It’s almost time to wrap up this year (Ha! see what I did there) but I didn’t want to let you go without passing on the gift of a good read. This blog isn’t by any means a book review source but I am an advent reader who happens to work in a library. I’ve re-discovered some classics and found new treasures. If you’re looking for something to cuddle up with by your YouTube TV fire (because who has a real fireplace nowadays, am I right?!) just check out this list of great books that will give you all the feels this season.
This year I was all about supporting my fellow melanin drenched “brothas” and “sistas” but this first book was actually written by a beautiful young, Caucasian female and it has been my favorite for the year.
#1 Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado
This book is a narrative straight from the life and experiences of Linda Tirado who identified as a working wife and mother struggling with poverty and all the details that it encompasses. She touches on working in the American capitalistic system, having little to no access to important resources like healthcare and public assistance, poor wages and working conditions; all while giving the inside scoop of why people dealing with poverty make certain choices. I read this book within three days and it would’ve been faster but I had this thing called a job. Needless to say, the book was glued to my hand every chance I got. I could relate to her experiences in many ways and felt as though someone was telling my side, my mother’s side, my sister’s side of the story being from a low-income background myself. It was a refreshing insight and response to many of the snarky comments made about those struggling with poverty to those well above it. MUST READ!
#2 The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I heard you guys sigh and saw you roll your eyes once you got to this book title but hear me out! THE BOOK IS SOOOOO MUST BETTER!!! Look, I know Oprah shows this movie damn near every other day on the OWN channel but just like with any movie adaptation, it only captures the essence of the book, not the details that change the way you relate and see characters. I had only ever seen the movie but I was curious as to how beautifully the book was written since it was powerful enough to move Oprah in the earlier years of her career. Now I understand the obsession. Do yourself a favor and read this book at least once in your life.
#3 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Ok, you got me! It’s pretty obvious that I’ve been hooked on African American literary classics this year but I couldn’t help it. Unlike most people, I wasn’t made to read this in school so upon seeking legendary mentors I easily stumbled onto this breathtaking autobiography by the beautiful Maya Angelou. THIS BOOK made me laugh out loud so hard (at work when I was sneaking to read AWKWARD), cry, cringe, and find myself in every page. Even if you’ve read this in high school you should read it again because you have newer, world submerged eyes that will give the book’s words more meaning to you; especially as a black woman even if you aren’t technically a black woman. That’s how powerful this book is!
#4 and #5 Jump by Steve Harvey and Black Privilege by Charlamagne AudioBooks
I’ve discovered audio books guys! Where have they been all my life?! I love, love, love hearing a great, original narrative in the voice of someone who is already a personality or celebrity. Steve Harvey’s JUMP has all the elements of a good self help book with just enough relatbility so that you feel it’s possible to go after your dreams too. I love how he walks his readers through all the ups and downs of going after your dreams.
Black Privilege is my favorite of the two; however, because I listened to this book at a critical turning point in my professional life. I literally was working a crappy job as a security guard and sat to listen to the Breakfast Club morning show personality tell me about how to turn your disadvantages into advantages. How to turn your flawed beginnings into favor. I listened as an eight hour shift felt like a personal conversation with “Uncle Charla” who made me laugh, shake my head and believe in myself. ( BTW I got an amazing job a week later) For entrepreneurs afraid to take that next step these two books are a great place to start.
#6 Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington
This book does an amazing job of chronologically exposing all of the insidious undersides to medical practices, research and treatment that has plagued Black Americans from slavery even into the present. While the book is a bit of a difficult read due to medical terms; Washington makes it worth while through her explanation of how Black Americans have been treated in the medical industry through all aspects. This was one of my favorites this year.
#7 How White Folks Got so Rich
Don’t let the title of the book fool you. It is not a bashing session that aims to divide; instead, I found the book to be eye opening in explaining the dormant feats that many black Americans are expected to undergo while our Caucasian counterparts take advantage of their privilege (most of which they don’t even realize they or you have). Even for the “We all have it the same” skeptics it’s worth a read to incorporate an opposing narrative into your space…only then should you form an opinion.
There are at least 10 books that I’ve read that didn’t make the list. I didn’t want to make it too long. This year I was fascinated by non-fiction and self help as opposed to my usual dystopia YA novels. Don’t get it twisted. I’m a lover of books written by an array of people who come in all shapes and flavors. Maybe next year I’ll have another genre obsession.
Hopefully, these personal explanations will serve as a small taste for you until you make the decision to dive in completely.