A Complete List of Maya Angelou Books Rated From Best To Worst

It was not as an appeasement to black voters in the United States that President Bill Clinton requested for Maya Angelou, an author of numerous books and literature, to write and recite the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at his first inauguration in 1993. The St. Louis, Missouri native, who was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with notable activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, was a renowned poet, and writer who is remembered in history as being the reason why the literary world was able to take black female writers seriously.

Maya’s journey to the forefront of the literary world did not go as one would expect from somebody that was able to enjoy an over 5-decade long career. But despite the challenges she faced, she was able to push through and share her story by discussing her personal struggles as well as that of the black community, thus making her a spokesperson for black people and women in general. Here is a list of Maya Angelou books rated from best to worst.

Maya Angelou Books Rated From Best To Worst

1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

  • Goodreads: 4.2/5
  • Common Sense Media: 5/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.6/5
  • Audible: 4.6/5
  • Abebooks: 5/5

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was Maya Angelou’s first attempt at writing a book and it was also what brought her international acclaim. In it, she talks about her life up to the age of 17 and covers topics concerning Black American women during the Civil Rights Movement. Maya begins from the time she was sent to live with her grandmother at the age of 3 to when she became a mother at the young age of 16. She further spoke on how her love of literature helped her overcome racism and trauma.

In 1970, Caged Bird received a National Book Award nomination. For two years, it remained on The New York Times paperback bestseller list as numerous educational institutions began to use it in their curriculum, however, a few have banned it due to its graphic depiction of childhood rape, racism, and sexuality.

2. And Still I Rise (1978)

  • Goodreads: 4.4/5
  • Common Sense Media: 5/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.9/5
  • Audible: 4.9/5
  • Abebooks: 4.4/5

Said to be written during one of the most productive periods of her career, And Still I Rise is another one of Maya’s highly-rated and celebrated pieces of work. It is a collection of poems and is made up of 32 short poems divided into three parts.

Sticking to the theme that is prevalent in all of her books, Maya Angelou, in her third volume of poetry, focuses on issues concerning her race and gender while emphasizing the strength and resilience of her people with a hopeful determination to rise above difficulty and discouragement.

3. Gather Together In My Name (1974)

  • Goodreads: 4.3/5
  • Abebooks: 4.3/5

Maya Angelou Books
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Gather Together in My Name is the second released piece of work from the list of Maya Angelou books. Written three years after her earlier effort, she continues from where she left off in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings but the events discussed in the book still center around the themes of motherhood, family, racism, identity, education, and literacy. She talks about having a relationship with her mother as well as her struggles in providing for her young son by working a variety of jobs before she is able to find herself.

Upon release, Gather Together received mainly positive reviews and was recognized as being a better-written book than its predecessor. However, it was unable to achieve critical acclaim due to its structure that was only brought together by theme and content.

4. Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971)

  • Goodreads: 4.2/5
  • Abebooks: 4.2/5

Maya Angelou Books
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Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie is the first collection of poems written by the author and poet. In the poems, she acts like a spokesperson for her race as she uses African-American vernacular to make statements about civil rights issues in America.

The book is made up of two sections of 38 poems, the first containing 20 poems while the second has 18. The first section speaks on the universal themes of love and loss and was structured like blues and jazz music. It is said that the poems were originally song lyrics from her time as a night performer. The second section, on the other hand, focuses on the experience of the survival of African Americans despite living in a society dominated by whites.

5. Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey (1993)

  • Goodreads: 4.3/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.8/5
  • Audible: 4.8/5
  • Abebooks: 4.3/5

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Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now is the first book of essays to appear on this list of Maya Angelou books. It consists of a series of short essays that are autobiographical and inspirational, along with two poems that discuss topics like fashion, entertainment, sensuality, pregnancy, racism, and death.

Published shortly after she recited her poem at Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, during the period between the release of her fifth and sixth books; All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) and A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), My Journey Now was well received by critics who gave it generally positive reviews.

6. Mom & Me & Mom (2013)

  • Goodreads: 5/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.8/5
  • Audible: 4.8/5
  • Abebooks: 4.2/5

Maya Angelou Books
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In Mom & Me & Mom, Maya provides an overview of her life and revisits many of the same stories she talks about in her previous books. Divided into two sections, the first centers on her early years when she initially resented and distrusted her mother to the time she accepted, supported, and began to love her. The second part then chronicles the unconditional love, support, and assistance the pair gave each other, most especially as Maya battled motherhood, a failed marriage, and the ups and downs of her career.

7. Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1993)

  • Goodreads: 4.2/5
  • Audible: 4.8/5
  • Abebooks: 4.2/5

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In twenty short personal essays in the book, Maya Angelou discusses a wide range of topics that include Africa, independence, violence, the misconception of aging, sex and sensuality, as well as self-reflection.

Even the Stars Look Lonesome was an immediate bestseller, a nod to the fact that she talks about a few notable people in some essays. In one, she discusses her friend Oprah Winfrey before going ahead to defend her support of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in another.

8. Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes (2004)

  • Goodreads: 4.2/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4/5
  • Audible: 4.8/5
  • Abebooks: 4.2/5

Maya Angelou Books
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Hallelujah! The Welcome Table is the first piece of work from the culinary genre to appear on this list of Maya Angelou books. The compilation is however described as both a book of essays and a cookbook since 28 essays written by the author are paired with 73 recipes many of which she learned from her grandmother and mother. According to many that knew her well enough, Maya’s skills in the kitchen were legendary as she was known for her good dishes and expansive hospitality.

9. Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983)

  • Goodreads: 3.9/5
  • Abebooks: 3.9/5

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Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? is the fourth volume of poetry by Maya Angelou. Dedicated to her son, Guy Johnson, and to her grandson, Colin Ashanti Murphy Johnson, the book contains 28 poems that focus on maintaining survival despite the presence of things that threaten freedom, the pain of lost love, and the defeat of one’s dreams.

10. I Shall Not Be Moved (1990)

  • Goodreads: 4.5/5
  • Abebooks: 4.2/5

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Even though I Shall Not Be Moved ranks as the worst of the books by Maya Angelou, the collection of poetry received a few positive reviews that appreciate her combination of rhythm and sense. According to Maya herself, the title of the book comes from her desire to encourage young people to have a moral stance and never give up. The themes of the poems in the book then go ahead to focus on hard work, the struggle of African Americans, and the universal experiences of humans, as well as love and relationships.

A Comprehensive List Of Books By Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou Books
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  1. I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing (1969)
  2. Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971)
  3. Gather Together in My Name (1974)
  4. Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975)
  5. Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976)
  6. And I Still Rise (1978)
  7. The Heart of a Woman (1981)
  8. Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983)
  9. All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes (1986)
  10. Poems by Maya Angelou (1986)
  11. Mrs. Flowers (1986)
  12. Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987)
  13. Graduation (1989)
  14. Conversations with Maya Angelou (1989)
  15. I Shall Not Be Moved (1990)
  16. Lessons in Living (1993)
  17. On The Pulse of Morning (1993)
  18. Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993)
  19. Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (1993)
  20. I Know Why (1993)
  21. Gloria Steinem: On Turning Sixty (1994)
  22. Margaret Atwood (1994)
  23. The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)
  24. My painted house, my friendly chicken and me (1994)
  25. Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1995)
  26. A Brave and Startling Truth (1995)
  27. Mother (1996)
  28. Kofi and His Magic (1996)
  29. Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997)
  30. Making Magic in the World (1998)
  31. Black Pearls: The Poetry of Maya Angelou (1998)
  32. A Song Flung Up To Heaven (2002)
  33. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (2002)
  34. Hallelujah! The Welcome Table (2004)
  35. Maya’s World: Angelina of Italy (2004)
  36. Angelina of Italy (2004)
  37. Mikale of Hawaii (2004)
  38. Ren’ee Marie of France (2004)
  39. Izak of Lapland (2004)
  40. Amazing Peace: And Other Poems by Maya Angelou (2005)
  41. Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem (2005)
  42. Mother: A cradle to Hold Me (2006)
  43. Celebrations, Rituals of Peace and Prayer (2006)
  44. Letter to My Daughter (2008)
  45. Great Food, All Day Long (2010)
  46. Love’s Exquisite Freedom (2011)
  47. Mom & Me & Me (2013)
  48. Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou (2014)
  49. His Day Is Done: A Nelson Mandela Tribute (2014)
  50. Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wit and Wisdom of Maya Angelou
Onuoha Banks
Taking up the biggest challenges is Uloaku's strong suit and you don't want to challenge her on the entertainment arena. I'm goal-driven and when I'm not working, I might go for a hiking trip in the great outdoors.


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