14 Best Langston Hughes Books

Langston Hughes Books: James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. One of the earliest innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry, Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. We hope that you enjoy our list of the best Langston Hughes Books.

Langston Hughes Books

The Ways of White Folks: Stories (Vintage Classics) Sep 7, 2011 by Langston Hughes

One of the most important writers to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes is best known as a poet, but these stories showcase his talent as a lively storyteller. His work blends elements of blues and jazz, speech and song, into a triumphant and wholly original idiom.

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics) Oct 26, 2011 by Langston Hughesre


The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who “rushed the boots of Washington”; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and the lovesick; of losers in “the raffle of night.” They conveyed that experience in a voice that blended the spoken with the sung, that turned poetic lines into the phrases of jazz and blues, and that ripped through the curtain separating high from popular culture. They spanned the range from the lyric to the polemic, ringing out “wonder and pain and terror—and the marrow of the bone of life.”

Not Without Laughter (Dover Thrift Editions) Mar 5, 2012 by Langston Hughes ( 389 )

A shining star of the Harlem Renaissance movement, Langston Hughes is one of modern literature’s most revered African American authors. Although best known for his poetry, Hughes produced in Not Without Laughter a powerful and pioneering classic novel.
This stirring coming-of-age tale unfolds in 1930s rural Kansas. A poignant portrait of African American family life in the early twentieth century, it follows the story of young Sandy Rogers as he grows from a boy to a man. We meet Sandy’s mother, Annjee, who works as a housekeeper for a wealthy white family; his strong-willed grandmother, Hager; Jimboy, Sandy’s father, who travels the country looking for work; Aunt Tempy, the social climber; and Aunt Harriet, the blues singer who has turned away from her faith.
A fascinating chronicle of a family’s joys and hardships, Not Without Laughter is a vivid exploration of growing up and growing strong in a racially divided society. A rich and important work, it masterfully echoes the black American experience.

The Short Stories of Langston Hughes Aug 15, 1997 by Langston Hughes

The Short Stories of Langston Hughes

This collection of forty-seven stories written between 1919 and 1963–the most comprehensive available–showcases Langston Hughes’s literary blossoming and the development of his personal and artistic concerns. Many of the stories assembled here have long been out of print, and others never before collected. These poignant, witty, angry, and deeply poetic stories demonstrate Hughes’s uncanny gift for elucidating the most vexing questions of American race relations and human nature in general.

The Weary Blues Feb 10, 2015 by Langston Hughes

Nearly ninety years after its first publication, this celebratory edition of The Weary Blues reminds us of the stunning achievement of Langston Hughes, who was just twenty-four at its first appearance. Beginning with the opening “Proem” (prologue poem)—“I am a Negro: / Black as the night is black, / Black like the depths of my Africa”—Hughes spoke directly, intimately, and powerfully of the experiences of African Americans at a time when their voices were newly being heard in our literature. As the legendary Carl Van Vechten wrote in a brief introduction to the original 1926 edition, “His cabaret songs throb with the true jazz rhythm; his sea-pieces ache with a calm, melancholy lyricism; he cries bitterly from the heart of his race . . . Always, however, his stanzas are subjective, personal,” and, he concludes, they are the expression of “an essentially sensitive and subtly illusive nature.” That illusive nature darts among these early lines and begins to reveal itself, with precocious confidence and clarity.

I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey (American Century) Oct 13, 2015 by Langston Hughes

In I Wonder as I Wander, Langston Hughes vividly recalls the most dramatic and intimate moments of his life in the turbulent 1930s.

His wanderlust leads him to Cuba, Haiti, Russia, Soviet Central Asia, Japan, Spain (during its Civil War), through dictatorships, wars, revolutions. He meets and brings to life the famous and the humble, from Arthur Koestler to Emma, the Black Mammy of Moscow. It is the continuously amusing, wise revelation of an American writer journeying around the often strange and always exciting world he loves.

The Best of Simple: Stories (American Century) Oct 13, 2015 by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes’s stories about Jesse B. Semple–first composed for a weekly column in the Chicago Defender and then collected in Simple Speaks His MindSimple Takes a Wife, and Simple Stakes a Claim–have been read and loved by hundreds of thousands of readers. In The Best of Simple, the author picked his favorites from these earlier volumes, stories that not only have proved popular but are now part of a great and growing literary tradition.

