Read Soul Lit Photo Challenge 2021 – Days 10 – 13

Day 10: Book and Bookmark

Children of the Night The Best Short Stories By Black Writers 1967 to the Present is an edition I was lucky enough to purchase in a used book sale in Paris for a whopping 1€! The book sale was selling paperbacks for 0.50€ and hardcovers 1-2€. I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it. This edition was edited and commences with an introduction by the late great Gloria Naylor. Big thank you to @booksandrhymes 🤗for reminding me that I had this book on my shelf. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Clearly I have a lot of books. No worries because I’ll be trying to read this one at some point in the year over a month or two. It falls into that big book category 500+ pages. You know I’m reading one of those a month and I’m reading one short story collection a month too. So this kills 2 birds with one stone. I can’t just stop there. I have to talk about this watch bookmark called Clock Artmark from @bookartbookmarks which actually works. Love it!❤️ So if you’re interested in one you can go to their website bookartbookmarks.com to purchase it and so many beautiful other bookmarks.

 

Day 11: Four in a Row

I can’t wait to see what everyone posts today because you can post so many different ways on 4 in a row. I’ve decided to Spotlight one of my favorite series and that’s Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series. These are the first 4 books of the series and I need to continue on by getting to book 5, A Little Yellow Dog. This series is so suspenseful and full of larger than life characters but most of all it features a protagonist black man who solves mysteries/crime beginning in the mid forties. The best thing is that time advances with each novel. This series currently contains 15 books. Book #15 is called Blood Grove and was released this month February 2, 2021.

 

Day 12: Kids Corner

Today is another moment to spotlight excellent black stories for our children. I’ve spoken about The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis before, but I couldn’t resist mentioning it again. It’s a wonderful novel crafted with a very touching and informative story of the difficulties of a black family to survive during the Depression. Full of emotional twists and turns, you won’t be able to forget The Mighty Miss Malone. And this cover is everything! I actually pull it out regularly just to admire it.😍

 

Day 13: Real Life Heroes

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro was first published in 1957 by Joel Augustus Rogers. It’s original title was “A Negro ‘Believe It or Not’”. Rogers was delivering pride and enlightenment with this book. « You could say Rogers was African-Americans’ first black history teacher. » The excitement and pride Black people must have felt reading the wonders of this book and during Jim Crow. It surely helped keep hope alive. Not to mention, Henry Louis Gates is definitely reminding Americans everyday how much Black History is American history.
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If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate links for Blackwell’s or The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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Read Soul Lit Photo Challenge Day 6 and Day 7

 

 

Day 6: Plant and a BookI will always mention Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May when some ask for recommendations of Black American authors. This book is so damn underrated! I hope one day Eric Charles May decides to release another book. I’d be the first one to purchase it.Bedrock faith has everything that makes a great novel – larger than life characters, good writing, suspense, and a complex plot.
What’s it about?

“After fourteen years in prison, Gerald “Stew Pot” Reeves, age thirty-one, returns home to live with his mom in Parkland, a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. A frightening delinquent before being sent away (his infamies included butchering a neighbor’s cat, torching another neighbor’s garage, and terrorizing the locals with a scary pit bull named Hitler), his return sends Parkland residents into a religiously infused tailspin, which only increases when Stew Pot announces that he experienced a religious awakening in prison. Most neighbors are skeptical of this claim, with one notable exception: Mrs. Motley, a widowed retiree and the Reeves’s next-door neighbor who loans Stew Pot a Bible, which is seen by Stew Pot and many in the community as a friendly gesture.
With uncompromising fervor (and with a new pit bull named John the Baptist), Stew Pot appoints himself the moral judge of Parkland.”(Bedrock Faith, cover description)

 

Day 7: Next Read
Well I’m back to serial reading since I’m reading a huge doorstop. I don’t mind because I’m enjoying everything. The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison is a treasure trove of info on life back in the day and on writing, life, attitudes, and creativity. I’m enjoying reading about his friendship with Richard Wright and others. I started Bebe Moore Campbell’s What You Owe Me and I’m intrigued for the moment. This is an oldie but I have high hopes for it. Last but not least I’ll be picking up Song of Solomon for the second time in eons. So I’ve got my work cut out for me this week but so far so good…. What are you reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate links for Blackwell’s or The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

Blackwell’s Affiliate (Independent Bookstore/ Free Delivery)

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Read Soul Lit Photo Challenge – Day 1: #ReadSoulLit TBR

 

Better late than never! I’m finally back at the beginning of this new year with the Read Soul Lit Photo Challenge.  I’ve linked the photo challenge here so that you can follow along. I promise to be back with at least one post a week but this month I’ll be here everyday with my photo pic from the Read Soul Lit Photo Challenge in honor of Black American writers for Black History Month 2021 that I’m hosting over on Instagram.I’ll be doing weekly videos on YouTube as well covering what I’ve photographed for the challenge.

