Season’s Readings: Gift Guide to African-American Authors

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BooksDid you ever notice how the holidays are all about OY?
Oy, as in JOY: a joyous season for family.
Oy, as in TOY: what the kids want from Santa.
Oy, as in OY, I don’t have my Christmas shopping done so now what am I going to do?
Yeah, and that last one is the toughie. So why not relax and head to the bookstore. Look for some of these gift ideas and wrap up a book….

What happens when you take two very different women and put them together in circumstances they wouldn’t normally ask for? You’ve got the novel Butterfly Rising by HBO star Tanya Wright. This beautiful novel features a little magic, and lots of dream-making. Wrap it up for your favorite dreamer this year. Also try Don’t Blame the Devil by Pat G’Orge-Walker.

If you’re looking for something unique for a gift, look for The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin. This novel is the story of a man who has three wives and a passel of children. When wife Number Three arrives, it upsets everything. This small novel would make a great stocking-stuffer, when added with a bookmark. For a bigger read, wrap up Full Circle by Ayana Ellis. It’s the story of a Brooklyn, N.Y., girl who gets involved with a gang of thugs but escapes The Life, only to dive into a life of easy money and violence with the man she loves. You won’t need a bookmark with this one; your giftee will race through this book.

Need a gift for your favorite guy? Then look for Family Ties by Ernest Hill. When a young man gets out of jail, he tries to reconnect with his mother but nothing goes right. His brother is on the lam, his mother is pointing fingers, and more.

Got a dreamer on your gift list? Show her that you believe in those dreams by wrapping up The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women by Elaine Meryl Brown, Marsha Haybood, and Rhonda Joy McLean. This easy-to-read book is filled with food for thought, “Mama-isms” and other great motivational words, and would also make a great gift for a recent or almost college graduate. For more inspiration, look for It Is Well With My Soul by Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson with Patricia Mulcahy. The sub-title, “The Extraordinary Life of a 105-Year-Old Woman” is all you need to know…

Your historian is going to enjoy unwrapping Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora by Henry Louis Gates Jr. This book, part history and part personal anecdote, takes a look at cultural studies from Britain to the U.S. to Africa. Also take a look at Race and Renaissance: African Americans in Pittsburgh since World War II by Joe W. Trotter and Jared N. Day. This hard-hitting, hard-history book is filled with stories, graphs, and lots of information, making it the perfect gift for a scholar.

My Darkest Hour: The Day I Realized I was Abusive by Harold L. Turley II is one of those books that you’re going to hate to give away – but in some cases, you know you’ll have to. Here, Turley comes to terms with the abuse that he endured, and he admits that he, himself, was an abuser. There’s advice in this book and more motivation to spur readers to get the help they need. This is an amazing memoir, but give it carefully… Also look for At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle L. McGuire, a story of “black women, rape, and resistance,” starting more than fifty years ago.

The historian on your gift list will definitely love unwrapping Our Black Fathers: Brave, Bold & Beautiful by Joslyn Gaines Vanderpool and Anita Royston. This book is filled with stories about and tributes to Black men, including athletes, writers, men who made a difference, and men who created traditions within countries and within individual homes. Wrap it up with Dare to Take Charge by Judge Glenda Hatchett, a book about a woman who makes a difference, and the stories she has to tell, or Say It Loud!, edited by Catherine Ellis and Stephen Drury Smith. That book is about great speeches on Civil Rights and more, and includes a MP3 CD.

And there you are. If you’re still struggling, ask your bookseller for ideas. That’s why she’s there and that’s why she makes the big bucks. For sure, she’ll have lots of ideas to bring you jOY, better than a tOY, and oy… your shopping is done.

Season’s Readings!