Best known for her breakout role on Netflix’s hit series Orange is the New Black, Nigerian-American actress Uzo Aduba has quickly become one of the most acclaimed and sought-after performers on screen and on stage. Her riveting portrayal of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren made Emmy history, as she was the first woman to win awards in both the comedy and drama categories for the same role.
Aduba was also seen on television alongside Queen Latifah, Common, and Mary J. Blige in the NBC musical special The Wiz Live!, and won her third Emmy for the role of Shirley Chisholm in the Hulu miniseries Mrs. America. She made her stage debut at the West End Theatre in Jamie Lloyd’s production of Jean Genet’s The Maids, while her film credits include 2016’s American Pastoral, 2016’s Showing Roots, 2018’s Candy Jar and 2019’s Miss Virginia. Aduba currently stars in the revival of HBO’s therapy-focused drama In Treatment.
Sharing her 10 all-time favorite books with NY-based bookstore One Grand, the actress spoke on the enthralling dramatics of Charles Dickens, the treasures found in rereading The Alchemist, and the captivating evolution of Malcolm X. Find her reading list below.
Uzo Aduba’s Reading List
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
“I read this book in Kindergarten. As a child born to immigrants, it reminded me that even though things can look different to the outside eye, in the end they are all the same, and all taste delicious.” -UA
“My tribe were the primary victims of this wretched war, and like most who have survived the sights of war, they don’t like to talk about it because they are hard, very real memories. I knew pieces of my family’s story during this time, but when I read this book, I felt like I suddenly understood who my parents, aunts, and uncles were and what part of their formative years had entailed.” -UA
“One of the last great men. His entire life was an education on how to be better, and this book reflects two things for me: greatness and the measure of a human, and how the essence of bravery can take many forms.” -UA
“I read this for the first time my sophomore year in high school. This is where I fell in love with The Bard. The drama, and the incredibly powerful words Lady Macbeth is given to say were unlike any I had heard from a woman in literature at that time. It felt like a page turner. Even though it wasn’t. Cause, y’know, iambic pentameter.” -UA
“The first book that made me curious about a fictional character’s inner life. The whole thing was so psychological, he was so lost. And I think I realized that teenagers have always been this way—since the beginning of time.” -UA
“Whoa! From the very beginning, it is the original soap opera, and I loved every second of the drama! To watch a writer like Dickens yet again (I had already read Great Expectations,) weave so many characters’ storylines together with one another… This book required you to pay attention to every character and every word and served to remind this: no person or thing is insignificant.” -UA
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
“I read it before I saw the movie. I thought it was funny and tragic, exactly where a new girl to a big city—like me—could see pieces of herself, when she’s trying to figure out her place in this concrete jungle. It was just good…that’s all.” -UA
“This is a book that found me. I read it the summer after college, right before moving to NYC and starting out on my own personal legend. The Alchemist has found me every time I’m about to embark on a new path, or during a major transition. I’ve read it each time, and every time there are even more treasures to discover.” -UA
“James Baldwin remains one of the most prolific and prophetic writers to have lived. Every page had been stamped by a genius. This autobiographical collection of essays moved my heart, expanded my mind to the larger, richer perspective of the black experience in Civil Rights America, and firmed up my opinion that, “There is more to being black than meets the eye.'” -UA
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley (also rec’d by Angie Thomas, Colin Kaepernick, Gabrielle Union, Howard Zinn, Ibram X. Kendi, Janelle Monáe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rose McGowan, Tupac Shakur & Questlove)