Ta-Nehisi Coates's Reading List

By Maira Liriano, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division
October 23, 2015
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Last night Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of the current bestseller Between the World and Me and National Correspondent for The Atlantic, was at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture as part of our public program series, Between the Lines. Mr. Coates was brilliantly interviewed by New York Times Magazine and ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. Throughout the conversation, there was talk about books. 

If you want to watch the program, it's available at Livestream.com

The following are all the books recommended by Ta-Nehisi Coates (and one video) during his mesmerising talk at the Schomburg Center (in the order as they were mentioned). As Mr. Coates said, "folks who are not familiar with black literature, read this book and read a ton of other books." 

Collected essays / James Baldwin.

The Fire Next Time in Collected Essays by James Baldwin.

Published in 1963, it contains two essays: "My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation," and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind." 

The night of the gun : a reporter investigates the darkest story of his life, his own / David Carr.
The half has never been told : slavery and the making of American capitalism / Edward E. Baptist.
Battle Cry of Freedom : The Era of the Civil War by James McPherson.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War by James McPherson.












​ Damage done by a bomb; This bomb was thrown into a building at 3365 Indiana Avenue, occupied by Negroes.

Image from another book, The Negro in Chicago; a study of race relations and a race riot in 1919.

Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black urban America by Beryl Satter.
The Dis-United States; Or the Southern Confederacy.

Image to accompany the digitized declaration

Showdown : Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court nomination that changed America / Wil Haygood.
American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia by Edmund S. Morgan.

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields. 

When and Where I Enter : The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings.
Ida : a sword among lions : Ida B. Wells and the campaign against lynching / Paula J. Giddings.

Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching by Paula J. Giddings.

Coates said this book is "criminally underrated." 

Out of the house of bondage: the transformation of the plantation household by Thavolia Glymph.

Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph.

This book is the only footnote in Between the World and Me.

Coates said it is "essential" reading. 





Ta-Nehisi Coates also spent a great deal of time describing and recommending the video of the 1965 historic debate between James Baldwin v. William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University on the question: "Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?" Watch the video from Mr. Coates's blog post.

More from Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

"The Case for Reparations." The Atlantic, June 2014.

"The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration." The Atlantic. October 2015.