 

As for my TBR, I’ve chosen quite the big stack this month because I truly do want to get through all of these great books and more if possible. I’ll be laying off the extra Netflix watching, besides when I watch when I’m having lunch or dinner. I’m also going to try to read everyday this month. I didn’t do that last month. There were 11 whole days when I didn’t read a thing and that’s why I didn’t finish one of my books last month. Totally unacceptable if I want to get through 8+ books this month.

So what have I decided on reading:

Firstly I’ll be reading A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huff. It’s a fictionalized retelling of the meeting and life of her great great grandparents. This is the book I’ve chosen for the Read Soul Lit Readalong for this month. If you’re interested in joining you can purchase the book through The Book Depository and you can join the Goodreads group where month long discussions will be happening. The group is called A More Perfect Union Read Soul Lit February Readalong 2021

The 2 biggest books I’m reading this month are What You Owe Me by Bebe Campbell (533 pages)  and The Selected Letter of Ralph Ellison (1,002 pages). I so hope I can manage to finish these two.

The Read Soul Lit Book Club on Patreon, we will be reading Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. It will be my second time picking it up in a very long time, since college. I’m wondering what my thoughts will be. More on that as it happens….. If you’re interested in joining the Patreon book club you can click here.

Since I’m trying to read one short story collection a month I’ve decided on The Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley. An oldie by the great Leonard Pitts, Jr., Grant Park. It is a story of race relations in the United States set between two eras 2008 and 1968. And last but not least two new releases: The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.  It’s a story set in the Deep South on a plantation that explores a relationship between two men. The other book is called Yellow Wife and it is also a slave narrative that follows slave Pheby Delores who has been promised to be set free on her eighteenth birthday.

Come back tomorrow for Days 2 and 3 of the photo challenge.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate links for Blackwell’s or The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you, I really appreciate it!

Blackwell’s Affiliate (Independent Bookstore/ Free Delivery)

https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

The Book Depository

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

My Merch Shop

The Brown Girl Reading  March shop has Read Soul Lit mugs and tote bags! Get into the mood with a great book and a Read Soul Lit mug with your fave hot drink.

 

The Last Thing You Surrender – Leonard Pitts, Jr. Live Discussion

This was a great discussion to end Black History Month.  We were also blessed to have Leonard Pitts, Jr for the second half of the discussion.  He’s really brilliant! This live discussion contains spoilers so if you haven’t finished reading you might want to wait until you do. Enjoy!

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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Overview: My reading in 2019

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Quote:  “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…. The man who never reads only lives one.” 

                                                                                                  – George R.R. Martin

2020 has rolled in with a bang and I hope it’s going to be a good one and an excellent start to a new decade.  I thought I’d take this time to reflect over my year of reading.  That’s the best way to get rid of what isn’t working and to introduce some new things to refresh.  For starters, my reading last year could best be described as “catch up reading”.  I was doing fine last year until I fell down the stairs and broke my malleolus bone in June. That’s when everything went to pot.  I wasn’t reading and nor was I journaling.  My broken ankle took up all of my energy.

However, I did get through a few audiobooks, Queenie ♥ and On the Come Up ♥♥♥♥♥ and a quarter of A Book of American Martys which I hope to be rereading and finishing at some point this year.  Once I could go back to work in September, that’s when things became hectic.  Rescheduling and planning classes became the highlight of my day.  It took a few weeks to get used to my schedule alongside physical therapy visits twice a week.

In October and November, I spearheaded a read along of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.  What a pleasure that was!  This was a fantastic read that I highly recommend and that I will surely reread one day.  My Penguin Clothbound edition comes in at 1,276 pages, making it the longest book I read this year.  November announced Nonfiction November, which is when I try to read at least 3 nonfiction novels.  That was a fail, I only read one but an excellent one, The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ by Marita Golden.  At the end of November I had the honor of attending a joint literary event in Paris with La Cene Littéraire and Book and Brunch.  The event was in honor of Elanthan John winning Le Prix les Afriques for Born on a Tuesday.  I was there to help with translation and it was a wonderful time.  Elnathan John was very interesting and gave us all food for thought
on discussing why he writes in English among other topics.

From there the 3rd of December was the book launch of the anthology,  Where We Started:  Stories of Living Between Worlds edited by Alecia McKenzie and Anna-MariaBamberger, where you can find my first published short story called Sanctuary.IMG_1782  We were five writers present at The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore in the 6th arrondisement of Paris and four reading an excerpt from our short stories.  That was aproud moment for me.  If you’re interested in reading this short story collection you can click here to purchase an ebook.  From there December finished fairly quickly.  Here’s where the catch up reading took place, from December 21 – December 28th, I found myself reading 6 books to finish the year.  I had to take advantage that I could lie around reading most of the day.  It was cold and there was no wifi so what’s left to do but read because French tv sucks!  So I finished my year with Before We Were Yours ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ which really surprised me. I was sure I wouldn’t like it and I actually found it really quite good.  I then went on to The Girl with the Hazel Eyes ♥ ♥ ♥ ∨, debut Caribbean writer, The Nickel Boys ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, Red at the Bone ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, In West Mill  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, and finally Happy Parents ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (a much needed comic by Zep).  I couldn’t have ended my year of reading on a better note.

My reading stats according to Goodreads:

The Longest Book:

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

The Shortest Book:

Princess Arabella is a Big SisterMylo Freeman

Average length:

273 pages (This number needs to be higher!)

My average rating:

3.7 stars

Highest rated book I read on Goodreads:

Dear ancestors: Poems and Reflections on the African Diaspora ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Books read: (Pledged to read 50):

59

Pages Read: (This number needs to be higher too!)

16,113

So what’s the plan for my reading in 2020?  Well I’m trying to keep things simple and tie up loose ends.

  1.  Read books on my shelves!
  2.  Read #backlistbooksbliss ♥
  3. Finish up series if possible
  4. Finish up fiction books from Toni Morisson – Love and Paradise and reread Sula, Roxane Gay – An Untamed State, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie – Purple Hibiscus and The thing Around Your Neck
  5. Read 100 books! This one is going to be quite the challenge. I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I figure I need the push to see if I can do it.  If I don’t oh well. I’ll try again next year.
  6. Continue reading Caribbean Lit

What are your reading plans for 2020?

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!  Thank you for supporting the blog! 🙂

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 16

baublesToday’s recommendation I discovered in the spring of 2015.  Water Street was one of the first few short story collections I had read in a long time that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Fourteen connected  short stories set in Stanford, Kentucky in the black community.  I was amazed  to see how well Wilkinson linked each character and unveiled their secrets.  Water Street has that southern literary flair that I love to read.  The style of writing is through short narratives and monologues.  You’re probably thinking that this makes the short stories feel unfinished but in fact they are full of impressions and feelings that are familiar.

Crystal Wilkinson is a wonderful writer who develops her stories through her characters.  She doesn’t need an excess of pages to make the reader understand something.  I envy her capacity to shape the story with the minimum means.  It’s a gift in writing.  I strongly urge you to check out this author who should be praised more.  I also recommend three of her other works that I enjoyed just as much as Water Street, Blackberries, Blackberries (short story collection), The Birds of Opulence (short water streetnovel), and Holler (short story).

I recommend Water Street to readers who enjoy short story collections, African-American literature, and southern literature.  Check out Wilkinson in the video below talking about her writing and where her inspiration comes from.  She has quite the personality and you should follow her over on Instagram at crystalwilki.

 

Overview:

On Water Street, every person has at least two stories to tell. One story that the light of day shines on and the other that lives only in the pitch black of night, the kind of story that a person carries beneath their breastbones for safekeeping. WATER STREET examines the secret lives of neighbours and friends who live on Water Street in a small town in Kentucky. Assured and intimate, dealing with love, loss, truth and tragedy, Wilkinson weaves us in and out of the lives of Water Street’s inhabitants.

 

 

Water Street – Crystal Wilkinson

Publisher:  Toby Press

Pages:  179

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 11

baublesThe first James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room and I really enjoyed it. I marveled over his ability to write a novel with so many layered themes. I also was wondering why it had taken me so long to finally read one of his novels.

I notice that this is often the first novel that readers online seem to flock to by Baldwin and then they don’t pick anything else up by him and if they do they’ll read The Fire Next Time but not any of his other novels.  So my recommendation today is Another Country.  This is hands down my favorite Baldwin novel so far.  It is a must read.  However, I haven’t got to Just Above My Head yet, but it’s on my 2020 TBR list.

Another Country is a story that is beautifully written and full of complexity.  It’s starts innocently but slowly the story confronts the reader with the difficulties for blacks and whites to coexist.  The themes of white liberalism and sexual freedom are both prevalent subjects as well today.  Another Country will make readers contemplate current and past US race relations.  You’ll definitely want to speak to someone about it once you’re done.  It would be great for a book club discussion.  I recommend Another Country to readers who enjoy Baldwin’s writing, like reading books with heavy themes on race relations in the US, and enjoy reading books set in 1950s New York.  Check out my review video below.

