Read Harder: Read a Classic Written by an Author of Color

We’re getting towards the end of the Read Harder challenges list!  If you need a refresher on how Read Harder works, click here to view the original post on Book Riot and click here to see all of the challenges listed in one place.

This week’s challenge centers around classic books written by non-white authors.  We’re all familiar with classic titles like Grapes of Wrath, Great Expectations, and Dracula, but most of these books that we’re most familiar with were written by white men.  This week’s challenge is designed to get us looking past the familiar and searching out books from different perspectives.  Now, the word “classic” can mean a lot of things to different readers, so in this blog post, I’m using a very loose definition.  Some of the books were written within the last 20-30 years, while others are much older, but they can all be found here at the library.  If you want to search out more books on your own, I’ve included a couple links at the bottom of the post that can lead you to even more reads!  As always, click on a book cover or a title in this blog post to place a hold.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

“Traces the lives of the Truebas, beginning with clairvoyant Clara del Valle’s summoning of the man she intends to marry, ambitious Esteban Trueba, and following their participation in the history of their times which is their destiny.”






Octavia  E. Butler’s Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

“More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century. Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre-Civil War South.”



The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes–sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–Sandra Cisneros’ masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery.”





Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

“Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother’s womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef.”



All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
306.7 HOO

All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all. Visionary and original, hooks shows how love heals the wounds we bear as individuals and as a nation, for it is the cornerstone of compassion and forgiveness and holds the power to overcome shame.”


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

“The story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedloe, a black girl who prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her , so that her world will be different.”






Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

“The life of a man born at the moment of India’s independence becomes inextricably linked to that of his nation and is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirror modern India’s course.”






Tales From The Arabian Nights – transl. by Sir Richard Francis Burton

“First collected nearly a thousand years ago, these folktales are presented as narratives that crafty Scheharazade tells her husband, Shahryar, the King of Persia, over a thousand-and-one consecutive nights, to pique his interest for the next evening’s entertainment and thereby save her life. Among them are some of the best-known legends of eastern storytelling, including the tales Sinbad the Sailor, Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.”




The Color Purple by Alice Walker

“Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.”




And check out these reading lists for even more suggestions!

Happy reading!

—Katie, Adult Reference