Hello Meltingpot Readers,
It’s February! That means my birthday is coming up, Valentine’s Day is around the corner and of course, it’s Black History Month. Now, I already told you last week that I think we should be calling it Black Cool Month and making February a month of celebrating the coolness that Black people bring to the table every day. That being the case, I can’t think of a better way to do that, than by highlighting some awesome, new(ish) books by Black authors that will make you swoon. More than swoon, they’ll make you realize why Black people deserve an entire month of praise as well as special displays at the local public library.
And I’m not the only one suggesting you read books by Black authors to celebrate Black history month. I’d say it’s one of the easiest ways to get into the spirit…and you’d don’t even have to talk to any actual Black people, if that makes you uncomfortable. You can just read about them and do your celebrating second-hand. The author reaps the benefit of you buying their book and you get a great source of entertainment and maybe a little learning too. The thing is, a lot of people think reading a book about Black people has to mean reading books written before 1970. That’s just not true. Black people kept writing beyond the Civil Rights Movement and are still writing today.
So, without further ado, here are The Meltingpot’s Top Five picks for books you should read for Black Cool Month in 2018.
1. Black Ink: Literary Legends on the Peril, Power, and Pleasure of Reading and Writing edited by Stephanie Stokes Oliver. This has got to be the best book to read for Black history month because it’s a book about reading and writing by Black people. It’s kind of meta, but if you can get over that, Black Ink is just an amazing compilation of Black writers writing about the power of the written word. We hear from the likes of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin and Roxane Gay. Oliver has literally curated a collection of the most powerful Black voices to remind us and inspire us about how far we’ve come as a people on the page.
2. An American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club 2018 Selection)by Tayari Jones. I probably would have suggested this book anyway, because Tayari Jones is a brilliant storyteller, but now Oprah has gotten involved and selected An American Marriage for her book club pick for 2018, so, you know it’s got to be good. So, now you should read this book not only because I says so, but because now you can see if you and Oprah have the same taste in books.
3. The Book of Harlanby Bernice McFadden. So, this book isn’t exactly new, but it is McFadden’s latest novel and it is AMAZING. It is literally the epic story of one man’s life, from birth to death, that takes us from Harlem, to Nazi Germany, to the race riots in Newark, New Jersey. Not only is this book an award-winning offering from McFadden, it was just recently selected as the inaugural book for Dr. Ian K. Smith’s online book club, the Nubian Book Nook. So, you can read Harlan with a group of online buddies and have great discussions too.
4. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History Yes, this technically is a children’s book, but you don’t have to be a child to fall in love with Harrison’s delightful drawings of our favorite Black sheros. From Harriet Tubman to Dominique Dawes, the book provides a summary of each woman’s claim to fame and leaves the reader firmly believing in #BlackGirlMagic.
5. How to Slay: Inspiration from the Queens and Kings of Black Style by Constance C.R. White. Hot off the presses yesterday, this is a gorgeous coffee table book that offers an illustrated overview of African-American style through the 20th century. White is a journalist and fixture on the fashion scene, a former style reporter for The New York Times, she is the perfect person to compile this important book. Read this book if you want to learn how influential Black people have been in American fashion and style and/or if you just like looking at pretty pictures of beautiful people.
Do you have any titles to add? What are you reading in February? I’m listening.