The ZORA Canon Reading Project

Hi, folks!

The ZORA Canon is a list of the 100 greatest books ever written by African American women, compiled by ZORA. I am turning this list into a long-term reading project, and I will update this post as I go along. You will be able to find a link to this post in my projects page.

As of now [February 28, 2020], I’ve read 12 books, which will be listed below. Read books are marked as (✓). Favourites are in bold. My reviews, when available, will be linked below. Crossed off books denote the ones I either will not read or started reading and did not finish (DNFs).


Click on the links below to read my reviews, when available:

  • Books I’ve read: 18/ 100 [Update November 13, 2020]
  • Source of the list: ZORA
  1. Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, by Harriet E. Wilson (1859)
  2. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs (1861)
  3. A Voice From the South: By a Black Woman of the South, by Anna Julia Cooper (1892)
  4. ✓ Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted, by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1892)
  5. The Red Record by Ida B. Wells (1895)
  6. There Is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1924)
  7. Quicksand by Nella Larsen (1928)
  8. Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)
  9.  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
  10. Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston (1938)
  11. Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston (1939)
  12. The Street by Ann Petry (1946)
  13. Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953)
  14. Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall (1959)
  15. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
  16. Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks (1963)
  17. Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy (1964)
  18. Jubilee by Margaret Walker (1966)
  19. The Flagellants by Carlene Hatcher Polite (1967)
  20. The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton (1968)
  21. Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody (1968)
  22. ✓ I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)
  23. ✓ To Be Young, Gifted, and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words by Lorraine Hansberry (1969)
  24. The Black Woman: An Anthology by Toni Cade Bambara (1970)
  25. We a BaddDDD People by Sonia Sanchez (1970)
  26. The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker (1970)
  27. Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara (1972)
  28. ✓ Sula by Toni Morrison (1973)
  29. Oreo by Fran Ross (1974)
  30. Corregidora by Gayl Jones (1975)
  31. Eva’s Man by Gayl Jones (1976)
  32. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange (1976)
  33. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)
  34. Meridian by Alice Walker (1976)
  35. ✓ Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)
  36. I’ve Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems by Sonia Sanchez (1978)
  37. Black Macho and the Myth of the Black Superwoman by Michele Wallace (1979)
  38. The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara (1980)
  39. The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou (1981)
  40. Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis (1981)
  41. Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks (1981)
  42. All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave, edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith (1982)
  43. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde (1982)
  44. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor (1982)
  45. Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo by Ntozake Shange (1982)
  46. ✓ The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)
  47. Fish Tales by Nettie Jones (1983)
  48. Homegirls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith (1983)
  49. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker (1983)
  50. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings (1984)
  51. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (1984)
  52. Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor (1985)
  53. Radiance From the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art by Sylvia Ardyn Boone (1986)
  54. Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove (1986)
  55. Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks (1987)
  56. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
  57. Assata by Assata Shakur (1988)
  58. Black-Eyed Susans and Midnight Birds: Stories by and About Black Women, edited by Mary Helen Washington (1989)
  59. Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory by Michele Wallace (1990)
  60. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan (1992)
  61. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (1993)
  62. Ugly Ways by Tina McElroy Ansa (1993)
  63. The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas (1994)
  64. The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968–1995 (1996)
  65. Killing the Black Body by Dorothy E. Roberts (1997)
  66. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (1998)
  67. Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class by Mary Pattillo-McCoy (1999)
  68. Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks (2000)
  69. Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks (2001)
  70. Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision by Barbara Ransby (2003)
  71. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (2005)
  72. Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan, edited by Jan Heller Levi and Sara Miles (2005)
  73. Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey (2006)
  74. African American Music: An Introduction by Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby (2006)
  75. All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830–1900 by Martha S. Jones (2007)
  76. Blue-Chip Black by Karyn R. Lacy (2007)
  77. A Mercy by Toni Morrison (2008)
  78. Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith (2008)
  79. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (2010)
  80. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (2010)
  81. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (2011)
  82. The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser (2012)
  83. The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction Into Ethnic Factions by Vilna Bashi Treitler (2013)
  84. Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons, and Love Affairs by Pearl Cleage (2014)
  85. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (2014)
  86. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne (2015)
  87. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (2015)
  88. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School by Monique W. Morris (2015)
  89. Sweat by Lynn Nottage (2015)
  90. Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice by Carla Shedd (2015)
  91. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (2016)
  92. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins (2016)
  93. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, by Angela Y. Davis, edited by Frank Barat (2016)
  94. Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women by Brittney C. Cooper (2017)
  95. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (2017)
  96. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (2017)
  97. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (2018)
  98. Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin (2019)
  99. Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman (2019)
  100. Magical Negro by Morgan Parker (2019)

This is it for now, folks! If you fancy doing a readalong with me of any of the books I haven’t read yet, let me know! 🙂

Yours truly,

J.


Atmospheric Effects I, by Alma Woodsey Thomas, 1970

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6 thoughts on “The ZORA Canon Reading Project

  1. I haven’t heard of the Zora Canon before, I’ve often though referred to the Daughter’s of Africa list, which reaches widely across languages and countries providing a diversity within itself that suits my particular desire to read across many different cultures.

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