I am the daughter of an English teacher. My mother is a lover of classical literature. Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe make her happy. Toni Morrison and Zore Neale Hurston give her life (they give me life, too). She claims that she would read to me until she was out of breath. When I got to the point in school where we came home with Summer Reading Lists, she would allow us (I also have a brother) to pick the required amount of books and then she would give us her OWN list of books we needed to read in addition to the summer reading requirements. Her list was always real Black. At first, this was met with a massive side-eye, but as time progressed, I didn’t mind. The Summer Reading lists rarely had anything I wanted to read on them anyway. I would scour the list and immediately search for the black authors. There were few. I remember Maya Angelou being one of them. I would hurriedly read the required books, so that I could savor the books I really wanted to read.
Do you remember the book or books that changed your life? Many people have a soundtrack of their life. I know I do. But, I also have a booktrack (I just made that up.) I can remember the day I went to the library and picked up Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin. I can remember devouring it and returning a few days later in search of anything else by James Baldwin. I ended up with If Beale Street Could Talk. I remember reading Alex Haley’s “Roots.” It was the first book I read that made me cry, made me angry, made me proud and changed me forever. Roots was a turning point for me. It totally shifted how I thought and felt about history and gave me the first awareness of my connection to Africa. A report on the Harlem Renaissance led me to Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” and all things Zora Neale Hurston and I have been in love with that period and all of the writers of that era since the day I picked up the book of poetry with that poem in it. I was in the 7th grade. There’s so much more I could share, but I shall save it for later.
After 8 full years of school (4 years in undergrad, 3 years in law school, 1 year in business school and a summer of bar study) and reading what other people wanted me to read, I decided to devote the rest of my literary days only to books I WANTED to read. Yes, I reclaimed my time! I am very intentional about the books I choose to read. At this point in my life, I am dedicated to literature by us, for us and about us. I am also a fauxhistorian (that’s what I like to call myself), so many of my book selections focus on our history.
My favorite pastime is anything book related. I love to discuss books on Facebook, in person, via text messages, etc. I love my book club! I love to talk about the last book I read. I love to hear about what other people are reading. I love to compare and contrast. I love to uncover new authors. I love to re-read the classics (especially the ones that I first read as a teenager). I am trying to go back and read all of the things I missed. I love going to bookstores and just spending time there. I just love books. I especially love black books. So many books, so little time…
This blog is a celebration of black literature. It’s interesting. It’s exciting. It’s thought provoking. It’s entertaining. It’s engaging. It’s important. It’s meaningful. It’s Lit! I cannot wait to discuss the latest great reads with you. And I want to know what you’re reading, too! Thanks for joining me on my literary journey.