Let’s Talk About Books!
Books are one of the greatest inventions ever. Hands down I cannot think of one other thing that I appreciate more. I am so serious. Whoever came up with the idea of telling a story and putting it in writing is a genius.
Through books I have travelled the world, made new friends, experienced some things that I otherwise would never have done or known about, been given renewed hope, had my eyes opened wider than I probably would have liked, accepted somethings that I otherwise would have been opposed to, and most of all been given permission to dream.
I think that last one is the most important of them all. In the world that we live in today we have to be a do-dreamer. Yep, I made that up. How do you like that? A do-dreamer is a person that not only dreams about what they want to do, but actually goes out and does it. Dreaming is not enough. It is a great start, but you have to do something in order to see that dream through.
When I read, “Evolution Of A Revolutionary” by Afeni Shakur and Jasmine Guy, my life was forever changed. I realized that I was more than a black woman, more than a piece of paper and certainly more than a worker in a cubical. I was entitled to a vision and if I had to have a revolution to get me there, then hell, so be it.
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and so, it goes without saying that I would be drawn to the story of Madame C.J. Walker. I fell in love with this woman in “The Black Rose” by Tananarive Due. While this book is fictional, it did tell a great deal of truth and it gave me the courage to push through. I know that you will enjoy it too.
Eric Jerome Dickey has been a part of my life for the last twenty or so years. Back then money was scarce because I was raising a family and going to school. I remember going into the library and seeing his book on the shelf. I was supposed to be looking for a book for a paper that I had to write, but the African-American fiction section kept calling my name. I am glad that it did. The first novel of his I read was “Friends and Lovers” and then I doubled back for “Sister Sister”. I was thirsty for this type of writing and I kept him on my watch list. My favorite work by Mr. Dickey is “The Other Woman”. In this novel we are introduced to two couples by way of an affair. As Freckles tries to figure out the mess that has become her life I found myself drawn to her, she is my sister, my friend, my conscious, my confidant. I wanted to know her name. I wanted to hear her play her sax and most of all I wanted to give her a hug and tell her that it was all going to be ok. I found myself on an emotional roller coaster with Jackie in “One Night”. How did she get to this place in her life? Why is she committed to this man that she just met? Why won’t she leave and run far away? Hasn’t she had enough tragedy to last a lifetime? Mr. Dickey has a new book out that I have begun reading called, “The Blackbirds”. Mr. Dickey’s characters have angered me, inspired me, uplifted me, and encouraged me. I have read all of his books and I have taken away something great with each one.
Can you say AMAZING? If you can then you have just described the life and the work of Ms. Cupcake Brown. I can’t remember how I came upon this book. It doesn’t matter. The point is that it is a great memoir. I don’t read a lot of memoirs or autobiographies, but this one reads like fiction. A Piece Of Cake is a book about a little girl whose life is turned upside down by the death of her mother and the stupidity and lack of concern by the Department of Family Services. Through rape, drugs, abortions, prostitution and abuse both physical and mental Cupcake Brown stands triumphant. If you are ever in a place where you think that you can’t do something then you really need to check yourself. This book inspired me to never, ever give up no matter how hard it gets. Don’t quit! I read it at a volatile time in my life and it changed the way that I thought and the way that I viewed the world.
Like Eric Jerome Dickey, Terry McMillan has been in my life for as long as I can remember. A friend of mine gave me my first Terry McMillan book called, “Mama”. I was hooked from there. While it is hard to choose a favorite the two that I will go back to from time to time are “The Interruption of Everything “ and “Who Asked You”. With both novels the reader is put right into the middle of family drama and right away you are choosing sides. It is easy to judge people when you are on the outside trying to look in, but it is better to keep the judgement out of the picture when you really have no idea what people are struggling with from day to day. These books taught me not to be ashamed of my struggles and to ask for help when I need it because we all need help sometimes.
I could go on and on about the great books that I have read over the years, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of the ones by African-American writers that when I turned the last page I knew that my life would be different.
Ten Other Great Reads
The Year Of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Where The Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
Fish And Grits by Tina Smith-Brown
Child Of God by Lolita Files
The Man In 3B by Carl Weber
11-22-63 by Stephen King (Also a great series on Hulu)
Seen It All And Done The Rest by Pearl Cleage
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Ok, I cheated, but hey, these are some great reads. Some of my favorite authors are included in this post, but there are others.
Five Other Favorite Authors
Bernice L. McFadden
Cynthia Bond and Ayana Mathis (this is not a cheat-lol)
I love books and I hope that you find a few from this post that become your favorites as well.