Books that have inspired Amanda Gorman, the young poet who wrote the inauguration poem ‘The Hill We Climb’

By The Holt Bookshop

By The Holt Bookshop

On 20 January 2021, Amanda Gorman delivered a poetry reading at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden. Her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’, spoke a message of truth and hope to millions. Just as she has inspired people around the world, and in celebration of the publication of The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem, here she shares a list of the books that have inspired her.

The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison

£8.99 £8.36

the searing first novel from the celebrated author of Beloved, which immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family in post-Depression 1940s Ohio. Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white schoolfellows. At once intimate and expansive, unsparing in its truth-telling, The Bluest Eye shows how the past savagely defines the present. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison's virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterised her writing. 'She revealed the sins of her nation, while profoundly elevating its canon. She suffused the telling of blackness with beauty, whilst steering us away from the perils of the white gaze.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou

£8.99 £8.36

The international classic and bestseller, Maya Angelou's memoir paints a portrait of 'a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman' (BARACK OBAMA). 'I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again' Maya AngelouIn this first volume of her seven books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s.

Homie

Danez (Author) Smith

£10.99 £10.22

'A deeply personal collection... and provocative and moving meditation on friendship, sex and blackness,' Guardian'A collection to read as we reflect on the challenges 2020 has presented to us all' Financial Times, Best Books for 2020A mighty anthem about the saving grace of friendship, Danez Smith's highly anticipated collection Homie is rooted in their search for joy and intimacy in a time where both are scarce. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living. But then the phone lights up, or a shout comes up to the window, and family - blood and chosen - arrives with just the right food and some redemption. Part friendship diary, part bright elegy, part war cry, Homie is written for friends: for Danez's friends, for yours.

Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry

£17.98 £16.72

This is not just another poetry anthology. It is a gathering of poems that demonstrate what happens when writers in a marginalized community collectively turn from dedicating their writing to political, social, and economic struggles, and instead devote themselves to the art of their poems and to the ideas they embody. These poets bear witness to the interior landscapes of their own individual selves or examine the private or personal worlds of invented personae and, therefore, of human beings living in our modern and postmodern worlds. The anthology focuses on post-1960s poetry and includes such poets as Rita Dove, Ai, Nathaniel Mackey, Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, Terrence Hayes, Elizabeth Alexander, Major Jackson, Carl Phillips, Harryette Mullen, and Yusef Komunyakaa-artists who, using a wide range of styles and forms, are cultivating a poetry of personal voice and interiority that speaks against the backdrop of community and ancestry.

WADE IN THE WATER

Tracy K. Smith

£8.99 £8.36

In Wade in the Water, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith's signature voice - inquisitive, lyrical and wry - turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men and violence. The various connotations of the title, taken from a spiritual once sung on the Underground Railroad which smuggled slaves to safety in 19th-century America, resurface throughout the book, binding past and present together.

American Sonnets For My Past And Future Assassin

Terrance Hayes

£9.99 £9.29

Over 70 poems, each titled 'American Sonnet for my Past and Future Assassin' and shot through with the vernacular energy of popular culture, Terrance Hayes manoeuvres his way between touching domestic visions, stories of love, loss and creation, tributes to the fallen and blistering denunciations of the enemies of the good. American Sonnets builds a living picture of the whole self, and the whole human, even as it opens to the view the dividing lines of race, gender and political oppression which define the early 21st Century. It is compassionate, hilarious, melancholy, bewildered - and unstoppably, rhythmically compelling, as few books can hope to be.

Electric Arches

Eve Ewing

£9.99 £9.29

Blending stark realism with the surreal and fantastic, Eve L. Ewing's narrative takes us from the streets of Chicago to an unspecified future, deftly navigating the boundaries of space, time, and reality. Ewing imagines familiar figures in magical circumstances, and identifies everyday objects - hair moisturizer, a spiral notebook - as precious icons. Her visual art is spare, playful and poignant: a cereal-box decoder ring that allows the wearer to understand what Black girls are saying; a teacher's angry, subversive message scrawled on the chalkboard. Electric Arches invites fresh conversations about race, gender, the city, identity and the joy and pain of growing up.

