Friday Media Prep: You MUST Read These 5 Books By Black Women

Every Friday I will feature the inspiring books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art you have to check out.  Please share your suggestions below!

Who would we be without books? I often think about the times in my life when a book brought be back from the darkness, and the ways reading made my life seem worthwhile again. On the other side of that coin are all the times an author pushed me to the brink, forcing my spirit to see things I hadn’t previously perceived. There is magic in the written word and being able to wield worlds in the space between covers.

Black women who write have been my salvation. In this life, in this body, I have felt the most magically undone at the hands of their words.  That is why I’ve chosen to feature five books by five authors who came into my life at exactly the right time. Each book has coaxed a pinch of growth from my soul whether I was prepared for it or not, which is precisely what a good book is supposed to do. I truly hope you will give one or all of these books a go after reading why I have loved them. Enjoy!

Image result for the bluest eye

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 

I owe an eternal debt to Oprah’s Book Club for selecting this book, which led to my mother buying the book, leaving it laying around, and catching my eye (no pun intended). The young black girl on the cover – a representation of the heroine, Pecola – felt familiar in a way no book had before. The contents were more familiar than I’d dare imagine.

Set in Ohio, the short novel follows two black sisters and their relationship with the young Pecola, a little girl who is considered ugly, because of her dark skin, short hair, and poverty. Pecola wishes for blue eyes so that she may be as beautiful as the dolls in the shops, and the novel tracks her quest to capture them. To call this book heartbreaking would be an understatement, but reading it made me feel less alone and seen in unforseen ways. It’s a brilliant  exploration of generational trauma, colorism, self-loathing, racism and the effects of poverty. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Image result for parable of the sower octavia butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

I don’t think there’s a more  pertinent book for any of us to read in these times. Set in the very near future, Octavia E. Butler’s book (the first of two) is set in a time of climate-related disaster, broken governments and wealth inequality. The heroine, Lauren, possesses “hyperempathy”, or the ability to feel the pain and emotions of others as she witnesses it.  Lauren develops a religion called Earthseed in order to prepare those who follow her for a life beyond Earth.

Octavia E. Butler’s books changed my mind about what kinds of books Black women are allowed to write. For years I thought only White men could craft science fiction adventures, as that was all I had available in my library. Stumbling upon Ms. Butler’s books in Barnes and Noble one day changed all that, thankfully. Her vision is unmatched, in my humble opinion, and her capacity for hope has kept me from losing my own.

Image result for dancing on the edge of the roof

Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams

Black women in love gives me my greatest joy. Plain old, regular degular love, folks. I have inherited a soft heart from my mother, one that craves romance and tales of starting over to discover what lies beneath our fears and dreams. This lovely book by Sheila Williams was one of my first romance novels, and I have returned to it time and time again. It is delightfully effervescent, the kind of story that I didn’t want to end when it finally had to.

The story follows middle-aged mother and new grandmother, Juanita, on her journey to California to start her life again. She gets broken down in a small Montana town along the way and finds more than she bargained for – home.

Image result for white teeth zadie smith

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

This book i just damn good. I mean, hopefully you know about the powerhouse talent that is Zadie Smith, but if not you should get acquainted with her via this one. I can scarce sum it up without going on for days, so just suffice to say that you have to give her a go. White Teeth has it all: War, love, science, 90s-era nostalgia, race, and transcendence. Dear reader, you would be remiss to skip it.

Image result for passing nella larsen

Passing by Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen tackled a topic that I believe is still very taboo in the Black community. The concept of “passing”, i.e. being of a light enough complexion to cross the color barrier and claim a White identity, was and is something few of us talk about. Nella Larsen herself played with race in her own life, living alternately as a Black woman in the Harlem Renaissance, then attempting to disappear into White society to escape the persecution.

This book explores the lives of two friends who can pass for White and the paths they chose, one as a White woman married to a White man, and the other as a Black woman married to a Black man. It left me with sinking feeling, but it was a necessary exercise if I want to truly be considered a “book person”. This book is going to be made into a film, which I look forward to watching.

That’s all for today, my friends! Thank you, as always for coming along on the journey with me. Enjoy your weekends, whether you be snowed in, or free to roam the streets. Maybe give one of these titles a once-over?