Simple might be considered an Everyman for black Americans. Hughes himself wrote: “…these tales are about a great many people–although they are stories about no specific persons as such. But it is impossible to live in Harlem and not know at least a hundred Simples, fifty Joyces, twenty-five Zaritas, and several Cousin Minnies–or reasonable facsimiles thereof.”

The Big Sea: An Autobiography (American Century) Mar 2, 2015 by Langston Hughes , Arnold Rampersad


Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade–Harlem and Paris. In Paris he was a cook and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was a rising young poet–at the center of the “Harlem Renaissance.”

Arnold Rampersad writes in his incisive new introduction to The Big Sea, an American classic: “This is American writing at its best–simpler than Hemingway; as simple and direct as that of another Missouri-born writer…Mark Twain.”

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems Oct 26, 2011 by Langston Hughes

Illus. in black-and-white. This classic collection of poetry is available in a handsome new gift edition that includes seven additional poems written after The Dream Keeper was first published. In a larger format, featuring Brian Pinkney’s scratchboard art on every spread, Hughes’s inspirational message to young people is as relevant today as it was in 1932.

Tambourines to Glory: A Novel (Harlem Moon Classics) Feb 26, 2010 by Langston Hughes

For every bustling jazz joint that opened in Korean War–era Harlem, a new church seemed to spring up. Tambourines to Glory introduces you to an unlikely team behind a church whose rock was the curb at 126th and Lenox.

Essie Belle Johnson and Laura Reed live in adjoining tenement flats, adrift on public relief. Essie wants to somehow earn enough money to reunite with her daughter and provide her with a nice home; Laura loves young men, mink coats, and fine Scotch. On a day of inspiration, the friends decide to use a thrift-store tambourine and a layaway Bible to start a church.

The Panther and the Lash (Vintage Classics) Oct 26, 2011 by Langston Hughes

The poems in The Panther and the Lash are the last testament of a great American writer who grappled fearlessly and artfully with the most compelling issues of his time.

In this, his last collection of verse, Hughes’s voice—sometimes ironic, sometimes bitter, always powerful—is more pointed than ever before, as he explicitly addresses the racial politics of the sixties in such pieces as “Prime,” “Motto,” “Dream Deferred,” “Frederick Douglas: 1817-1895,” “Still Here,” “Birmingham Sunday.” ” History,” “Slave,” “Warning,” and “Daybreak in Alabama.”

The Return of Simple Apr 1, 2011 by Langston Hughes

Jesse B. Simple, Simple to his fans, made weekly appearances beginning in 1943 in Langston Hughes’ column in the Chicago Defender. Simple may have shared his readers feelings of loss and dispossession, but he also cheered them on with his wonderful wit and passion for life.

The Mule-Bone May 19, 2020 by Zora Neale Hurston

This story begins in Eatonville, Florida, on a Saturday afternoon with Jim and Dave fighting for Daisy’s affection. An argument breaks out between two men, and Jim picks up a hock bone from a mule and knocks Dave out. Because of that Jim gets arrested and is held for trial in Joe Clarke’s barn. When the trial begins the townspeople are divided along religious lines: Jim’s Methodist supporters sit on one side of the church, Dave’s Baptist supporters on the other. The issue to be decided at the trial is whether or not Jim has committed a crime.

Simple's Uncle Sam: With a New Introduction by Akiba Sullivan Harper Oct 13, 2015 by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes is best known as a poet, but he was also a prolific writer of theater, autobiography, and fiction. None of his creations won the hearts and minds of his readers as did Jesse B. Semple, better known as “Simple.” Simple speaks as an Everyman for African Americans in Uncle Sam’s America. With great wit, he expounds on topics as varied as women, Gospel music, and sports heroes–but always keeps one foot planted in the realm of politics and race. In recent years, readers have been able to appreciate Simple’s situational humor as well as his poignant questions about social injustice in The Best of Simple and The Return of Simple. Now they can, once again, enjoy the last of Hughes’s original Simple books.