Dive into the literary world of Martin Luther King, Jr., Social Activist & Minister.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a seminal figure in American history, is best known for his pivotal role in advancing civil rights through nonviolent protest. Born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, King was deeply influenced by his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. His leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, his inspiring "I Have a Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington, and his receiving of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 underscore his profound impact on the nation's progress toward racial equality. King's eloquence and unwavering commitment to justice helped transform the civil rights movement and laid the groundwork for significant legislative changes, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.❞ — Martin Luther King, Jr.

King was also a committed scholar and an avid reader, traits that greatly influenced his philosophical and tactical approach to activism. Educated at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and eventually receiving a doctorate from Boston University, King was well-versed in theological studies, ethics, and the works of philosophers such as Hegel and Nietzsche. His speeches and writings reflect a deep engagement with theological and philosophical texts, which shaped his concepts of nonviolence, justice, and equality. King's extensive reading enabled him to draw on a rich array of sources to inspire and rationalize the civil rights movement, making his advocacy both profound and universally resonant.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Favorite Books

Last Updated: June 2024

Poems & Other Writings

This volume contains a rich selection of Longfellow's work, including his best-known poems such as "Paul Revere's Ride" and "The Song of Hiawatha," showcasing his ability to blend American history with romantic literature.

Civil Disobedience

Henry David Thoreau's influential essay advocating for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state, emphasizing the importance of personal conscience over the dictates of laws.

The Republic

Plato's philosophical dialogue concerning justice, the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man, offering insights through dialectic conversations led by Socrates on various philosophical issues.

The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne

This collection showcases the breadth of John Donne's work, featuring his intricate and passionate poetry that explores themes of love, death, and religion, alongside his significant prose works, highlighting his skill as a metaphysical poet and preacher.

Nicomachean Ethics

Aristotle's foundational philosophical text discusses the concept of virtue and the path to happiness, exploring moral philosophy and the best way to live a good and fulfilling life.

Poetical Works of William Cullen Bryant

This collection showcases the poetry of William Cullen Bryant, an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post, known for his meditations on nature and human mortality.

Complete Poetical Works

This collection offers all the published poetry of James Russell Lowell, an American Romantic poet, critic, satirist, and diplomat, known for his lyrical prowess and political engagement.

Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving's classic tales blend American folklore with postcolonial identity; "Rip Van Winkle" tells of a man who sleeps through the American Revolution, and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" recounts the story of the headless horseman and the superstitious Ichabod Crane.

The Prince

Niccolò Machiavelli's seminal work on political theory and the qualities of great leaders, advocating pragmatic and often controversial methods for ruling effectively and maintaining power in a turbulent political landscape.
Also recommended by:
Tupac Shakur  Neil deGrasse Tyson 

The Social Contract

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's treatise on the best way to establish a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society, which posits that true sovereignty lies with the people, who enter into a collective agreement to form a state that upholds the general will.

The Bible

The Bible is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred in Christianity, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, which narrate the history of the Earth from its creation to the spread of Christianity in the first century A.D.

Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth; The Remedy

An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth; The Remedy - Henry George's influential 19th-century work examines the paradox of increasing inequality in capitalist societies, advocating for the "single tax" on land as a solution to mitigate the disparity.

The Souls of Black Folk

W.E.B. Du Bois's seminal work is a collection of essays that examine race, culture, and the struggles of Black Americans at the turn of the 20th century, proposing that the problem of the 20th century is "the problem of the color line."
Also recommended by:
Tupac Shakur 
Do you have a suggestion for someone who should be featured on our site? Reach out to us today, and we'll make every effort to include them soon!