12 Must Read Books by Toni Morrison

We have lost a literary pioneer. Toni Morrison passed away at the age of 88 yesterday but her work lives on.

The powerful thing about writing and being a creative is that the work transcends time. Toni Morrison left us with precious jewels which remain on the shelves and that can be added to your personal collection.

BWNC celebrates Toni Morrison. Here, we list all of her books in chronological order and purchase links so you can get your reading on.

1.The Bluest Eye (1970)

The novel, which takes place in Lorain, Ohio, tells the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression. Set in 1941, the story reveals that due to her mannerisms and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as “ugly”. As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with “whiteness”.

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2. Sula (1973)

Sula, Morrison’s second novel, focuses on a young black girl named Sula, who matures into a strong and determined woman in the face of adversity and the distrust, even hatred, of her by the black community in which she lives.

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3. Song of Solomon (1977)

Song of Solomon explores the quest for cultural identity.

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4. Tar Baby (1981)

Tar Baby is Toni Morrison’s reinvention of the love story. Jadine Childs is a black fashion model with a white patron, a white boyfriend, and a coat made out of ninety perfect sealskins. Son is a black fugitive who embodies everything she loathes and desires. As Morrison follows their affair, which plays out from the Caribbean to Manhattan and the deep South, she charts all the nuances of obligation and betrayal between blacks and whites, masters and servants, and men and women.

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5. Beloved (1987)

Beloved is a 1987 novel set after the American Civil War, it is inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in Kentucky late January 1856 by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this novel is one of Morrison’s most well-known.

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6. Jazz (1992)

The majority of the narrative takes place in Harlem during the 1920s; however, as the pasts of the various characters are explored, the narrative extends back to the mid-19th-century American South. The story depicts the love triangle of a door-to-door salesman, his wife, and his teenage girlfriend.

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7. Paradise (1997)

Paradise opens with a horrifying scene of mass violence and chronicles its genesis in an all-black small town in rural Oklahoma. Founded by the descendants of freed slaves and survivors in exodus from a hostile world, the patriarchal community of Ruby is built on righteousness, rigidly enforced moral law, and fear. But seventeen miles away, another group of exiles has gathered in a promised land of their own. And it is upon these women in flight from death and despair that nine male citizens of Ruby will lay their pain, their terror, and their murderous rage.

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8. Love (2003)

This novel is a symphony of passion and hatred, power and perversity, color and class that spans three generations of black women in a fading beach town.

Bill Cosey’s character enjoyed the affections of many women, who would do almost anything to gain his favor. In death his hold on them may be even stronger. Wife, daughter, granddaughter, employee, mistress.

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9. A Mercy (2008)

This story offers insight into the slave trade of the 1680s. It follows an Anglo-Dutch adventurer who takes in a young girl after being traded in a debt payment. With the ability to read and write, she works on his farm, looking for love and protection from her fellow workers.

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10. Home (2012)

Home tells the story of a 24-year-old African-American veteran of the Korean War, and his journey home a year after being discharged from an integrated Army into a segregated homeland.

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11. God Help The Child (2015)

The first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment is a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape and damage the life of the adult.

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12. The Source of Self Regard (2019)

Morrison’s final book before her passing is a collection of her selected essays, speeches and meditations on society, culture, and art spanning four decades.

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