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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: It’s All About The Details

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!

Good morrow and happy Friday! Today I wanted to share a trio of articles that have me feeling all kinds of things. Aliens? Possibly. Gender-defying historical shocks? For sure. Love and relationships? You betcha. Today’s list is all of the things, and I loved diving into each topic. I hope you do, too. The list is below.

Read

“Scientists Identify a Medieval Artist by the Blue Gemstone in Her Teeth” by Becky Ferreira for Motherboard

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Magnified view of ultramarine in dental calculus. Image: Monica Tromp

As a history buff with a taste for the medieval this article tickled my fancy right away! For background: illuminated manuscripts and bibles were incredibly popular in the Middle Ages. Scribes working in monasteries produced texts that mystify viewers to this day. It’s long been believed that only men, or monks, were allowed to undertake this task. However, this new discovery has scholars rethinking just who the artists were and how they had access to such rare goods. It’s quite the find! I love how long-held beliefs can be changed in an instant by the simplest of realizations.

You can read the full article {here}

“Repeated Radio Signals Coming From Galaxy 1.5 Billion Light Years Away, Scientists Announce” by Andrew Griffin for the Independent

A second mysterious repeating fast radio burst has been detected in space

Depending on how you feel about space, this is rather exciting! Scientists believe the radio signals could be transmitting from an alien source, which could be cool, or they could be the result of the death of a star. Either way, the phenomenon certainly deserves our acknowledgement.

You can read the full article {here}

“Serena: The Power of Unapologetic Greatness” by  Ashley C. Ford for Allure

Allure February 2019 Cover Shoot - Serena Williams
Allure Magazine

In this profile by Ashley C. Ford, Serena opens up about her marriage, modeling strength of character and body to her daughter, and finding the path to greatness that most aligns with her beliefs. I really love anything to do with Serena, so I just had to share it here. Her vulnerability and candor are so refreshing.

You can read the full article {here}

That’s it for this week! See ya with the next one.

Friday Media Prep:Self-Care Is A Many Splendid Things

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 weekend is just around the corner, and today’s list features just the kind of content you’re going to want to delve into while you relax on the sofa with a cup of tea (or a flask). From Big Freedia to a cute English dude, these pieces of media have kept me afloat and smiling when I’d much rather be sulking over the cold. Enjoy!

Reading

“I Spend $2,116 On My Beauty Routine, But Only $12 On My Skin” by Quinta Brunson for Glamour

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet or texting with friends there’s a chance you’ve come across a gif or meme of Ms. Brunson. To call her hilarious and lovable would be a serious understatement. She spent years working with Buzzfeed, but now she is taking television by storm. Glamour got her to share her beauty routine, which you’re gonna love. It’s honest, simple, but also fabulously extra in ways that are relatable.

You can read it {here}

Quinta Brunson
Brunson, Illustration by Aimee Sy

Art

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Image via legacy.com

The Art of Tamara Natalie Madden is captivating while managing to be iconoclastic. Without knowing it, you find yourself wrestling with multiple disciplines and emotions in the presence of her artwork. Sadly, she passed away in 2017, but her voice lives on in every canvas. You can see some pieces of her work below.  All images are courtesy of The Morning News. You can see the rest {here}

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“Bee Keeper” from her series The Guardians
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“Keeper of the Golden City”
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“The Black Queen”

Watch 

And finally, to the videos! First up is musician (and gorgeous icon) Big Freedia. She sat down with Broadly to talk about identity, finding your voice, and owning your truth. As a fellow unicorn, I loved this video. Check it out.

 

Last, but certainly not least, is the lovely music of Loyle Carner. This criminally young British rapper has been on repeat in my ear since 2018 and for good reason: fresh lyrics, captivating beats, and tons heart. Below is his song “The Isle of Arran” which is a gut-punch. Enjoy!

Now that my part is finished, it’s your turn to go out and turn up for the weekend, in whatever way you choose. See you next week!

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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!

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The author with her pup.
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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?

Friday Media Prep: Zen AF

Have you ever seen images of a cat following a laser light on the wall? Frantically swiping at the apparition like it can be captured only to work itself into a tizzy? That’s me with this phone! When I’m not working or practicing a few minutes of self-care I am absolutely GLUED to my mobile partner in crime. Twitter is my main vice of the moment – I can scarce remember the years before my timeline. With every bit of breaking news I am thrust back into the maelstrom, terrified I might miss out on something. In all honesty, I think I get a sense of power from feeling like I know every little thing going on in  the world at large. But, what does that matter if my blood pressure is high and I can’t muster enough self-control to slow down? So, this weekend I’m putting myself first and committing to the art of relaxation. I can’t guarantee I’ll be phone-free, but I can promise I won’t be a ball of nerves!

I want to share two videos that I’m really digging right now. As I go deeper into learning how to meditate and practice mindfulness, I’ve been grateful for the peace of mind they’ve given me. The first is from Holistic Habits on Youtube, who shares some of her tips for a healthy night of sleep (something I could use right about now). Second, is a lovely – and long – musical video dedicated to helping you unwind and relax. Enjoy!