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey

Kamala Harris

£9.99 £9.29

Read the inspiring Sunday Times bestselling memoir from the first woman, and woman of colour, to serve as Vice President of the United States. 'A life story that genuinely entrances' Los Angeles TimesThe daughter of immigrants and civil rights activists, Vice President Kamala Harris was raised in a California community that cared deeply about social justice. As she rose to prominence as a political leader, her experiences would become her guiding light as she grappled with an array of complex issues and learned to bring a voice to the voiceless. Now, in The Truths We Hold, Harris reckons with the big challenges we face together. Drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values as we confront the great work of our day. 'Personal integrity shines through every page' Observer

Becoming: The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

Michelle Obama

£12.99 £12.08

Now in paperback featuring a new introduction by Michelle Obama, a letter from the author to her younger self, and a book club guide with 20 discussion questions and a 5-question Q&A, the intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United StatesIn her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her -- from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it -- in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations -- and whose story inspires us to do the same.

The Book of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories of Courage and Resilience

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

£9.99 £9.29

She couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old. "Go ahead, ask your question," her father urged, nudging her forward. She smiled shyly and said, "You're my hero. Who's yours?" Many people - especially girls - have asked us that same question over the years. It's one of our favourite topics. HILLARY: Growing up, I knew hardly any women who worked outside the home. So I looked to my mother, my teachers, and the pages of Life magazine for inspiration. After learning that Amelia Earhart kept a scrapbook with newspaper articles about successful women in male-dominated jobs, I started a scrapbook of my own. Long after I stopped clipping articles, I continued to seek out stories of women who seemed to be redefining what was possible. CHELSEA: This book is the continuation of a conversation the two of us have been having since I was little. For me, too, my mom was a hero; so were my grandmothers. My early teachers were also women. But I grew up in a world very different from theirs. My pediatrician was a woman, and so was the first mayor of Little Rock who I remember from my childhood. Most of my close friends' moms worked outside the home as nurses, doctors, teachers, professors, and in business. And women were going into space and breaking records here on Earth. Ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls remains a big piece of the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. While there's a lot of work to do, we know that throughout history and around the globe women have overcome the toughest resistance imaginable to win victories that have made progress possible for all of us. That is the achievement of each of the women in this book. So how did they do it? The answers are as unique as the women themselves. Civil rights activist Dorothy Height, LGBTQ trailblazer Edie Windsor, and swimmer Diana Nyad kept pushing forward, no matter what. Writers like Rachel Carson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie named something no one had dared talk about before. Historian Mary Beard used wit to open doors that were once closed, and Wangari Maathai, who sparked a movement to plant trees, understood the power of role modeling. Harriet Tubman and Malala Yousafzai looked fear in the face and persevered. Nearly every single one of these women was fiercely optimistic - they had faith that their actions could make a difference. And they were right. To us, they are all gutsy women - leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. So in the moments when the long haul seems awfully long, we hope you will draw strength from these stories. We do. Because if history shows one thing, it's that the world needs gutsy women.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban

Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

£8.99 £8.36

*Winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize*'Malala is an inspiration to girls and women all over the world' J K Rowling'Inspirational and powerful' GRAZIA'For sheer inspiration read I Am Malala' SUNDAY TIMES'A tale of immense courage and conviction' INDEPENDENT'She has the heart and courage of a lioness and is a true inspiration' Lorraine Kelly, THE SUNWhen the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, 9 October 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price when she was shot in the head at point-blank range. Malala Yousafzai's extraordinary journey has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations.

The Poet X - WINNER OF THE CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL 2019

Elizabeth Acevedo

£7.99 £7.43

A stunning New York Times bestseller with a powerful and unforgettable YA voice. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi's The Children of Blood and Bone, Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and Sarah Crossan's One. Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets - her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent. A novel about finding your voice and standing up for what you believe in, no matter how hard it is to say. Brave, bold and beautifully written - dealing with issues of race, feminism and faith. "Crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice.... Justina Ireland, author of Dread Nation "An incredibly potent debut.... Jason Reynolds, author of the National Book Award Finalist Ghost "Acevedo has amplified the voices of girls en el barrio who are equal parts goddess, saint, warrior, and hero....

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