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The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  3,144 ratings  ·  460 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Joshunda Sanders
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally published for Bitch Media on February 12, 2019:

Toni Morrison began writing her seminal debut novel, The Bluest Eye, more than 40 years ago as a way to cure her own loneliness. “I never planned to be a writer,” she told Jane Bakerman in a 1978 interview in Black American Literature Forum. “I was in a place where there was nobody I could talk to and have real conversations with. And I think I was also very unhappy. So I wrote then,
Michael Finocchiaro
This is a wonderful collection of Toni Morrison's writing, primarily in speeches given at various functions. Admittedly, some of the themes are repetitive and we don't necessarily have the context in which she is speaking, but her words always have such power and beauty. What I really enjoyed was when she was writing about her own books, about how she writes, and about the influences on her writing. It was all so passionate and interesting. I certainly got new insights into her first 7 novels. S ...more
Exquisite with wisdom, grace, vulnerability and compassion, like all of Toni Morrison's work. I am in awe of this writer's mind, her work ethic, the way she brings the intensity and power of jazz into the written word. She is this nation's greatest literary treasure.

Oh. I posted this only an hour or so before learning of her death. My heart just breaks.
Raul Bimenyimana
Mar 31, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Toni Morrison was one of the greatest thinkers and writers this world has known. Her fiction, with its poignant precision into human nature–concentrating on Black life in varying time periods in the United States of America, specific to that experience yet universal in feeling, is necessary reading. I think that no one should feel that they must read anything–or much less that they must like it, and that reading and engaging with a writer's work is a very intimate affair and personal matter. At ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Toni Morrison is one of my favorite writers, one of the select few I wanted to read as soon as a new novel came out. I should’ve read her nonfiction sooner; it was such a pleasure to be among her words again. If I have one quibble about this collection, it’s that there’s one piece almost exactly the same as one that preceded it. But then anything she’s written deserves to be reread.

I was thrilled getting her take on other writers, especially Melville, with her giving credit to Michael Rogin's sc
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not really a fighting person, but I will fight anyone who pretends that Toni Morrison is not the greatest American writer of all time. Seriously, meet me outside.

I read Beloved for the first time the summer after high school and it just stunned me. I had not believed that such craft and poetry were possible. I kept thinking--did she know that she was linking up all these images and words? Did she intend to create this beauty or was it just inspiration? I've never been the same and I've neve
B. P. Rinehart
I didn't think I would be reading this book so relatively soon. I've not read as much of her novels as I wanted and I wanted my own copy of this book over a library copy--this will definitely merit a re-read where I can sit with it a little more. So this will be my "abridged" overview.

One thing that can be said about Toni Morrison is that she has no time for modesty and all the time for hubris. She's the athlete that trash-talks, but can back it up with skill: a literary Muhammad Ali (whose auto
Ebony Rose
Jul 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I refuse to embarrass myself trying to review, let alone critique, Toni THEE Morrison. No ma'am.

She is the GOAT. No question, no argument.
Allison Thwaites
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
You ever read a book that made you feel smart as hell? Hahaha! My vocabulary has expanded, my face is clear and my edges are being so respectful.

What I liked - Toni Morrison just knows how to make you feel lost in her words. If I ever took one of her classes, I would never be bored. She speaks about art and language (and many other topics of course) in such an informative and riveting way. There were some essays in this book that made me want to photocopy them and hand them out to people to read
Joy D
Collection of Toni Morrison’s essays and speeches that sheds light on Morrison’s worldviews. For me the most impactful and emotionally evocative pieces are her eulogies and meditations, those written to and about people she desires to honor. She also closely examines her own novels, and I found several nuggets that helped me understand her body of work better. This book was much more academic and philosophical than expected, with her objectives sometimes obscured beneath elaborate language. Seve ...more
This has to be one of the most inspiring books I have ever read.

“I claimed the right and the range of authorship. To interrupt journalistic history with a metaphorical one; to impose on a rhetorical history an imaginistic one; to read the world, misread it; write and unwrite it. To enact silence and free speech. In short to do what all writers aspire to do. I wanted my work to be the work of disabling the art versus politics argument; to perform the union of aesthetics and ethics.”

Just look at
reading is my hustle
as i was reading this book of essays i kept coming back to the fact that toni Morrison is a true intellectual. i had not read or heard her eulogy for james baldwin. SO GOOD. i might have done some crying.

Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This can be considered the Summa theologica of Toni Morrison's opinion about almost everything, from politic, to racism, feminism, and so on. I would only recommend, as it is a collection of essays, not to read them all together, because sometimes, of course , there are repetitions, but I think it can be a very enlightening book.

Questo volume potrebbe essere considerato la Summa theologica del pensiero di Toni Morrison, anche perché, essendo una collezione di saggi, lei parla a largo raggio prat
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I marked down almost every chapter as a reading that should be included into a syllabus or recommended to certain people. I am already planning on rereading this book within the month. Toni Morrison is a goddess and deserves all of the praise in the world for her graceful and honest words. Please put this book on the top of your reading list. You will not regret it.
A collection spanning forty years that has either been ill-edited or not edited at all. Editing Morrison might be intimidating–she won the Novel Prize, ffs–but that, particularly with established authors, is what publishers are for. The collection has been arranged so as to make it embarrassingly obvious that Morrison often recycles whole paragraphs from one public speaking engagement to the next–and you know what, everyone does that, it’s neither unexpected nor a crime–but when at least three e ...more
Lekeisha The Booknerd
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
It took me nearly a month to read this collection of essays. It's not an easy book to read, as there is no timeline to follow. And many of the observations are repetitive, but are explored in different aspects. There are lots of subjects that Toni delves deep into: writing, race, politics, feminism...... Some more jarring than others, but it goes without saying that she tackles them with style and grace. Toni Morrison is one of the GOAT writers. I think ever person on this earth can learn a lot ...more
W. D. Harris
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.