 

Friday Media Prep: Forward, Ho!

Every Friday we will feature the inspiring books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art you have to check out. Please share your suggestions below!

The month of November is already coming to a close a little sooner than I would like, but there is so much to look forward to in December. New books, new experiences and new discoveries lay just around the corner. To finish out the month I’ve got a few suggestions that I think will be particularly interesting and help foster the kind of forward momentum we all need before the end of the year. Happy Friday!

Books

Negroland by Margo Jefferson

Jesse Kadjo gifted this memoir by Margo Jefferson to me earlier in the week when I went to help her move, and I cannot wait to dive into it! Margo’s work details how her life as a member of the Black elite separated her from many African Americans and how discrimination and privilege play out in the Black community. It’s a work of art worth paying attention to, to say the least.

 

Articles

  • Them.
A darkened figure with her earrings, lipstick and ring highlighted.
Image via Them. by Tallulah Fontaine

Crimes against members of the Trans community are higher than any other group, particularly when you are a Trans person of color. The article I’m sharing, entitled “The Gap Between Glamour and Death For Trans Women of Color”, is a personal essay detailing the war between being out and proud in your beauty as a Trans person and staying alive.

You can read it [here]

  • BookFox

I’ve been reading BookFox, the superb blog of writer and editor John Fox, as I continue to develop my understanding of the writing world. In the post “The Power of Quitting: Why Every Writer Should Learn To Quit”, he gives advice that I desperately needed to to hear – that sometimes it’s not only ok, but best, for you to walk away from projects. There are times I feel so bad that I haven’t accomplished a goal, but then I remember how important it is to know when you’ve given it all you’ve got. I think it’s an important philosophy to apply to all aspects of life.

You can read it [here]

Music

Last, but not least, is this soothing and positively enchanting song by Johann Johannsson “Flight From The City”. I’ve been obsessed with it for days and I hope it brings you the kind of calming warmth it provided me.

Friday Media Prep: Viola Davis is Basically My Religion Now

I’m not even going to waste your time with a flashy-pants intro, because it’s Friday and we need to jump right into the goods and the celebration!

 classic film lena horne broadway rhythm GIF

Movies: Widows

At a very young age I was taught that it’s wrong to idolize people. As humans, we’re doomed to let one another down, ideals of what makes a good person are constantly changing and we all eventually fade away. More than anything, though, I think my parents were just afraid I would join a cult. Sadly (for them) I officially belong to the cult of Viola Davis, but can you blame me?! She’s brilliant, talented, kind, and emulates the kind of beauty I’ve spent most of my adult life chasing. So, you can bet your sweet booty that I’m running out to see Widows this weekend. The film, starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriquez, Liam Neeson, and Daniel Kaluuya, is about a group of widows to bank robbers who must take up their husbands’ failed heist to save themselves. I’m so there. Here’s the trailer if you need a little more of a push:

 

Reading: “A Toy Monkey That Escaped Nazi Germany And Reunited  A Family”

Gert Berliner by Claire Harbage/NPR

I was fortunate to read some quality works this week, but this piece from NPR about a man who escaped Nazi Germany with only a toy monkey for comfort and how that toy changed his life really punched me in the gut – in a good way. I highly recommend reading and giving in to some therapeutic crying. Read it [here]

Bonus: The School of Life

It always seems like The School of Life knows what silent battles are being waged in the back corners of my heart, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when they posted this video on how to stop worrying about being liked. It’s been one of the hardest lessons of my life, but I’m close to getting to a place where I’m not broken by every rejection, or burning for approval from the people I come into contact with. This video is a great reminder that deep, genuine connections are often rare, but always worth the vulnerability.

That’s all for me this Friday! Go out and live like you’re meant to.

mariah carey hello GIF

Friday Media Prep: The Books of Juliet Marillier

One of my favorite things to do is wandering the aisles of book stores. I can spend hours dragging my fingers across the bindings, sniffing the paper scent,  quietly daydreaming about the adventures within the pages. I spent a lot of time in Barnes and Noble when I was back in Kansas, munching on the New York style cheesecake sold at the cafe as I flipped through a book that caught my eye. I have no shame in admitting that I very often judge books by their covers, because my prejudice (when it comes to literature) has yet to lead me astray.

