Readers Suggest: Books by Black Authors

So, I recently asked readers “What are some of your favorite books by AA (Black) authors?”

I had an out pouring of suggestions from multiple genres. I’m going to share some of those with you! Maybe you’ll find something that you like. Maybe you will find that ‘that one book from way back when’ you really liked is actually by an black author. Not that it changes your opinion of said book or that I want to make you ‘aware’ of anything…I just want to elevate, promote and excite the world about my community! Below are books that I have not yet read!

One thing that I thought was really crazy: I had more people sending me book suggestions in my ‘open’ book groups on Facebook than the ones for poc. Struck an odd bone to me.

Anyway! Here are a few that I thought were interesting…and a tiny snippet of their synopsis (from Amazon).
Fiction

The Inheritance Trilogy, by N. K. Jemisin (Epic Fantasy- name is almost like mine) Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king.

Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle (Fantasy/Horror): Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table… He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA): Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Lit Fiction) Jojo is…trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

The Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory (Romance): Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Thriller/Crime): When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. He travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment.
NonFiction

Hunger by Roxanne Gay (Memoir): In her phenomenally popular essays…Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.

The Color of Water by James McBride (Memoir): McBride retraces his mother’s footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story

The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison (Memoir/Dissertation? This one got a raving review!): America’s foremost novelist reflects on themes that preoccupy her work and dominate politics: race, fear, borders, mass movement of peoples, desire for belonging.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (Race Relations) At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.

Memoir Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Memoir): Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. I heard this one is great on audiobook because he narrates it himself!

 
Good Readdance,
Jade

African American Literacy and the “A.A. Community” Page

Heya,

As an African American writer I’ve realized just how much I need to portray ‘us’ as we want to be seen, need to be seen, in all of my books. I am dedicating a category to Black Authors because I want to lift up my community and support them in anyway that I can. Awareness is a great way to do so.

One of the first things I plan to highlight in this tab are black owned bookstores. It is important for black people to be given the gift of reading. Historically, it’s not something we are supposed to do. It’s a different day and age now. We have a chance to rise up and become better than we were. Catering to communities without reading and writing materials should be a priority. We should have every opportunity available to enhance our minds, souls and to educate ourselves. This isn’t something we can expect to be given to us. As current standards show, we must do it in our own communities.

That being said, we also have to use the resources given to us. Them being there for us to take is not enough! If we are given a bookstore but we never go in…how does that help us? If we are given a safe place to read and to enjoy the company of other scholars but we defile it, trash it and destroy its sanctuary…how does that inspire other would-be black business owners? Please share your thoughts on this. Comment what you think is the best way to help with literacy in the African American Community.

So keep watch of the “African American Community” page! If you want to support a black author or find a black owned bookstore follow the blog and hit this tab! I’ll be updating soon!

If you’ve read any books by black authors lately that you really enjoyed, feel free to write them in the comments below! Send me a link! Share the love! I’m always looking for great suggestions and plan to keep this tab up to date with new posts.
Happy Readdance,
Jade

Allegory of the Cave (Plato) and How It Compares to the African American Community

Sometimes we are poisonous to our own people. 

There once was a young boy named Eric who dreamed of one day making it big. He dreamed of mansions and cars and freshly cooked Sunday night dinners. His parents worked hard to keep their family together and he was often left to raise himself in the downtrodden streets of the inner city. Eric spent the first year of high school skipping class and getting high in the bathrooms. He was good with numbers, they flew through his head like music notes and he used them to buy an entourage. His friends were soon like brothers in arms, fighting against the man and whoever else dared to keep them down. While they loved him, his parents cracked but never wavered due to a shred of hope that their hard work would soon pay off in that he would live past eighteen.

After a night of danger and sticky red hands left one friend dead and another in jail, Eric makes the decision to get his life together. His skipping school days are behind him. Books and highlighters become his new best friends and good times shooting ball on the courts fade away. His parents, still fighting their own beasts of debt, forget the pat on the back. He struggles and fails but is determined to achieve his goals.

Years later he graduates from high school with a higher than stellar gpa and scholarships  for college. He excels through college, graduating in the top of his class. His parents are older now with withered hands and sad eyes but finally proud. His heart breaks as cancer eats at his fathers pride but he keeps his head up and makes promises. His parents nod and smile, they know where they come from and no one they grew up with had ever made it out. The rays of the sun have beaten their souls and the shackles of life have torn them apart.

Eric started as an intern, with pressed collars and loafers. He learned the walk and took pride in his ability to stride. He rose through the ranks and soon a placard with his name etched in gold lines the door and desk of a corner office. He buys his parents a new house and he pays for their bills. Their eyes light up as the final grasps of freedom can be felt with their finger tips.

Back home, despite his attempts to give back to the community that raised him, Eric’s old buddies curse his name. They spit on his shoes and call him a traitor. How dare he make a better man out of himself? They ask him who he thinks he is and refused to take his so-called charity. Estranged family members, who’d dapped in between video game wins, now show up with hands out stretched and angry faces. You owe us, we had circumstances. Blood means give. After dishing out all he can bare to give, Eric is worn down and even though they see his bleeding eyes they keep asking for more. Eventually he retreats back to his office and donates from afar. He’s got places to go and promises to keep. Now with a family of his own, he’s the man in charge and makes sure his kids know what it means to give to others but not give until there is nothing left.

While reading The Allegory of the Cave, something really struck home for me. You might think that I would glean something about religion or believing the government’s lies but my thoughts went down another path. I thought about the prisoners in the cave as us, African Americans and the shadows on the walls as the so called truths we’ve been fed from others about ourselves. Outside opinions that we take on faith because it’s been ingrained in our upbringing.

