Toni Morrison’s Beloved is another must-read. Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize, the book tells a powerful tale of murder, mother love and redemption amid the history and legacy of slavery. Told in a lush, poetic voice, the novel’s style is as mesmerizing as its plot. Set in 1873-4, but flashing back up to two decades earlier, the novel shows what life was like for African Americans during the heyday of the Fugitive Slave Act (the law that allowed slave owners to pursue runaway slaves into non-slave states and that penalized Northerners who helped or hid fugitive slaves) and during the years following the Civil War when ex-slaves tried to make a place in the newly-defined union. The book, one of my all-time favorites, has been called both disturbing and exhilarating. It is one of those books you hate to see end.