The last time I bought a book based solely on the composition of the cover was Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier. I had never heard of the author before, but the title sounded promising enough to warrant some investigation. Next to it were the last two books in The Sevenwaters Series: Seer of Sevenwaters and Flame of Sevenwaters, but I didn’t want to buy all three without knowing if I would enjoy even one. So, after a little internal negotiation, I went home with the first, only to discover that  Heir to Sevenwaters wasn’t the first in the series (silly me!) but the fourth installment. Praise be to Google books and online reviewers who made the plot of the previous three books clear enough for me to feel certain I could follow along!

Related image
The author with her pup.
Image result for juliet marillier
Such a juicy cover!

Luckily, Juliet writes with such precision and beauty that I was instantly sucked into the world of medieval Ireland  and the story of the family destined to protect the magic of their lands. If you enjoy strong female leads who are resourceful, bright, brave and loving then this series is definitely for you. It doesn’t hurt that there’s some romance, too. I’ve finished the entire series now and I must say that I am so glad the cover caught my eye that day in Barnes and Noble, or I might have missed out on a family that I’ve come to love. I’m looking forward to reading more of Juliet’s work and discovering different authors and their stories as I wander the aisles. What are you reading these days?

Media Prep

Every Friday we will feature the inspiring books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art you have to check out. Please share your suggestions below!

We’ve been granted another weekend to celebrate, so let’s do it! This week we’ve rounded up some of the best pieces of music, literature, and commentary for you to explore, as well as the movies hitting the scene. From Scarlett Johansson to mermaids, this list is a doozy. Enjoy!

Movies

Sorry to Bother You premiers this week and we can’t wait to see it. The film debut of musician Boots Riley, Sorry to Bother You has been highly anticipated since it was first screened at Sundance in January. Lakeith Stanfield leads a cast of Danny Glover, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews and Armie Hammer in a look at race, wealth, identity and perception through the lens of a young black man. If nothing else this film is definitely timely.

Ant Man and the Wasp

This is the 8 millionth Marvel movie to hit the cinemas in their 10 year dominiation streak, but we can’t stop running to the theaters to check out the films. Ant Man and the Wasp is the sequel to Ant Man (2015), which followed thief Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) as he teamed with Hank Pym and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly) to save the day by shrinking to the size of an insect. Sounds crazy, but was so good! The sequel promises just as much of a fun ride, so you should check it out with the rest of us nerds.

Music

High as Hope by Florence + The Machine

This is the band’s fourth album and it arguably goes deeper than ever before. Florence Welch has opened up about her struggles with alcoholism, disordered eating, family relationships, and aging. Her voice soars and swells, stripped down to the essentials to deliver something beautiful. You can catch videos of the band’s recent performance here .

Books

The Seas by Samantha Hunt

Samantha Hunt’s novel is being reissued , and we highly recommend giving it a look if you’re interested in thinking about the nature of reality and identity through the eyes of a young girl. Narrated by a young girl who doesn’t reveal her name, the story explores her isolation with her mother in a small town and her belief she is a mermaid. We suspect the novel will stick with you long after you’ve put it down.

Articles

It was recently announced that Scarlett Johansson would be playing a trans man in her upcoming flick “Rub and Tug”. Writing for Slate, Evan Urquhart explains why it’s not only inappropriate, but downright offensive.  If you’re struggling to understand what all the commotion is about, Evan makes it quite clear. At a time when there is push back from marginalized groups about who gets to tell their stories, this misstep is particularly frustrating. Read Evan’s article here.

(If you already knew about Scarlett’s nonsense and just want to laugh at the burns she received, go here.)

In not so great news, the Trump administration is working to undo an Obama-era protection for diversity on college campuses, essentially creating a timeline for the revocation of Affirmative Action. You can read more about the process here.

Finally, in news that gives us hope for the future: on the 4th of July activist Therese Patricia Okoumou climbed the Statue of Liberty to protest the separation of children from their parents by I.C.E and the administration’s treatment of immigrants in general. Upon her release she had this to say,

“Michelle Obama, our beloved First Lady that I care about so much, said when they go low, we go high. And I went as high as I could.”

Please have that printed on a shirt for me IMMEDIATELY.

You can read more about Therese and view her press conference here.

That’s all for this week, folks! Take care of yourself out there!