Overview:

“Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country isanother country a novel of passions–sexual, racial, political, artistic–that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime. In a small set of friends, Baldwin imbues the best and worst intentions of liberal America in the early 1970s.” (Another Country, back cover)

 

 

Another Country – James Baldwin

Publisher:  Penguin Classics

Pages:  448

My rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 8

baublesStarting our second week already and I’ll be talking about another one of my favorite books that I rave about all the time and that’s Jam on the Vine.  Jam on the Vine is LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s 2015 debut novel.  This is another novel that literally flew right under the radar at its release.  People I don’t understand why!  This book has everything that could interest avid readers like us.

Walking in the footsteps of storytellers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Barnett’s writing is rich and full of life.  She isn’t just telling us a story; she’s bringing us along with her characters.  This passionate story follows the lives of two African-American women journalists at the beginning of the twentieth century and of the existence of African-American newspapers.  I was immediately wrapped up in the how and what of black American newspapers and its importance at this time period.  Barnett doesn’t just woo us with a good story, she gives us information about this traumatic period in America of Jim Crow and depicts the importance and difficulty for blacks to be journalists and to print newspapers.  Jam on the Vine made me want to read The Defender How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America by Ethan Michaeli.  I haven’t read it yetjam but it’s definitely on my nonfiction must reads list, even though it’s a little over 500 pages.  It will be a challenging read but one of necessity to know more about black American history.

I recommend this book to readers who appreciate excellent writing, a bit of sensuality, great food descriptions, historical fiction novels, interesting characters, and stories set in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Overview:

“Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown’s racially-biased employers.” (Jam on the Vine, inside flap)

 

 

Jam on the Vine – La Shonda Katrice Barnett

Publisher:  Grove Press

Pages:  316

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 6

baublesToday’s recommendation for 24 Books to Christmas is The Healing by Jonathan Odell.  I first became acquainted with this book on Denise’s YouTube channel ArtBooksLife. My curiosity was immediately peaked when I heard her talking about it. I couldn’t resist. I immediately purchased it but didn’t get around to reading it until 2016. I had the pleasure of buddy reading it with another Booktuber, Pretty Brown Eye Reader.  We had an excellent time discussing the story and marveled at the complexity and originality that is found in it.

The Healing is a slave narrative set in the back drop of Pre-Civil War South. It’s a story not at all like most we are used to reading in this genre.  From character development to story pacing to themes , Odell took the time to make sure this story was written in the most authentic way possible. In his Notes to the Reader Odell said, “Through writing The Healing and by stitching together my own family history, I have discovered the truth in the old saying “Facts can explain us, but only story will save us.”  Granada alias Gran Gran and Polly Shine are the best characters in the book.  You’ll surely find Polly Shine the healingintriguing and charismatic.  Both of these characters are unforgettable.

Overview:

“Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.” (The Healing, cover flap)

I recommend The Healing to readers who appreciate slave narratives and to readers who don’t like slave narratives because they feel they are repetitive and never bring anything new to the table.  This would also make a great Christmas gift to those who might enjoy a book that they probably haven’t heard of, since this book was virtually not talked about enough when it came out.  Check out the video below of Jonathan Odell talking about race. It’s an excellent video to understand better Odell’s background and why he writes what he writes.

 

 

The Healing – Jonathan Odell

Publisher:  Nan A.Talese/Doubleday

Pages:  330

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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24 Books to Christmas: Day 1

baublesI know it’s been a while since I’ve been on here but my life took quite the turn mid-June and through me off the track of a lot of the things I had planned to do, in particular here on the blog. So let’s get on to the positive. What is 24 books to Christmas? 24 Books to Christmas is my chance to introduce you to 24 books I think you’d like and that you could even give as a gift for Christmas or any other celebratory moment.  So let’s get started with the first book:

Born on a Tuesday is going to be the first book I’m recommend.  I had the pleasure of rereading it last week to participate in a literary event that took place on Saturday in Paris hosted by Book and Brunch Paris and La Cene Littéraiare.  Elnathan John, winner of Le Prix les Afriques, was there answering our questions and speaking passionately about Born on a Tuesday, Be(com)ing Nigerian, and on the importance of black authors telling their own stories.

Born on a Tuesday is a coming-of-age story of Ahmad alias Dantala.  The story begins with Dantala hanging with a gang of street boys in Bayan Layi.  We continue to follow is growth as he changes while Islamic fundamentalism is growing in the very mosque that is his home.  this story is perfectly written in an endearing first person and Elnathan John leaves no stone unturned concerning the character development and storyline.

I recommend this one for lovers of Nigerian literature, coming-of-age stories, and stories img_1643that delve into culture and religion.  The book does contain some sexual content and violence neither of which are gratuitous.  I’d say it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and in 2017 when I read it the first time.

Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John

Publisher: Cassava Republic

Pages: 261

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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