I used to run my hands along the books on the wooden bookshelves that were in the hall upstairs in my home. It contained a myriad of first edition African-American novels from Frederick Douglas to Malcolm X. Growing up I was particularly intrigued by the title Giovanni’s Room. I wondered what the story could be about. I remember reading the back cover but still not being so sure. I always heard my mother and especially my uncle persuasively explaining to me the importance of James Baldwin’s works, emphasizing Another Country (my favorite so far), Going to Meet the Man, and Go Tell it on the Mountain. I grew up having these titles in mind but Giovanni’s Room, for some reason, was always in the forefront, probably because it was the first book of his that I held in my hands.
Sadly it has taken me forty years to read one of Baldwin’s novels. I read lots of African-American authors at college for my major but Baldwin surprisingly never came up. Four years ago, I read and thoroughly enjoyed If Beale Street could Talk. The year after I read Giovanni’s Room. I’m so glad I finally got to the book that perked my interest at such a young age because of the title alone. I followed up by reading Another Country and The Fire Next Time. Both are incredible literary works that everybody should read before they die. I still have more to discover by Baldwin.
So I guess you’re wondering why I’m writing about my reading discovery of James Baldwin. Well I thought I’d let you all in on a reading project that one of my Booktube buddies, Denise D. Cooper ArtBooks Life (Awesome creative Booktuber go check her out!) will be doing next year. It’s called The Blackout for Books 2018. She’ll be reading books by African-American authors for twelve months. The rules are the following:
- Only read African-American writers
- Read 1 independent writer each month
- Read 2 African-American Women Writers each month
It’s as easy as that. I commend her for this and I’ll be joining her for January, February, and March of 2018. I can’t wait. It would be great if you all could join in too for any amount of time you’d like. So, now you know a bit more about why I started this post talking about James Baldwin. I’ll punctually be writing posts about some of my favorite African-American writers and about those that I haven’t read yet but are looking forward to read in preparation for this reading challenge. This will give you some ideas if you aren’t sure what you’d like to read. If you decide to participate, don’t forget to link your comments with #the blackoutforbooks2018 everywhere. Let me know below what you think about this reading challenge and if you’re interested in joining in. Happy reading y’all!
9 Replies to “Reading Baldwin…”
What a noble effort! Good luck!
Thanks Phyllis! How are you?
Awesome. Thanks so much Didi, I believe I will learn and grow so much as a writer and reader next year. I am siked for it all to begin.
You are very welcome! I feel like I’m going to be exploring my writing a bit more as well. Things are changing in my profession and that might just be for the better. 😉
I still haven’t read anything by James Baldwin… but I plan to! I keep hearing about how great he is…
This project sounds like fun – I’m looking forward to following along!
Definitely try Baldwin. Powerful! It would be cool if you could join in.
I read my first Baldwin this year when I picked up The Fire Next Time. I followed that one up with Giovanni’s Room, which I also loved. His writing in that one was so evocative — I felt like I was seeing the scene, not just reading it. I’ve picked up Go Tell It On The Mountain for my next one by him, and I’m hoping to read it this fall. Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on Baldwin.
Hmmm…Verrrrry interesting! You’ve brought back memories for me. I read Giovanni’s Room in the 1970s, before I was even mature enough to know what I was reading about, yet, James Baldwin’s writing was unlike anything I had every come across, and that made me hungry to read more works by him.
I’m going to think about how I would like to participate in The Blackout for Books 2018 – I know it won’t be for the whole year, but I’d like my participation to be very intentional. Thanks for the heads-up!
I’m happy to hear you’re interested. The more the merrier. I’ll definitely be reading some Baldwin.
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