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Summer Reading 2017: The Beautiful Struggle

Find the book you want to read this summer!

Ben would like you to check out this book because...

Coates is famous for writing persuasively about race, politics, and history in "The Case For Reparations" and in Between the World And Me, but this memoir offers what I seek most in reading: the possibility of vicariously experiencing the raw, visceral stories that shape us. Read this if you want to deepen your understanding of race, politics, and history through personal stories and empathy.

About the book

The Beautiful Struggle

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence—and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack—and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free. 

Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father’s steadfast efforts—assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present—to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction. 

With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father’s generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.

Applicable categories for the Urban Read Harder Challenge: 

Fight for Your Right (fiction or nonfiction with social justice themes)

True Stories Well Told

For fans of

  • Memoirs
  • Jesmyn Ward
  • Michelle Alexander
  • James Baldwin

About the reader

Ben Slater, English

Ben has recommended the following books in previous years:

  • Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Siddartha by Herman Hesse