Recreational reading is an important part of maintaining a well-rounded and balanced life. It can help you relax, make you a better writer and give you more depth and breadth to your personal conversations with your friends. There are many reasons that reading is good for you, which we'll cover in this section.
There are many benefits to reading books, especially if they're by Black authors. They can:
My reading journey was jumpstarted in corporate America after joining a book club whose primary focus was books by Black authors. Stunned by the new knowledge I was exposed to about Black history, I ravenously devoured all I could in that category. Little did I know that fiction would expand that knowledge base even further with applications and future speculations. Good fiction can make you more empathetic by putting us into the shoes of other people and allow us to experience the world through their eyes. This makes us more understanding and tolerant of others' views and backgrounds than we might have been otherwise, according to research cited by Psychology Today.
Reading for recreation or informative purposes outside of the classroom also makes you more creative. Some authors come up with their genius ideas by reading other novelists' work. Inspiration comes from many places, and creative works inspire new worlds brought to life by well stoked imagination.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is a groundbreaking novel first published in 1952 by Ralph Ellison. It follows the story of an unnamed African-American protagonist who goes on a journey of self-discovery while facing oppression, humiliation and racism. The narrator often refers to himself as invisible because he feels that other people are unable to see his true identity, personality or potential.
Upon its release, critics overwhelmingly praised the novel for its powerful prose style and symbolic insight. In 1953, Ellison won the National Book Award for Fiction for his debut novel, which was also named by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.
On my personal timeline, this book will forever be remembered as the very first that turned on the culturally focused lights in my mind. Prior to cracking it open, my technical training in Electrical Engineering was culturally sterile. Read more about my personal journey in a previous post "Why Celebrate Black History Month" in the section, "Why Celebrate Black History Month." It along with a few other stunning literary gemstones changed my career path completely. Months later I quit my job and started Afriware Books, Co.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Some books are just a big deal. Half of a Yellow Sun is one of those books. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was catapulted into a wave of social media tweets and posts surrounding Beyonce's "Flawless" video when she featured a segment of a speech Adichie gave. She has been hailed by The Times Literary Supplement as a prominent critically acclaimed author that has successfully attracted a new generation of readers to African literature. From the Oxford Bibliography last updated in 2017, "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a prominent and award-winning Igbo Nigerian female writer who currently resides either in her hometown of Nsukka, Nigeria, or the United States. She writes across genres in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting and has even been featured in discography. Her major works include the novels Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun."
Half of a Yellow Sun is the story of two sisters and the men in their lives—and the impact that war has on everyone's relationships. After all, does anyone really know how much they love someone until after they've gone through hell and back together? This book won the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was listed as one of The New York Times' ten best books of 2007. It also made Oprah's Book Club 2.0 list in 2010.
This isn't an easy read, but it's well worth your time if you're looking for something intense and may provide insight into other wars raging around the world. Make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand before beginning this book because even if you think you're not going to cry, trust me: You will cry.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart is a classic African novel written by Chinua Achebe. The book tells the story of a Nigerian tribe and it was the first novel published by an African author in English. Things Fall Apart follows the story of Okonkwo, an influential member of the Umuofia Clan, and his struggle to adapt to life after British colonial government arrives in Africa and destroys their culture. In addition to being a good read, Things Fall Apart is important for readers to read because it teaches about how British colonization destroyed many societies in Africa and decimated their culture. Because Western education has been dominated by European history, many people are unaware that this happened and should be made aware, which is why I think this book should be required reading in high school.
The book was banned in Nigeria due to its criticism of colonialism but went on to become one of the best selling books in Nigerian history.
The Black Book by Toni Morrison
This text is a collection of African American literature, art pieces, and folklore. It also features handwritten notes from author Toni Morrison. At the publication party in 1974, guests received copies as a take-home gift. A limited edition of The Black Book was published in 2018 at the release of a deluxe edition by Soho Press and Pace Editions.
You may be surprised to find that the author of "The Bluest Eye," "Song of Solomon," and "Beloved" actually has a book titled “The Black Book." It's an important title for a collection of writings about civil rights, family history, and black people's relationship to America. Toni Morrison was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but she saw racism as one of three great evils in U.S. society along with sexism and capitalism. The other two greats were not addressed by this collection so much as their effects on black life throughout history - namely slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation under apartheid-like systems (both formal/legalized as well as informal) as well as racial tensions that exist today still resulting from these factors (e.g., black-on-black crime).
The Black Book is one of my favorite's of all time. Read more about it in a previous post called "Books Every Black Person Should Read."
From Superman to Man by. J. A. Rogers
It’s one of the first books that comprehensively catalogs and explores historically significant figures, events, and achievements in black history by capturing the dialogue between a Black porter and a racist white train passenger. The sharp wit and historical prowess is extremely satifying to seeminly witness in the shrewd banter between the two. According to an online source, Marcus Garvey made it required reading for those enrolled in his Constitution and By-Laws of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.
Rogers travelled the world to research his book, which was originally published in 1930 and is formatted as an encyclopedia. Entries range from black politicians and inventors to sports stars and more.
This book is a must-read for anyone looking to brush up on their knowledge of the role black people have played on a global scale throughout history.
As always, I appreciate that you have read through this blog post. I hope that you’ve become curious to find out more about some great reads by Black authors. We ask that you consider purchasing your books from our Black owned business, Afriware Books, Co. If there is a title you’d like to purchase that is not mentioned here, or could not be found on the website, feel free to email us at: email@example.com