Progressive visionary, philosopher, activist, author and orator Cornel West has dedicated his career to education and social justice. Best known for his classic books, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, as well as the memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, West’s work draws from Christian, Marxist, and transcendentalist traditions to explore race, gender and class issues in American society.

In a reading list for Newsweek, West included seminal tomes by Plato, Chekhov, and Toni Morrison. Find his recommendations below, and complement with the bookshelves of Angela Davis, bell hooks, Noam Chomsky, Malcolm X and MLK.


The Republic by Plato (also rec’d by Carl Sagan, Martin Luther King Jr.Viggo Mortensen)

“So much of the most profound thought in the West is a serious wrestling with issues raised by this book.” -CW

The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov

“In his greatest play, Chekhov makes deep disappointment our constant companion, yet we prevail.” -CW

Beloved by Toni Morrison (also rec’d by Elena Ferrante, Liz Phair & Margaret Atwood)

“The author looks unflinchingly at the catastrophic with grace and dignity.” -CW

The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel

“He lays bare the roles of righteous indignation and indifference in justice.” -CW

In Praise of Folly by Erasmus

“He shows how we all, particularly Christians, should try to laugh at ourselves and love others.” -CW

(via Newsweek)

Categories: Activists Writers

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