In honor of Maya Angelou‘s 90th birthday, actress and activist Laverne Cox lent her voice to a Google Doodle celebrating Angelou’s seminal piece, And Still I Rise. Of it, Cox wrote: “Dr. Angelou’s work is filled with such incredible wisdom and spiritual teachings. It feels like the ultimate privilege to have the opportunity to speak her words. She is a national treasure.”
Aside from Angelou’s work, Cox sat down with BuzzFeed in 2014 to share the books and writers that most changed her life. Calling Eartha Kitt a “huge possibility icon” and crediting Brené Brown with reframing her thoughts on shame, Cox’s picks center on resilience, self-reliance and strength of spirit.
Read on for the list, and pair with Maya Angelou’s Recommended Reads.
And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
“It’s really Brene Brown’s body of work. Her work around vulnerability and shame, that has truly changed my life. Shame has been such a huge story in my life. As a black trans woman I’ve internalized a lot of shame around those identity groups. This book, and her entire body of work, has been crucial in getting me to rethink shame in my life and build shame resilience.” -LC
“I read this in college and it totally made me think differently about the world around me in terms of race, class, and gender. It awakened my critical consciousness.” -LC
Confessions Of A Sex Kitten by Eartha Kitt
“Confessions Of A Sex Kitten was so major. Eartha Kitt is a huge possibility idol for me. The thing about women like Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, and Diahann Carroll — these black artists in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s — they were making a way out of no way. Eartha’s book, the first paragraph of it I was bawling. It’s just so deep! Her love life I can so relate to as a trans woman. She dated a lot of white men, who dated her privately. They would neverdate her openly or marry her. That’s something I can certainly relate to as a trans woman. She is brilliant and amazing and sexy and smart and political! She was blacklisted for like 10 years. Eartha Kitt is everything, may she rest in peace.” -LC
Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood
“This got me through a really difficult breakup. It made me think about issues of co-dependence and letting go.” -LC