The Book That Changed My Life

The poet Charles Wright? The answer: The Selected Poems of Ezra Pound.
The novelist Stephen King? The answer: Lord of the Flies.
The question: What book changed your life?

The National Book Foundation asked our most distinguished writers what book changed their lives. There, you’ll find writers like Nikki Giovanni talking about James Baldwin:

The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin is the book that influenced my writing more than any other because it taught me the truth could be plainly said. Baldwin’s searing essay utilized all the elements of my life: the Church and the Bible (and they are definitely different); the musical cadence of gospel songs and the blues; plus, which is most important to me, I saw that the evidence of my own heart and mind could inform my muse. I did not have to seek an alien form in order to tell the stories of my people.

If I were choosing five books that I think made a major difference to me I would select:

The Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

The Selected Poems of Gwendolyn Brooks

The Negro Caravan: Writings by American Negroes, edited by Sterling A. Brown, Arthur P. Davis and Ulysses Lee

Dark Symphony: Negro Literature in America, edited by James A. Emanuel and Theodore L. Gross

Eight Men, by Richard Wright


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