Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in American Dramas & Plays. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.

1. A Raisin in the Sun

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

This groundbreaking play starred Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeill, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands in the Broadway production which opened in 1959. Set on Chicago's South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband's insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. Sacrifice, trust and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration. Winner of the NY Drama Critic's Award as Best Play of the Year, it has been hailed as a "pivotal play in the history of the American Black theatre." by Newsweek and "a milestone in the American Theatre." by Ebony.

  • Author: Lorraine Hansberry
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint, Reissue edition (November 29, 2004)
  • Genre: Politics & Social Sciences, Social Sciences
  • ISBN: 978-0679755333
  • Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 6.9 inches


2. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

Based on historical people and real events, Arthur Miller's play uses the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence unleashed by the rumors of witchcraft as a powerful parable about McCarthyism.

  • Author: Arthur Miller
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (March 25, 2003)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Dramas & Plays
  • ISBN: 978-0142437339
  • Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.45 x 7.7 inches


3. Fences

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

From legendary playwright August Wilson comes the powerful, stunning dramatic bestseller that won him critical acclaim, including the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. Troy Maxson is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less. This is a modern classic, a book that deals with the impossibly difficult themes of race in America, set during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.  Now an Academy Award-winning film directed by and starring  Denzel Washington , along with Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Viola Davis.

  • Author: August Wilson
  • Publisher: Plume; Reissue edition (June 1, 1986)
  • Genre: Politics & Social Sciences, Social Sciences
  • ISBN: 978-0452264014
  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.35 x 8 inches


4. Twelve Angry Men (Penguin Classics)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

A landmark American drama that inspired a classic film and a Broadway revival—featuring an introduction by David Mamet A blistering character study and an examination of the American melting pot and the judicial system that keeps it in check,  Twelve Angry Men  holds at its core a deeply patriotic faith in the U.S. legal system. The play centers on Juror Eight, who is at first the sole holdout in an 11-1 guilty vote. Eight sets his sights not on proving the other jurors wrong but rather on getting them to look at the situation in a clear-eyed way not affected by their personal prejudices or biases. Reginald Rose deliberately and carefully peels away the layers of artifice from the men and allows a fuller picture to form of them—and of America, at its best and worst.   After the critically acclaimed teleplay aired in 1954, this landmark American drama went on to become a cinematic masterpiece in 1957 starring Henry Fonda, for which Rose wrote the adaptation. More recently, Twelve Angry Men had a successful, and award-winning, run on Broadway. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

  • Author: Reginald Rose
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1st edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, History & Criticism


5. Death of a Salesman (Penguin Plays)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

The Pulitzer Prize-winning tragedy of a salesman’s deferred American dream   Ever since it was first performed in 1949, Death of a Salesman has been recognized as a milestone of the American theater. In the person of Willy Loman, the aging, failing salesman who makes his living riding on a smile and a shoeshine, Arthur Miller redefined the tragic hero as a man whose dreams are at once insupportably vast and dangerously insubstantial. He has given us a figure whose name has become a symbol for a kind of majestic grandiosity—and a play that compresses epic extremes of humor and anguish, promise and loss, between the four walls of an American living room. "By common consent, this is one of the finest dramas in the whole range of the American theater." —Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times "So simple, central, and terrible that the run of playwrights would neither care nor dare to attempt it." — Time

  • Author: Arthur Miller
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 1, 1976)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Dramas & Plays
  • ISBN: 978-0140481341
  • Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.3 inches


6. Hamilton: The Revolution

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

A backstage pass to the groundbreaking, hit musical Hamilton , winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, including the award-winning libretto, behind-the-scenes photos and interviews, and exclusive footnotes from composer-lyricist-star Lin-Manuel Miranda, now streaming on Disney+ with the original cast. Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country's origins for a diverse new generation. Hamilton: The Revolution gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages -- "since before this was even a show," according to Miranda -- traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here. Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sondheim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by President Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don't throw away their shot.

