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A Reading List

February 3, 2009

Edited to clarify: I don’t intend to read all of these books in February! I just like putting together lists of books on various topics. ;) They’re on my TBR list, but it’s got a ton of books there, so I doubt I’ll get to them soon.

It’s been awhile since I put together a fun book list, so I thought I’d do one in honour of Black History Month. It’s a combination of fiction and nonfiction, and all are books I haven’t read (since it was my list!). Oh, and it’s focused on the African American experience, but feel free to suggest non-America books in the comments!

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2009 8:16 am

    Have you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe? (I’m assuming you have …)

    I’ve read some of those on your list, and I enjoyed most of what I read.

  2. February 3, 2009 8:36 am

    Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin is a great collection of essays that would fit perfectly on this list.

  3. February 3, 2009 8:59 am

    Are you planning to read all of these during Feb? That’s a lot of books for the shortest month of the year! ;)

    I have picked up Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” in honor of the month. I’ve never read her before, and so far I like what I’ve read, though her writing is so rich and convoluted at times that I need to really pay attention to it, I find.

  4. J.S. Peyton permalink
    February 3, 2009 9:01 am

    Two recent nonfiction books that I’ve been keeping a covetous eye on are “The Hemingses of Monticello,” about Thomas Jefferson’s hidden slave family, and “Ida: A Sword Among Lions,” a biography of Ida B. Wells, a civil rights activist and women’s suffragist. I’ve been trying really, really hard to wait for the paperback in these two books but I don’t know how long I can hold out!

    I’ve a few of the things on your list and I think you’re in for a definite treat in a lot of them. Caution: You might like “Devil in a Blue Dress” so much that you’ll end up reading the whole series. It happened to me.

  5. February 3, 2009 9:05 am

    Of course, I can’t guarantee that you’d enjoy it as much as I did, but I really loved The House at Sugar Beach, Helene Cooper’s memoir about growing up in Liberia as part of the privileged Congo people, and how her life changed when forced to flee to the U.S. after Doe seized power.

  6. February 3, 2009 10:27 am

    A mystery series written by Kyra Davis features an African-American/Latvian-Jewish heroine, Sophie Katz. The books do have some situations that deal with the ethnic/racial mix and people’s reactions. An enjoyable book is Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights, May 2006.

  7. February 3, 2009 10:33 am

    So are these books that you’ve already read? Or are you planning on reading them? Or just want to read them?

    It’s a great list! I’d love to read some of them!

  8. Chelsea permalink
    February 3, 2009 11:23 am

    This looks like quite the list, and one I’m rather jealous of – you have amazing list-putting-together abilities! Also, I love W.E.B. Du Bois! I’m also glad to know that you share my love of John Krasinski! I’m pretty sure he’s my dream man!

  9. February 3, 2009 11:25 am

    I’ve read several on your list. I also love the books by E. Danticat.

  10. February 3, 2009 11:48 am

    Great list. You lean towards the literary and most noted works by African-Americans. I’d like to suggest some contemporary works that are lesser known but noteworthy.

    Regarding YA authors, my favorite YA author is Jacqueline Woodson. She writes realistic fiction. I recommend From The Notebooks of Melanin Sun, Maizon At Blue Hill, The House You Pass On The Way, Dear One, I hadn’t Meant To Tell You This and After Tupac and D Foster.

    For speculative, science fiction, Octavia E. Butler is a must read. I recommend Parable of The Sower, Parable of the Talents, Wild Seed and Bloodchild and Other Short Stories. The first two also fall under dystopian fiction.

    Gloria Naylor is a talented writer. I believe some of her work is classified as magical realism. Mama Day and Bailey’s Cafe are solidly crafted works.

    For poetry, I recommend Our Dead Behind Us by Audre Lorde the ringing ear: Black Poets Lean South edited by Nikky Finney and Abandoned Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001 edited by Melba Joyce Boyd and M.L. Liebler and Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady (nominated for the Pultizer).

    Flying West, a collection of plays by Pearl Cleage is the unsung gem of her work in my opinion. I think her plays are her best work.

  11. February 3, 2009 11:51 am

    And can I hope that you will submit an entry for our Black History Month Writers’ contest at Color Online?

  12. February 3, 2009 12:45 pm

    Forgot to mention Jamaican-American sci-fi writer, Kathi Smith, whose novel includes a black president. Her webpage, http://www.larksong.org describes her novel featuring a Jamaican family and a gifted child who emigrate to the US and take part in catastrophic sci fi events.

  13. February 3, 2009 12:45 pm

    You beat me to it but my list for Black History Month was only four books long. lol You’ve got a lot of good reading there. I’ve read The Color Purple, A Mercy, The Souls of Black Folks, Roots, Their Eyes Were Watching God, A Lesson Before Dying, Black Like me, Middle Passage, Invisible man, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and The Collected Poems. Not a weak one in the bunch. Based on what I have on my shelves my list so far is A Mercy by Toni Morrison, Monique and the Mango Rains by Kim Holloway, What We All Long For by Dionne Brand, and Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. Not all African American or history strictly speaking but Black. Happy reading in February.

