James Baldwin

James Baldwin was an American writer and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son, explore intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America. Baldwin's novels and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. Go Tell it on the Mountain

    This novel explores the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community. It also, more broadly, examines the role of the Pentecostal Church in the African American experience. The narrative focuses on a fourteen-year-old boy's struggle to discover his identity amidst a family filled with secrets and a life marked by a religious community's strict moral code.

    The 261st Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Giovanni's Room

    The novel explores themes of identity, sexuality, and societal norms in mid-20th century Paris. The protagonist, an American man, grapples with his homosexual identity while engaged to a woman. His life takes a turn when he becomes involved with an Italian bartender, leading to a tumultuous relationship filled with passion, guilt, and self-loathing. The story is a poignant examination of the human struggle for acceptance and the destructive consequences of denying one's true self.

    The 262nd Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Another Country

    "Another Country" is a profound exploration of racial, sexual, and creative issues in 1950s Manhattan. The story follows the lives of various characters, including a jazz drummer, a Southern white woman, and a black playwright, among others. As the narrative unfolds, it delves into their struggles with identity, prejudice, and interpersonal relationships, offering a raw and unflinching portrayal of America's social and cultural landscape during a time of intense change and conflict.

    The 550th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Notes of a Native Son

    This book is a collection of essays that vividly capture the author's life in Harlem, his travels in Europe, and his views on everything from the sweet music of black church revivals to the biting prejudice of the 'then' contemporary world. It's an exploration of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in both Western societies and the American society. The author's reflections on his experiences as a black man in white America are profoundly insightful and continue to resonate today.

    The 826th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Fire Next Time

    This book is a powerful exploration of race relations in America in the early 1960s. The author presents his experiences and observations in the form of two essays. The first is a letter to his 14-year-old nephew, discussing the role of race in American history. The second essay takes a broader look at the civil rights movement and the author's own experiences with religion and identity. Throughout, the author presents a passionate plea for the recognition of the humanity and dignity of all people, regardless of race.

    The 1151st Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. If Beale Street Could Talk

    The novel is a poignant exploration of love and racial injustice, set in 1970s Harlem. It follows the story of a young African-American couple, Tish and Fonny, whose dreams for a future together are shattered when Fonny is falsely accused of rape. As Fonny languishes in jail, Tish, pregnant with their child, and her family fight tirelessly to prove his innocence. Through a narrative that weaves past and present, the book delves into the couple's deep bond, the systemic oppression they face, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of a deeply flawed justice system.

    The 1986th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Devil Finds Work

    "The Devil Finds Work" is a compelling essay that critiques the portrayal of race and identity in American cinema. Through personal reflections and sharp analysis, the author examines how movies have both shaped and reflected the racial prejudices and societal norms of their times. The essay delves into various films, critiquing their narratives and the roles offered to Black actors, while intertwining the author's own experiences with race, media, and his evolving consciousness. This work challenges readers to reconsider the impact of cinema on individual perception and broader cultural attitudes towards race.

    The 4381st Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Early Novels and Stories

    "Early Novels and Stories" is a compilation of works by a renowned 20th-century writer, exploring themes of racial, sexual, and personal identity against the backdrop of mid-century America. The collection includes several novels and short stories, each delving into the experiences of African Americans and the societal pressures they face. Notably, the narratives often highlight the intersections of race, sexuality, and religion, providing a profound and nuanced exploration of the human condition.

    The 7900th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Price Of A Ticket

    "The Price of a Ticket" is a collection of essays that delve into the complexities of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, particularly in mid-20th-century America. The author, a prominent African American writer and social critic, explores themes of identity, oppression, and liberation through personal narratives and cultural critiques. His incisive prose examines the struggles of black individuals in a society marred by discrimination and injustice, while also offering insights into the broader human condition and the universal quest for freedom and equality. The work serves as a powerful commentary on the social and political issues of its time, many of which continue to resonate in contemporary discourse.

    The 8413th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Nobody Knows My Name

    "Nobody Knows My Name" is a compelling collection of essays that delve into the complexities of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, particularly in mid-20th-century America. The author explores his own experiences as a Black man in a time of tumultuous social change, reflecting on his life in Europe and America, and his interactions with other prominent intellectuals and cultural figures. Through poignant analysis and personal reflection, the essays examine themes of identity, belonging, and the painful quest for recognition in a society deeply divided by race and culture.

    The 8745th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. No Name In The Street

    This book offers a profound and personal reflection on the American civil rights movement and the author's experiences during this tumultuous period. Through a blend of essays and personal recollections, the work delves into the psychological and social impacts of racism, exploring the author's interactions with key figures of the era and his observations on the struggle for racial equality. The narrative weaves together personal experiences with broader social analysis, providing a deep and introspective look at the moral challenges faced by both individuals and society in confronting systemic injustice.

    The 8745th Greatest Book of All Time