1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I wish my teachers assigned this book when I was a senior in high school (some parents can’t allow their nearly-adult kids to learn about racism, rape, and teen pregnancy). I was so impressed by Maya Angelou’s ability to observe and remember the details of her life as a young girl, as a student, as an older sister, as an African American living in pre-Civil Rights Era Arkansas, and as a resident of WWII-era San Francisco, and weave them into a poetic autobiography in which every passage is meaningful.

I didn’t really plan it, but I’m also glad to have read this over the MLK Jr. holiday. Reading a book set mostly in the South and rife with depictions of civil injustices tends to give more meaning to the holiday, you know?

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