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Essential books by Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou, poet, activist, Renaissance woman, passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Her life and work inspired many. In honor of her memory, here are five essential Maya Angelou books.

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“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was the first of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies. It was published in 1969. In it, Dr. Angelou writes about her early years and the many lessons she learned about love, the power of words, and how discovering writers like Shakespeare helped her find her own voice.

“The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou” (2004) offers the reader a single volume of Dr. Angelou’s words of wisdom on her life and experience. It includes “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” and five subsequent autobiographies. An excellent collection for fans of Dr. Angelou’s work.

“The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou” published in 1994 is full of her powerful and inspirational verse. The beautifully written “Late October” is a gem. The collection also includes the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” which Dr. Angelou read at President Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

“Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women” is another wonderful example of Dr. Angelou’s unmistakable style and talent as a poet. The book includes the title poem “Phenomenal Woman,” “Still I Rise,” “Weekend Glory” and “Our Grandmothers.” The author’s wit and “sassiness” make this volume a must read.

“Letter to My Daughter” offers advice to the daughter Dr. Angelou never had. As she writes in the opening of the book, “I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters.” The life lessons included in this book are profound ones for all.

To learn more about Maya Angelou, click on her website. Her poems may also be found online at

The books mentioned above are all available online, in bookstores and at your local library.


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