He often wrote about the topic of "passing," the attempt of many light-skinned blacks to live as white, and his book The House Behind the Cedars (1900) shows how dangerous relationships can become amid societal expectations. His last novel (1905), The Colonel's Dream is a story of the violence and oppression that continued through Reconstruction, and it reminds us that politics and laws often have little effect on personal feelings and cultural values--people are who they are, regardless of what attempts for change are imposed on them. But I tend to like his short stories best. Take a look at "The Wife of His Youth" and others in his collection for some excellent depictions of literary realism and social commentary. His essays on race relations are also interesting, as he spent part of his career as a journalist and court reporter in Ohio, and seemed to find a middle ground between the perspectives of other influential black voices of the time, W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.
Take some time this summer to pick up an author whom you may not recognize. Charles Chesnutt is a good one to start with.