Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations” as Want to Read:
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  397 ratings  ·  76 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.
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Knopf
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Source of Self-Regard, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
IOSEPHVS BIBLIOTHECARIVS Comparing this book' s table of contents in the Amazon preview with Penguin Australia's description of Mouth Full of Blood (,…moreComparing this book' s table of contents in the Amazon preview with Penguin Australia's description of Mouth Full of Blood (, it does appear that they are the same.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  397 ratings  ·  76 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Joshunda Sanders
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,
Vivek Tejuja
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Toni Morrison’s collection of essays don’t follow a timeline, neither it is linear, nor it is set in an order to make it easy for the reader. At first glance, it might even seem just a random collection of essays, speeches and meditations put together, however, it isn’t that. The book, “The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, Meditations” is actually a book that speaks directly to the contemporary reader, and hence the order of essays. It goes headlong into speaking about issues at hand and ...more
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
Feb 18, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A writer's life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity. page ix
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.

Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Allison Thwaites
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tori Olson
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.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lekeisha The Booknerd
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
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book requires, necessitates multiple readings.
David Curry
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 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago, I made it all the way to the top of Bear Mountain in upstate NY. The minute I got up there, I felt like a sudden entrapment took hold of me. How could I be in one of the most open of places and feel so constricted. But then I recognized the feeling: pure overwhelming feelings. That is what Toni Morrison’s nonfiction does to my brain.
Toni Morrison is, quite frankly, a genius.

I'll keep this review short because this book is pretty much an entire mood. Herein you will find essays, writings, and speeches by Morrison from various points in her career over the last 20 years or so which detail her ideas on topics like politics, race, feminism, language, art, and writing. She also goes into depth with discussions of the construction of many of her famous novels--Sula, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye, to name a few.

Much of the essays
LaTrice McNeil-Smith
Beautiful and though provoking. It's like being inside of Toni's head and I loved it!
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning collection of essays. I suggest it be read over time or even just as a reference when needed.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
If you are an Academic, especially if you are interested in African-American studies, you will possibly enjoy this book. I did not enjoy it, except for one or two of the essays and some passages. I labored through it, but was determined to finish. There is no doubt this woman is very intelligent and knowledgable, but entertaining she is not. I have not read any of her novels, so perhaps that is my fault.
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.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sophie Rayton
Morrison is a very smart, thoughtful woman and writer. However, her writing is so heavily based on the black American experience that I found it hard to get a foothold given that I'm a white British woman. Important perspectives to be sure, but I'm likely not the target audience.
Lance Eaton
The first thing one will want to do upon finishing this book is to go quickly ready everything else by Morrison that one has not read yet (that's where you'll find me), but this collection of essays, speeches, and other writings does many wonderful things, but first and foremost among them are Morrison illustrates her hyperfocus thought when it comes to the act of writing and how it results in layer upon layer within her writing. Getting the opportunity to see the mind behind so much of her work ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is serious academic discourse and summer gives me time to reflect on the points the author makes in this book. These essays offer a deeper dive into Morrison's fictional works because she goes to great lengths to explain her purpose and direction; her thinking about her writing.

The essays took me several months to complete because I re-read and re-read many of the passages with my dictionary at the ready. But do read this collection of essays; this is important reading, especially now in a
Ellen S.
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have loved, cried over, and admired Toni Morrison's fiction for many years, and enjoyed hearing her occasional talks and interviews (e.g. on CBC-radio). This book collects "essays, speeches, and meditations" over a period of many years -- almost all as timely today (or more so) than when they were written. The book includes one essay on Grendel (the "monster" in "Beowulf") that I heard Ms. Morrison give at the University of Toronto in 2002, and have never forgotten. It also includes her wonder ...more
Silvia Cojocaru
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not read many essays books, and I am not sorry to have read this one. I liked most of the essays, and particularly liked the literary criticism ones. But I found all of them thought provoking and well written. It was probably a mistake on my part to listen to the entire book in just a few days, as some parts are repetitive. I should have probably spread it out over a month or more, and I would have gotten more out of the book.
"Canon building is empire building, canon defense is national defense."

These are my notes from reading this one:

"Note to anyone reading this with a notebook or highlighter: If you start, you will either copy or highlight the entire book, so just accept and drink it in."

"Ever find yourself slowing down on purpose so the book won't end? That's happening with this one. I realize all of this has been written or spoken elsewhere, but the feeling of "current" is ever-present. This is an urgent book
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find her writing challenging and always have and this book helped me to understand why, and it makes me want to revisit her work. This is primarily a book for writers and for readers. It's probably also great for English teachers, particularly those who teach her work. I am enthralled by how her mind works, and the lengths to which she goes to choose her words. I have this sense that there is no writer living or dead who thinks as she does and that her mind is an important and historic treasur ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Profound and beautifully worded. It was bit more academic than most of my leisure reads. There was some redundancy in parts of the essays, to the point where I asked myself didn’t I read this already. However, I enjoyed Ms. Morrison’s perspectives through her selected essays and speeches.
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read (by choice and mostly not; brain is not processing all words at this moment in time) a few sections but loved them all immensely.
•The Dead of September II
💜Women, Race and Memory
•Race Matters
💜Cinderella’s Stepsisters
•Grendel and His Mother
•The Source of Self-Regard
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
favorite essays: “the source of self-regard”, “the foreigner’s home”, “god’s language”, “black matter(s)”, “women, race, and memory”, “the individual artist”, “literature and public life”, “hard, true, and lasting”, james baldwin’s eulogy, “academic whispers”
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What do you say about Toni Morrison that hasn't already been said? She is the finest novelist of my lifetime. Her use of language is careful but not cautious, purposeful but not loud. She is the kind of artist I dreamed of being when I danced.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The World Doesn't Require You: Stories
  • I'm Telling the Truth, but I'm Lying: Essays
  • Trick Mirror
  • Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine
  • A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland
  • The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays
  • What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays
  • Violation: Collected Essays by Sallie Tisdale
  • Thick: And Other Essays
  • In the Dream House
  • Lot
  • Book of Mutter
  • Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief
  • Home Remedies
  • Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System
  • Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit
  • Hard to Love: Essays and Confessions
  • What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence
See similar books…
Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is 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
“It is this rattling I believe that affects the second point: our uneasiness with our own feelings of foreignness, our own rapidly fraying sense of belonging. To what do we pay greatest allegiance? Family, language group, culture, country, gender? Religion, race? And if none of these matter, are we urbane, cosmopolitan, or simply lonely? In other words, how do we decide where we belong? What convinces us that we do? Or put another way, what is the matter with foreignness?” 2 likes
“A writer's life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” 2 likes
More quotes…