles and Sweetgrass - Drew Hayden Taylor 
Lakota Woman - Mary Crow-Dog
Legend Trilogy - Marie Lu
The Young Elites - Marie Lu
The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir (rape, abuse)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Grace Lin
Half of A Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (rape mentions, graphic gang rape, and extreme gore/violence)
Children of The Jacaranda Tree - Sahar Delijani
The Twentieth Wife - Indu Sundaresan
Destiny’s Captive - Beverly Jenkins 
Tiny Pretty Things - Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (eating disorders, bullying, family issues)
Lakota Woman - Mary Brave Bird (child abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse)
Flight - Sherman Alexie (child abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse)
Nervous Conditions - Tsitsi Dangerembga (violence, eating disorders and mental illness)
Redefining Realness - Janet Mock (child sexual assault, child abuse, transphobia)
The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston
Under the Udala Trees - Chinelo Okparanta (homophobia, violence against LGBT+ women)
The Ghost Bride - Yangsze Choo 
The Shiva Trilogy - Amish Tripathi (rape)
The Krishna Key - Ashwin Sanghi
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before - Jenny Han
The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

Shatter Me Trilogy - Tahereh Mafi
The promise - Nikita Singh
When Only Love Remains - Durjoy Datta
Nectar in a Sieve - Kamala Markandaya
Chords of Strength - David Archuleta
This Bridge Called My Back - Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga 
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami (rape/suicide mentions)
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou (rape)
Draupadi: The Fire-Born Princess - Saraswati Nagpal
The Hybrid Chronicles - Kat Zhang (child abuse, violence)
Esperanza Rising - Pam Muñoz Ryan
Becoming Naomi Leon - Pam Muñoz Ryan
The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
Out of My Mind - Sharon Draper
Ghana Must Go - Taiye Selasi
Difficult Daughters - Manju Kapoor
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez (violence, explicit sex, death)
Birdie - Tracy Lindberg
Burn For Burn - Jenny Han
Mãn - Kim Thúy 
Huntress - Malinda Lo 
A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
From Heaven Lake - Vikram Seth
Two Lives - Vikram Seth
Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil
Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler (violence)
The Mango Bride - Marivi Soliven (abuse)
Between Two Worlds - Roxana Saberi
When the Elephants Dance - Tess Holthe (rape)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
A Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez (violence, explicit sex, death)
La Vie et Demie - Sony Labou Tansi - French (gore, sexual violence)
Girls of Riyadh - Rajaa Alsanea (homophobia, racism) 
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives - Lola Shoneyin
I Do Not Come to You by Chance - Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
26a - Diana Evans 
Cloth Girl - Marilyn Heward Mills
Lowlands - Jhumpa Lahiri
The Hidden Star - K. Sello Duiker
kemi’s journal - Abidemi Sanusi 
Imagine This - Vickie M. Stringer 
God’s Bits of Wood - Sembene Ousmane
Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Gabriel García Márquez (violence, explicit sex, death)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X -  Malcolm X (trigger warnings for rape, racism, death)
Roots - Alex Haley
Sultana’s Dream - Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain
The Crossover - Kwame Alexander
I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia - Jenny Torres Sanchez
When Reason Breaks - Cindy Rodriguez 
Los Perros - Lorea Canales - Spanish
The Secret Side of Empty - Maria E. Andreu 
The Wake of the White Tiger - Diamond Shamsher Rana
Blue Mimosa - Parijat - best read in its original language of Nepali 
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison (child sexual abuse, racism, violence, animal abuse, body image)
Empress Orchid - Anchee Min
Annihilation of Caste - B.R. Ambedkar
Palace Walk - Naguib Mahfouz 
How to Be Drawn - Terrance Hayes
When My Brother Was an Aztec - Natalie Diaz (explicit sex, drug references)
Boy With Thorn - Rickey Laurentiis
Between The World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates (police brutality)
Breath, Eyes, Memory -  Edwidge Danticat  
I Too Had A Love Story - Ravinder Singh
Can Love Happen Twice? - Ravinder Singh
Boys Don’t Cry - Malorie Blackman
If You Could Be Mine - Sara Farizan
Ash - Malinda Lo
Pig Heart Boy - Malorie Blackman (death)
The Pearl that Broke Its Shell - Nadia Hashimi
Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodsen
The Nexus Trilogy by Ramez Naam (violence, death, torture, abuse, ableism) 
Umrao Jaan Ada - Mirza Hadi Ruswa - Urdu
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? - Beverly Daniel Tatum
Citizen - Claudia Rankin
This is How You Lose Her - Junot Diaz
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth - Warsan Shire
Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera
Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison (violence, death, racism)
Who Am I Without Him? - Sharon G. Flake
Farewell to Manzanar - Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston 

18 Sept 16 — messy messy non-desk desk. 2 weeks and I’ll be back in Cambridge after a stupid number of months off for summer. !!! Currently reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and couldn’t recommend it more; I’m underlining and annotating like a possessed Lit student.