Diversity, Memoirs, Non-fiction, Well known books, Women's

Whoops… I didn’t like Maya Angelou’s most famous work. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

So this is awkward. You start a book that everyone knows so very well. The book is also written on this immensely important topic – rather, several of them. And as you trawl and trawl through it, you only come to realize that it’s murdering you with how uninteresting it is to you.

Suuuure don’t feel good. Hey, I’ve actually written a whole post about how to deal with this situation. So now I’ll be following my own advice and still sharing this review with all of you. Hope you won’t judge too harshly 😅

So basically, let’s get down to the facts. What is true:

  • this is an important book for black people’s history and culture
  • it’s a well-known book and it does deserve it and should be well-known
  • it deals with important subjects, and not only related to race

But then… What is also true:

  • I did not know it was a memoir?? (FAIL! So #judgeme. I like going into a book without spoiling it for myself ;D)
  • I… simply did not enjoy it. (Don’t hit me please!!!)

I won’t argue with the fact that this book deals with a lot of important things. It’s not that the it wasn’t good – it just wasn’t for me. And it’s not the topic matter I didn’t like – somehow, it was the writing. I know that a lot of people really love Maya Angelou’s writing, but for some reason all it did for me was making me distracted. Getting through the book felt like a chore! I was baffled, because usually when it comes to topics like these, I gobble the book up.

So here’s the dilemma: it wouldn’t be right to rate such an important book low. But then again, it would be awful to rate it high because it was simply work for me to read it.


So I’ve decided on three stars, and I will assume it’s same for me to say that Maya Angelou’s writing is just not for me. Still three, because the subject matter was definitely interesting, and I absolutely love reading about black history, and the inequality, about women’s struggles. Maya’s life impresses me, who she became, what she did – and I’d love to know what happens next! But… I just don’t see myself reading another 5 books, working through them the way I had to plow through this one.

So… is there a movie yet? 😀 (totally #guilty for asking.)

Even if I did not like it, you still might! You support this blog by buying this book from Book Depository using this link ❤

Have you read this book, or anything else by Maya Angelou? What were your impressions?

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Evelina CaJackie B.Anne ClarenceShruti | This is LitSuzanne @ The Bookish Libra Recent comment authors

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Rosie Amber

It is quite ok to say a book is not for you. No book will be great for every reader. It is good to stand up and give a fair reason for your rating. You have my support.


Well, I haven’t read the book so have nothing intelligent to contribute, but gotta tell you I could watch that girgeous dog gif for hours! (I think I might be quite shallow, really… 😉 )


I read this for an upcoming uni module and I gave it three stars too – I thought it was really important and emotive, but I also struggled with it in places. It’s always a bit uncomfortable critiquing a crowd favourite!


Sometimes it’s scary to be honest when discussing books like this. I know there are books I read, which I did not enjoy, but I felt like I would be judged if I share that I did not enjoy it.

Brian Joseph

I have heard a lot about this book over the years. I have thought about reading it. I must sheepishly confess that it sounded a little dull to me. With that, it seems to deal with important issues. Of course i need to try it myself to know what I think of it.

I think that it is important to be honest in one’s commentary.

Destiny @ Howling Libraries

It can be really hard to admit not being totally enthralled by popular books – especially ones that are admittedly important like Maya’s works are, even if they aren’t always enjoyable reads. I picked this one up a few weeks ago, and I believe I gave it 4 stars, but it was a bit of a stretch for me. I admitted in my mini-review that I actually skimmed many sections of it because I found them either hard to follow or not entirely relevant to the story. I don’t regret reading it because I felt like many passages were very… Read more »

Anna Pittman

I always cringe when I don’t like a popular book– this post must have been difficult to write because this is Maya Angelou. That being said, every book is not for every person. I’ve never read anything by her (though I know I should!), and I need to give this book a go– even if it turns out to be not my cup of tea (and memoirs rarely are my cup of tea) I feel like it’s an important book to read.

Laura Thomas

Great review. You covered what worked and what didn’t for you and made some valid points. On a lighter note – cute pup. I kept watching it cock it’s head back and forth. LOL

Lashaan Balasingam

Ahhh, I actually have this on my TBR as well! I am still looking forward to trying it out myself for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. Her writing is greatly praised and what she brought to the table was just too huge for me to ignore hahah I do hope the next book you read won’t have you going through so much confuzzle!!! 😀

Jackie B.

Gurl, there is NOTHING wrong with not enjoying a book! You are totally welcome. I find that most classic literature (specifically science fiction, in my case) I struggle with. I understand why they are important in the moment, for sure. But writing style, consumerism, and expectations have changed DRASTICALLY since these books were written. Personally, I love to listen to Maya Angelou read her own works. I haven’t read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (though I am working on a poetry book review which contains the Dunbar poem that title is based on!) yet, but it’s on my… Read more »

Shruti | This is Lit

Omg, this has happened to me before! With…wait for it…One Hundred Years of Solitude! I felt that it was too verbose. It’s the kind of book you read when you’re high. I really enjoyed some parts of the book, but overall, my thoughts didn’t exactly match the rest of the reviewers’.

Anne Clarence

Yes I know the pain of being the only one that didn’t enjoy a wildly loved book XD

But we all have our own opinions, right? Great review though!

Cait @ Paper Fury

I haven’t read anything by her yet, but I kind of want to just because she’s so famous?! (And I do love some quotes I’ve seen from her!) But I totally get how you feel when a book is like “good” but still not working for you. I get that all the time.

Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

I enjoyed the book but as others have said, not every book is for everyone and your review is fair. I actually prefer her poetry to her prose, especially if you can find audio or videos where she is reading her own poems. Incredible stuff.


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