But y'all.

Toni makes my head hurt. Like. She kicked my aaaahhhh. Smh, I learned so much I may need a new reading journal.

😒 I'm reading something raunchy in secret to get over this situation.

... That is all.

(must read if you are writer though. She really deserved her Nobel Prize in Literature. I knew she was writing art but I didn't know-know. Now I know. 🤷🏾‍♀️💪🏾🚀)
David Curry
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I wish an editor or someone else had persuaded Toni Morrison to change the title of her selected essays, speeches and meditations: The Source of Self-Regard. Occasionally reading it in public places, I was embarrassed to think that anyone might assume I was reading the latest book intended for the bloated New Age and self-help section of an airport bookstore. That title isn’t helped by the boring front cover of the dust jacket, for which a designer is unaccountably credited even though the “desi ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Toni Morrison is obviously a brilliant writer, and I have loved many of her novels, but this compendium of essays and speeches isn’t great. She, not unexpectedly, reuses parts of speeches over and over again, and so it can get really repetitive and confusing (wait, did I read this before?). I love hearing her talk about her writing, and enjoyed her critiques of other literature, but I think her political essays are less effective. But overall it just felt like a disorganized jumble, not this wri ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This has been the perfect read to slowly make my way through, an essay or so every read. It also made the perfection compassion read to my year of reading Morrison’s fiction in publication order, her commentary on her own books was incredible to read about, as were her thoughts on all manner of wide-ranging topics. Needless to say my copy has book darts and tabs all over it, and will be re-read many times over years to come I suspect. Morrison’s wisdom was truly a balm to read during the pandemi ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book requires, necessitates multiple readings.
Amber (amberinbookland)
My favourite essays/speeches in this collection include:
The Foreigner's Home
The Habit of Art
The Individual Artist
Unspeakable Things Unspoken
The Source of Self-Regard
Goodbye to All That
Camelia Rose
The Source of Self-Regard is a wonderful collection of essays by Toni Morrison. The articles are organized chronologically, some written 30 years ago, some recently before her passing, yet equally sharp, relevant and powerful, the essays on race, Black American culture, American history (slavery), and female liberation especially so.

Toni Morrison also discusses the role of the artist in society, the making and remaking of the so-called American Literature Canon. I confess I haven't read Toni Mo
Andy Lillich
As a devoted fiction reader, I found these incisive, short non-fiction pieces to be pretty much over my head. So I took this one back to the library and brought home Pam Houston's new memoir, Deep Creek, which is much more in my non-fiction comfort zone.

This is not to say that I didn't find The Source of Self-Regard to be most excellent - just that it was much more work than I care to do, now that my grad school days are well behand me. Perfect book - for the right reader.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, faves
fucking banger
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I suppose I approached the politics versus art, race versus aesthetics debate initially the way an alchemist would: looking for that combination of ingredients that turns dross into gold. But there is no such formula. So my project became to make the historically raced world inextricable from the artistic view that beholds it, and in so doing encourage readings that dissect both...I wanted my work to be the work of disabling the art versus politics argument; to perform the union of aesthetics an ...more
Farah Firdaus
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
“Don’t let anybody, anybody convince you this is the way the world is and therefore must be. It must be the way it ought to be.”

I read my first Toni Morrison novel this year: The Bluest Eye and it is one of the most searing and profound books I’ve read on the ripple effect of racism in America. Such dense and rich writing, the story has stayed with me in ways I can’t describe and I vowed that I’m going to read all of her works. The Source of Self Regard is my second Toni Morrison book and wow, t
Rachel Green
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, black
What a gift. What a gift Toni Morrison was. I mean, I didn't have to read this book to know that Toni Morrison was a gift, but it just cemented it. How else do you characterize this magnificent set of essays over so many topics that show the care and intensity Morrison poured into writing what she called race-specific and race-free prose? Or a set of essays that critically examines the "Africanistic" presence in American art, African-American art both alone and in relation to other American art, ...more
Katerina Siapatori
I wish I could rate this treasure of a book merely by its content. Morrison's wisdom is laid out in elegant writing and I can't get enough of it. This is where my three stars go to.

However, I can't think of a collection as badly edited as this one and it's a pity. There are entire paragraphs "copied" and "pasted" in various chapters completely unchanged, which is not only aesthetically unpleasant but also distracting, as I caught myself trying to remember in which chapter I saw these exact sente
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I first encountered Toni Morrison's work as a child when I was sneaking to watch HBO with my cousins and Beloved was playing. I have tried many a time to complete just one of her works and I finally did it. She is just so precise, thoughtful and masterful and I loved every minute of this collection. It truly has proven to me why it is imperative that I continue to try and try again when it comes to reading her published works. ...more
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best k

Articles featuring this book

It’s good policy to keep a book of essays handy for those nights when you want to read but need something of a more digestible length....
68 likes · 5 comments
“Don’t let anybody, anybody convince you this is the way the world is and therefore must be. It must be the way it ought to be.” 17 likes
“A writer's life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” 14 likes
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