  14. February 3, 2009 1:39 pm

    I haven’t read any of those, but one novel that I could not put down, was Cane River by Lalita Tademy. It’s basically the fictionalised account of her family, from the days of slavery up until about the 1930s. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  15. February 3, 2009 3:24 pm

    Can I put in a second plug for Octavia Butler. I think she’s terrific and not all that science fictiony. Her book Kindred is one of the best examinations of slavery and it’s long lasting effects that I’ve read.

  16. February 3, 2009 4:01 pm

    hedgie, great list. Have read them all but C. Dale Young. Thanks for the links.

    cbjames, Kindred is haunting. It stayed with me a long time.

    Is anyone going to mention the seminal work, Roots, especially in light of the recent PBS specials with Louis Gates?

  17. February 3, 2009 4:13 pm

    Wow, this is a great list of interesting books.

    Must… resist…. temptation to add more books to my TBR shelf…

  18. February 3, 2009 5:16 pm

    Holy crap! Let me get out my TBR list and copy these all down. Yay Eva!!! I’m kidding but seriously a bunch of these sound really good :) I love lists too.

  19. February 3, 2009 5:30 pm

    Lesson Before Dying and Roots were awesome reads. I just bought President Obama’s book a few weeks ago!!

    **I’m a compulsive list maker

  20. February 3, 2009 6:11 pm

    WorldLily, you know, I remember trying to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin in high school. But an animal dies really early on, so I abandoned it in outrage. ;) One day I’ll go back to it!

    Erika, thanks for the suggestion!

    Steph, lol-definitely not!! I haven’t read Song of Solomon, but I love Beloved.

    J.S. Peyton, ohh-those both sound awesome! Devil in a Blue Dress is outside my comfort zone-I don’t usually go for the hard-boiled stuff. But maybe I will end up liking it!

    Debi, that one sounds great!

    Harvee, thanks for the suggestion; it sounds very interesting.

    Rebecca, I haven’t read any of them…I’d say it’s more of a ‘want’ than a ‘plan’, lol. Danielle used to do Thursday Thirteen reading lists, and I loved them, so that’s what my model as. :)

    Chelsea, thank you!

    Diane, Danticat’s on my Caribbean reading list. :)

    Hedgie, thanks for the links!

    Susan, thanks for the suggestions! I’m not super-familiar with African American lit, so that’s why I went with the more obvious ones. ;) And sure I’ll submit an entry!

    Harvee, that one sounds neat too!

    Sandra, I’m impressed by how many you’ve already read! Monique and the Mano Rains is really good. :D

    Maree, I read Cane River a couple of years ago, and it was very interesting!

    CB, I’ve read Kindred, and it definitely impressed me.

    Susan, Roots is on my list!! :p

    JM, lol-thanks!

    Samantha, hehe. :D

    Staci, yay for compulsive list makers!

  21. February 3, 2009 6:46 pm

    Eva, and there’s a lot I’m not familiar with which is why I seem to have pulled up a permanent chair here. :-)

    I second Danticat. I listed her on my meme that I got from Eva last week. Highly recommend The Farming of Bones. I’m anxious to read her new works as well.

  22. February 3, 2009 7:09 pm

    Nalo Hopkinson is a Jamaican/Canadian writer of speculative fiction whose work is definitely worth looking at:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Nalo+Hopkinson&x=16&y=22

  23. February 3, 2009 7:28 pm

    That is a great looking list of books you have there! Have fun with your reading!

  24. February 3, 2009 7:55 pm

    I just checked out Their Eyes Were Watching God today in honor of Black History Month. Native Son by Richard Wright is one I remember loving in high school. Have fun with the ones you get to!

  25. February 3, 2009 8:33 pm

    I’ve only read Their Eyes Were Watching God. But I did buy a James Baldwin book yesterday to read for Black History Month.

  26. stacybuckeye permalink
    February 4, 2009 7:45 am

    Thank you for this post! I have the books that I’ve chosen for my reading challenges on a few shelves and your post made me look for ones that might fit well into Black History Month. I don’t have any! So, I’m off to my piles of unread books to find at least one.

  27. February 4, 2009 12:02 pm

    I saw a couple of mentions about Octavia Butler – yes, please add her to your list. Fantastic. Ok, I’ve only read one of her books but was just really impressed by it, Parable of the Sower.

    Thanks for this great list!

  28. February 4, 2009 2:17 pm

    I’d love to read “A Mercy” by Toni Morrison. I am hoping to before the year is out.

  29. February 6, 2009 3:22 am

    Susan, why thank you! I have Danticat on my list, so I’ll check it out. :)

    Hedgie, thanks for another great link!

    Alyce, thanks. :)

    Chain Reader, glad to see another Black History Month reader!

    SoftDrink, good for you! :D

    Stacy Buckeye, no problem! :)

    Iliana, I’ve read Butler’s Kindred and loved it. I’ll have to try Parable of the Sower next. :)

    J. Kaye, I’m currently at number 36 in the library queue. So I’m hoping people read fast!!!

  30. February 6, 2009 9:44 am

    That is an immensely interesting list and there are (too) many books on it that I want to read immediately. I am familiar with several of the authors and have read other works by some of them, but the theme is something I hope I will be able to dig into later when I have more time on my hands. Thanks for a very, very interesting list, Eva. A job well done, but a job which must’ve taken some time to do. WTG.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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