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Publisher's Summary

Arguably the most celebrated and revered writer of our time now gives us a new nonfiction collection - a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades.

The Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison's inimitable hallmark. It is divided into three parts: The first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King, Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin.  

In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, "Black matter(s)", and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here, too, is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars. 

In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison's oeuvre.

©2019 Toni Morrison (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Close your eyes and make a wish. Wish that one of the most informed, smartest, most successful people in your profession walks into your living room, pulls up a chair and says, 'This is what I’ve been thinking....' That’s The Source of Self-Regard.... The bursts of rumination examine world history, skirt religion, scour philosophy, racism, anti-Semitism, femininity, war and folk tales.... There’s even a tidbit or two about her closely guarded personal life. But the real magic is witnessing her mind and imagination at work.... This book demonstrates once again that Morrison is more than the standard bearer of American literature. She is our greatest singer. And this book is perhaps her most important song.” (James McBride, New York Times

The Source of Self-Regard speaks to today's social and political moment as directly as this morning's headlines.... Morrison tackles headfirst the weighty issues that have long troubled America's conscience...profoundly insightful.” (NPR) 

“Clearly we do not deserve Morrison, and clearly we need her badly.... In this collection of nonfiction written over the past four decades, the revered (and sometimes controversial) author reinforces her status as a piercing and visionary analyst of history, society, literature, language, and, always, race...the book explodes into pure brilliance.... [It is Morrison’s] definitive statement.” (The Boston Globe)

Featured Article: Toni Morrison Quotes on Life, Love, Freedom, and Hardships


The first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Toni Morrison, who passed away on August 5, 2019, left behind a legacy of wisdom in her novels and essays. Her work explores topics like human nature, happiness, love, and enduring hardships, but also delves into the subject of freedom and what that has meant for African Americans. These quotes will get you through tough times, inspire you to look at yourself, and much more.

What listeners say about The Source of Self-Regard

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Refreshing thoughts

I used to think that no one but Toni Morrison should narrate Toni Morrison's books, but this reading changed my mind. This is a wonderful collection of essays that showcases the breadth and depth of Morrison's thoughts as an artist, an activist, an intellectual and as someone with a deep love of humanity, and a sense of hope despite...well, everything. I'd thought that I could listen to this one essay at a time, in bites, but ended up bingeing over a couple of days. Like her other writings, it's too rich to take in all at once, and I am looking forward to seeing what I missed when I listen to it again and again.

26 people found this helpful

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the narration is quite Bland and monotone it makes

this reader for this book and this content is not ideal I'm not inclined to listen to The Complex ideas in this voice and will return for refund then purchase the actual book itself

6 people found this helpful

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Awesome book - DRY Reading

I love topics and insight provided in this book, however the narrator's feminine monotone delivery makes me sleepy. I have been trying to imagine the late Maya Angelo reading this, as the audible is starving for the proper inflection and gravitas in the lines. I think I will buy the hardcover.

5 people found this helpful

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We lost a genius

I have read all of her novels, many of her essays, I never walk away unchanged. This text is no different, in fact it has impacted me even more. I know I will return to it again.

9 people found this helpful

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A gift to generations and generations and generations of writers.

I love this book. It felt like an actual gift from Ms. Morrison to cool souls that have been set on fire by this political lands scale. An encouragement to keep writing, reading rigorously, and creating.

12 people found this helpful

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A lot of lessons to learn

Hearing Ms. Morrison’s thoughts through words helped me understand her approach to literature and life. This has certainly influenced my own perspectives on such matters.