  • Author: Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Illustrated edition (April 12, 2016)
  • Genre: Arts & Photography, Performing Arts
  • ISBN: 978-1455539741
  • Dimensions: 8.88 x 1.5 x 10.63 inches


7. A Streetcar Named Desire (New Directions Paperbook)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

The Pulitzer Prize and Drama Critics Circle Award winning play―reissued with an introduction by Arthur Miller ( Death of a Salesman and The Crucible ), and Williams' essay "The World I Live In." It is a very short list of 20th-century American plays that continue to have the same power and impact as when they first appeared―57 years after its Broadway premiere, Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire is one of those plays. The story famously recounts how the faded and promiscuous Blanche DuBois is pushed over the edge by her sexy and brutal brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Streetcar launched the careers of Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, and solidified the position of Tennessee Williams as one of the most important young playwrights of his generation, as well as that of Elia Kazan as the greatest American stage director of the '40s and '50s. Who better than America's elder statesman of the theater, Williams' contemporary Arthur Miller, to write as a witness to the lightning that struck American culture in the form of A Streetcar Named Desire ? Miller's rich perspective on Williams' singular style of poetic dialogue, sensitive characters, and dramatic violence makes this a unique and valuable new edition of A Streetcar Named Desire . This definitive new edition will also include Williams' essay "The World I Live In," and a brief chronology of the author's life.

  • Author: Tennessee Williams
  • Publisher: New Directions; unknown edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, History & Criticism
  • ISBN: 978-0811216029
  • Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches


8. The Glass Menagerie

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

No play in the modern theatre has so captured the imagination and heart of the American public as Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie . Menagerie was Williams's first popular success and launched the brilliant, if somewhat controversial, career of our pre-eminent lyric playwright. Since its premiere in Chicago in 1944, with the legendary Laurette Taylor in the role of Amanda, the play has been the bravura piece for great actresses from Jessica Tandy to Joanne Woodward, and is studied and performed in classrooms and theatres around the world. The Glass Menagerie (in the reading text the author preferred) is now available only in its New Directions Paperbook edition. A new introduction by prominent Williams scholar Robert Bray, editor of The Tennessee Williams Annual Review , reappraises the play more than half a century after it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award: "More than fifty years after telling his story of a family whose lives form a triangle of quiet desperation, Williams's mellifluous voice still resonates deeply and universally." This edition of The Glass Menagerie also includes Williams's essay on the impact of sudden fame on a struggling writer, "The Catastrophe of Success," as well as a short section of Williams's own "Production Notes." The cover features the classic line drawing by Alvin Lustig, originally done for the 1949 New Directions edition.

  • Author: Tennessee Williams
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (June 17, 1999)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Dramas & Plays
  • ISBN: 978-0811214049
  • Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 8.1 inches


9. The Miracle Worker: A Play

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

Based on the remarkable true story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, this inspiring and unforgettable play has moved countless readers and become an American classic. Young Helen Keller, blind, deaf, and mute since infancy, is in danger of being sent to an institution because her inability to communicate has left her frustrated and violent. In desperation, her parents seek help from the Perkins Institute, which sends them a "half-blind Yankee schoolgirl" named Annie Sullivan to tutor their daughter. Despite the Kellers' resistance and the belief that Helen "is like a little safe, locked, that no one can open," Annie suspects that within Helen lies the potential for more, if only she can reach her. Through persistence, love, and sheer stubbornness, Annie breaks through Helen's walls of silence and darkness and teaches her to communicate, bringing her into the world at last.

  • Author: William Gibson
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (June 17, 2008)
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Literature
  • ISBN: 978-1416590842
  • Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.3 x 8 inches


10. Our Town: A Play in Three Acts (Perennial Classics)

Top 10 Best Books to Read in American Dramas & Plays - August 2021

Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play. It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Margulies, who writes, "You are holding in your hands a great American play. Possibly the great American play." In addition, Tappan Wilder has written an eye-opening new Afterword, which includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material.

  • Author: Thornton Wilder
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1st edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Genre: Literature & Fiction, Dramas & Plays
  • ISBN: 978-0060512637
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches