The Christmas holiday is nearly upon us so it’s time to make those lists and check them twice. Instead of buying your dad another tie and your little sister another sweater,why not give the gift of a great book? Also, if you’re going to spend dollars on literature, it’s always good to support Black authors who tell our stories from our perspective. Want another great reason to give your family and friends the gift of reading? You won’t have to throw ‘bows at the mall trying to grab the hottest video game or coolest cashmere. No one’s acting a fool at the bookstore. While you’re there, don’t forget to pick up a little something for yourself to enjoy. Unsure of which title to choose? Here are our picks for the best books by African American authors that have been released in the last 18 months.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
This critically acclaimed work has received rave reviews from O Magazine, Essence, and the LA Times. This story takes place in middle-class Atlanta in the 1980s and centers on two little girls who share the same father, but live in two different worlds. The girls’ father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist who has two families: a public one and a private one. Dana knows her dad has another family and struggles to deal with feeling second-best. Bunny doesn’t know her father has another daughter and is unknowingly living a lie. The girls meet and become friends. When their worlds collide, secrets are revealed and illusions are shattered. Beautifully written and explosive, Silver Sparrow is the perfect present for the book-lover in your family.
32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter
Ernessa T. Carter’s debut novel is both hilarious and poignant. The story follows Davie Jones a Black girl who grows up in a small town in Mississippi. Derided by her own mother as well as her classmates, Davie stops talking and takes comfort in Molly Ringwald movies like 16 Candles . She hopes that someday she’ll have a happy ending like in the movies. She is in love with the most popular, handsome boy in school who barely knows she exists. After a particularly traumatic incident concerning her crush, Davie runs off to Los Angeles and reinvents herself as a nightclub singer. However, when her high school crush turns up in her life, old demons arise. This novel is refreshing, romantic, hilarious and heart-breaking all at once. 32 Candles a perfect gift for a friend, but make sure you pick up a copy for yourself as well.
The Warmth of Other Suns The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
The Warmth of Other Suns is a stunning historical chronicle by Pulitzer-prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson. This epic work chroniclesthe decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in order to find a better future. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of nearly six million people changed the face of America. This is a worthwile read for anyone, but the family history buff will love it the best.
Perfect Peace by Daniel Black
Pefect Peace is a gripping novel that centers on Emma Jean Peace’s decision to raise her seventh son, Perfect, as the daughter she has always wanted. Emma’s secret gender-bend is discovered when Perfect is 8 years old. Perfect, his family and a small Arkansas town must deal with the the fallout. Pick this book up and you won’t want to put it down.
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marble
What’s the perfect present for that Afro-centric family member in your life? Malcolm X’s new biography written by Columbia University professor, Manning Marable. This definitive work is filled with “new information and shocking revelations.” This book is exhaustively researched and chronicles in detail Malcom’s life from boyhood. It’ll definitely make for some intellectually stimulating conversation at Christmas dinner.
One Day It’ll All Make Sense by Common
In One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Common tells the story of his extraordinary life from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to becoming a internationally renowned and respected recording artist. In this captivating memoir he tells stories of his famous friends such as Tupac and Lauryn Hill as well as revealing lessons that he learned in life and in love. This is perfect for the hip-hop head in your circle.
Romancing the MD by Maureen Smith
In the mood for some light, Hot reading that you can devour on the plane home for the holidays? Pick up this steamy, romance novel from Maureen Smith. This tale centers Dr. Tamara St. John and Dr. Victor Aguilar’s sensual relationship and even deals honestly with issues of their interracial relationship; she’s black and he’s latino. Grey’s Anatomy eat your heart out.
Do you love to read? What are your favorite books of 2011?
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