James Baldwin

Please visit the Illinois State Library's Talking Book and Braille Service website at:


Celebrate Black History Month and the legacy of James Baldwin by reading his revolutionary plays, poetry, essays, and novels!

Another Country

James Baldwin


A talented black musician, his beautiful sister, and his white friend strike out against the conventions of sex, race, and society. 1962.

American Literature, Download Only

Blues for Mister Charlie

James Baldwin


Based on the case of a black youth whose white murderer was acquitted by the courts in Mississippi. A powerful play that laments the white man's moral crisis as much as the frustration and anger of blacks. 1964.

American Drama, Race, Sociology

Giovanni’s Room

James Baldwin


Homosexuality and the physical aspects of male love are explored in a Paris setting where the narrator, a young American, is involved both with a woman and man, and is eventually compelled to make a choice. 1956.

American Literature, Sexuality

Go Tell It on the Mountain

James Baldwin


While living in Harlem, John experiences a religious conversion on his fourteenth birthday. Flashbacks portray the lives, suffering, and sins of John's African-American forefathers, especially their struggles with racism and poverty as they moved from the rural South to this northern ghetto. 1953.

Autobiographical novel, Download Only

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin


In two essays, combining autobiography with political philosophy, Baldwin expresses how he feels as a Black American in White America. Includes a section on the Black Muslim movement and a meeting with its leader, Elijah Muhammad. 1963.

Race, Sociology, Autobiography, Download Only

If Beale Street Could Talk

James Baldwin


Bittersweet love story between nineteen-year-old African American Tish Rivers and her lover, Fonny, who met on the streets as children. Tish is pregnant with their child and remains hopeful, while Fonny, an artisan wrongly accused of rape, awaits trial in jail. 1974.

Romance, Fiction

Jimmy’s Blues: Selected Poems

James Baldwin


This collection of poetry by the well-known novelist and essayist offers a poignant commentary on black American life. 1985.

Poetry, Race

Just Above My Head

James Baldwin


Sprawling drama traces the passage of three individuals through the events of the fifties, sixties, and seventies from the Apollo in Harlem to the Olympia in Paris. Love and courage bind a former child evangelist, a famous gospel singer, and the latter's manager-brother. The theme of homosexuality is introduced. 1979.

Bestseller, Gay Interest, Download Only

No Name in the Street

James Baldwin


A personal statement in which Baldwin tells of his years of self-exile and renewal abroad, of his activities in the civil rights movement, and his road back to complete involvement in the cause of black people in America. 1972.

Race, Sociology, Autobiography, Download Only

Notes of a Native Son

James Baldwin


Collection of autobiographical essays depicting the author's early life in Harlem and his later experiences as an African American living abroad. The selections reflect his personal focus on the black experience, calling it "the gate I had to unlock before I could hope to write about anything else." 1955.

Autobiography, Sociology, Race