We, as black people, have been oppressed, yes. We’ve been beaten down, run over and held back. We’ve been taught about the violence of our own people, warned against the false intelligence of our own people and suspicious of our own people. Generations trickled self hatred and ignorance. We poured the inability to rise above our limitations down the throats of our youth and branded anyone who squeezed through the cracks a deceiver, a Judas, an Uncle Tom.

For generations we have been stuck in this phase of anger. It is all the evidence we need to believe that we are stunted. We have a fixed mindset of what the truth is. To some, the truth is that we can not make it. We dream to, we aspire to but do we honestly believe we can? The shadows on the walls of our ancestors who couldn’t fight back make no noise due to their stolen voices. We watch them with our heads locked forward unable to turn away from the lull. When one of us dares to break free of his chains we smile and nod but block out the noise of their excitement. He will be back, we say and we continue to stare at the shapes stretching before us.

He begins his journey, continuously pulled down and degraded by his own people. As he struggles forward, he starts to believe. I can make it! No one believed me but I did it! He returns to the cave, staring up at the shapes of his ancestors, hoping to enlighten his peers. Look, look what I’ve done! I told you this could happen. Come, join me. They deny him.

Do we expect to fail? How many times do we trash our wealthy brothers and sisters just for making better decisions in life than we did? Especially the ones who come from our same streets. The ones that we can’t use the excuse ‘they had it better than me’. How many times do we say ‘I knew he’d be back’ when one of our own returns to the nest after failing their great try?

Another thing that hit me was that this goes both ways. Will he remember how hard it was for him to see others succeed? After he’s achieved his goals and reached the top tier, does he say to himself “I understand how they feel, I remember being that kid that would say ‘this old black man with his tailored suits just don’t get me!’ ” One thing that I wrote down while taking notes was “Eyes can be confused in two ways”.

Anyway, I know this was something different than what I usually do but I really wanted to share my thoughts on this. I’m not really one that will spend my time spouting about “The Man”, etc but this is something I definitely think about. This is one of the major reasons why I wanted to go back to college and finish my degree. I love to learn, to experience new things, new ways of thought. I’ve already opened my mind more than I thought possible and I still have far to go.

Please let me know what your thoughts are. Did you get this from The Allegory of the Cave? If not, what did you take from it?

Good Readance,
Jade

Reading Black Authors

I recently read a book by a black author and I loved it. It had nothing to do with the author’s race or our connection through ‘blackness’. I never really cared what race wrote what book, it’s never had any bearing on my thoughts of the book. I have never wanted to limit myself and I refuse to let anything stop me from reading. If it’s a great story, I’ll read a book by any race.

Recently, I joined a facebook group for black women that love to read and it’s really blown my mind. The camaraderie, the honesty, and the uplifting comments really made me feel like I belonged. As an introvert, that’s a huge deal. Members posts the books they are currently reading or their views on an upload. So I chose one book they suggested to me, and I will be doing a review on it, but I really liked it and in turn I picked up 3 other books I saw posted to the group. Once you gain my trust, I might just start listening to you.

Sometimes I’m not too sure about the suggestions I get. Before, when I was just randomly asking out to the world, I’d have people suggest political books, which I’m not very fond of (Am I going to read Fire and Fury? I have no idea). I’ve had someone suggest I read overly religious books, fire and brimstone types, and I’m usually iffy on those as well. I can be a stickler, with no real guidelines, but usually I will pick it up and crack it open.

Whenever I ask for suggestions people want to know what I’m looking for and I can’t really answer that question. I tell them to just give me their favorites, nothing political, nothing religious but people like to push their favorites so…eh.

I love to read different genres. As a kid I started with Julie Garwood’s The Wedding and fell in love with romance. I went through phases of Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie and wild wonders like James Patterson’s Angel Experiment series and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. I didn’t move into non-fiction and biographies until I got older. On Writing by Stephen King, Steve Jobs, and Shark Tales by Barbara Corcoran were a few that I loved.

I can’t really choose an ultimate favorite genre because I’ve read so many books and I’ve loved so many that fit different criteria. I’m a big fan of mystery, romance, and psychological thrillers but I’m also an avid reader of paranormal romance, futuristic science fiction and oddball humor. I like to hear about different walks of life but I love it to be in story form. I’m not a fan of the fifth grade history book biography theme.

I am African American and I write but I never thought it was a big deal. There was nothing in my upbringing that told me black people can’t be writers. No one, other than those who told me to choose a career that was going to make money, told me I couldn’t succeed at being an author. I’ve been reading adult novels since I was seven and it never crossed my mind that people thought this was incredulous. I’ve never pulled up the authors profiles to check and I’ve never seen a “Written by a Black Author” sticker on any covers in Barnes and Nobles. Have you?

That being said, I do want to support my own people. I do feel that it’s important that they know we are reading their novels and are behind them 100 percent. Since joining this facebook group, I’ve heard about more black authors than ever in my entire life.  As a bibliophile and book addict I’ve obviously added a ton of novels to my To Be Read file. I’m very excited. Hopefully I will find more gems like Allegedly, a book by Tiffany D. Jackson. I have a few more on my list, suggestions from the group, and will be doing reviews on them here. If you have any thoughts on this or if it’s a thought you’ve had let’s chat!

Good Readance,

Jade

 

P.S. If you have any suggestions send ’em right over! Don’t be afraid!