You were spring-cleaning your wallet the other day and found the bookstore gift certificate you got last Christmas. What do you do? Go to the bookstore and shop. Here are some suggestions:
If you’re a novel lover and you love westerns, try The Brave by Nicholas Evans (who wrote The Horse Whisperer). This is the story of a cowboy whose past comes back to haunt him when his son is charged with murder. Also look for Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West, which like The Brave is set in Montana, and tells the story of a man who is hiding from his past and the basketball team that changes his life.
Historical novel lovers will want to look for The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. That’s the story of a former slave woman who decides to pen her memoirs, starting with her life in an African village and what happens to her on her journey back. This is one of those books you won’t be able to put down.
It’s Women’s History Month and Connie Briscoe’s last novel, Sisters & Husbands is now in paperback. It’s a story about a woman who can’t seem to settle down, particularly since she’s seen her sister’s marriages flounder. Another paperback novel to look for is These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf, a book about a woman who wants to put her past behind her and re-connect with her sister after a prison term for a crime that happened long ago. But the past can’t always be hidden. And don’t miss Color Me Butterfly by L.Y. Marlow, a novel based on a true story of four generations of mothers and daughters, also in paperback. If you’ve got a daughter (or if you are one), look for You’re Grounded Forever… but First, Let’s Go Shopping by Susan Shapiro Barash, a book that discusses the age-old mother / daughter battles and what can be done to stop them.
If you’re looking for something completely different to read, try Blood Contract by Biola Olatunde, which is set in the Niger Delta. It’s the story of a man who tried to escape his past by leaving his village, until that very past pulls him back. The Savion Sequence by D. Amari Jackson is a little new age, a little fantasy, and a little mystery, set partially in the Sahara and partially in North Carolina. And The Abominable Gayman by Johnny Townsend is a novel about a gay Mormon who’s doing his two-year missionary work in Italy, his “torment” and the things he faces while so far away from home.
If you’re looking to buy a house this year, don’t shop before you read Before You Buy! by Michael Corbett. This book takes you from dreaming of home ownership to painting your new bedroom and everything in between, and it even addresses your “freaking out” moments. If this is your year to own a home, what better way to use that gift certificate?
For the artist in you, grab You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler, which is a cool book that will unleash your creativity, even if you think you can barely hold a pencil.
If there are challenges in your family, look for Not Quite Adults by Richard Settersten Ph.D. & Barbara E. Ray. That’s a book to help you understand why your post-teen is still a kid (to you) and why it’s a good thing. For a different kind of challenge, you’ll want to read Siblings and Autism, edited by Debra L. Cumberland and Bruce E. Mills, an anthology of true stories from people who have brothers or sisters with the autism spectrum.
If you’re looking for outrage, Yellow Dirt by Judy Pasternak is your book. It’s a chilling historical account of nuclear development and what happened when the government knowingly contaminated an entire tribe of Native Americans. Another outraging book is American Plastic by Laurie Essig. How does our love of plastic money affect our plastic lives?
If you crave a good crime story, try BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family by Mara Shalhoup. Set in Detroit, that’s the true story of organized crime, power, drugs, and greed, and how the empire was brought down by a team of dedicated investigators.
For the gardener who’s tired of putting the same old thing in the ground, look for Bizarre Botanicals by Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross, which will give you dozens of cool ideas for the garden and for that landscaping project you’ve been thinking about.
For the budding writer who can’t seem to get started on that new novel, look for Mastering Creative Anxiety by Eric Maisel. This book, which is useful for anyone who needs creativity, can boost your brain and get you to the next level on your book, your artwork, your screenplay, song, or skit. I also really loved The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing, edited by Marita Golden. This book, filled with interviews of authors such as Pearl Cleage and Edwidge Danticat, will also get you motivated to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
For the trivia fan, look for complete fun in The Celebrated Pedestrian and Other Historical Curiosities: A Miscellany from BBC History Museum. It’s a book about quirks and oddities throughout history and throughout the world, and it’s a browser’s delight. Also look for Campbell’s Weather Compendium by Harry Campbell, which is a book for gardeners, cooks, trivia buffs, and weather fans alike.
To make you laugh, look for Daily Scoldings by Beryl Barclay. That’s a book filled with advice and quick wit, and it’s quick to read, too.
If you want a business book to read, look for Now… Build a Great Business! by Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy. This book will teach you how to take your business to the next level to maximize profits and grow. Bonus: it includes website information. Also look for Black Business Secrets by Dante Lee. That’s another entrepreneurial book, but this one is specifically for African Americans who want to make a better business.
For the pet-lover in you, look for Mad About the Dog by Belinda Harley. At just 90 pages, this quick-to-read book is just the ticket to tuck into purse or briefcase because it’s so brief. Also try Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog. This interesting, lively book explains, among other things, why WE view animals differently and why most people prefer a pup of the canine sort and not of the rodent kind.
And if you’re heading on vacation this year, check the bookstore for Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know by Kate Boehm Jerome. This is a series of books, each focusing on a specific city, its history, sites, and trivia, includes pictures and plenty of information for the young vacationer. Cincinnati, Orlando, Dallas, Tampa, Atlanta, Houston, Buffalo, and Charleston are available now, with more books slated for release in the coming months.
Adventurous souls planning a vacation on wheels should grab Across America by Bicycle by Alice Honeywell and Bobbi Montgomery. That’s the story of two women who biked from Oregon to Maine one summer, the people they met, the sites they saw, the troubles they encountered, and the fun they had.