The one thing Kameelah Martin is sure of is this: There is power in the written word, whether it be a fantastical tale from long ago or a true exploration of our modern times. Martin, who became dean of the Graduate School of the University of Charleston last June, specializes in teaching and researching literary and vernacular traditions, with an emphasis on 20th- and 21st-century prose, as well as African American genealogy. She has served as assistant editor and book review editor of the College Language Association Journal. Martin, who previously headed up the College’s African American Studies Program, also co-edited The Lemonade Reader, which explores the nuances of Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album, Lemonade. Her Top 10 list (actually 11 titles) reflects the rich culture and history of the African diaspora she is so passionate about. And, fun fact: Her daughter is named after a character in her No. 3 pick!

1. Song of Solomon     Toni Morrison 

2. Another Good Loving Blues      Arthur Flowers 

3. Sassafras, Cypress & Indigo      Ntozake Shange 

4. When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks it Down      Joan Morgan 

5. (Tie) The Book of Night Women and Black Leopard, Red Wolf      both by Marlon James 

6. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route      Saidiya Hartman 

7. The Coming      Daniel Black 

8. Masters of the Dew      Jacques Roumain 

9. The Autobiography of Malcolm X      Malcolm X and Alex Haley 

10. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret        Judy Blume