Books

8 Books For Your Summer Reading List…And Your Soul

Whether you will be inhaling the fresh scent of the ocean from the sand of a beautiful beach or simply enjoying nature from a hotel balcony or your own patio, the following books are sure to feed your mind and soul and keep you on the edge of your seat this summer.

Whether you will be inhaling the fresh scent of the ocean from the sand of a beautiful beach or simply enjoying nature from a hotel balcony or your own patio, the following books are sure to feed your mind and soul and keep you on the edge of your seat this summer.

  1. Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha).

The Children of Blood and Bone is influenced by Adeyemi’s West African heritage, and in it she bends religious deities (the Orïsha) and a diverse landscape into a refreshing new take on fantasy. The Children of Blood and Bone is told from multiple points of view, as Inan and Amari, children of the iron-fisted king, and Zélie and Tzain, siblings who have suffered greatly under the king’s regime, find themselves on a dark, magic-filled quest for power. Their journey is accompanied by violence and betrayal, but friendship and even star-crossed love also play a part. Enriched with themes that resonate in today’s social and political landscapeThe Children of Blood and Bone takes on injustice, discrimination, and a struggle for change.

2. An American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club 2018 Selection) 

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.

Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward–with hope and pain–into the future.

3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.  Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

4. Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies by Dick Gregory

With his trademark acerbic wit, incisive humor, and infectious paranoia, one of our foremost comedians and most politically engaged civil rights activists looks back at 100 key events from the complicated history of black America.A friend of luminaries including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers, and the forebear of today’s popular black comics, including Larry Wilmore, W. Kamau Bell, Damon Young, and Trevor Noah, Dick Gregory was a provocative and incisive cultural force for more than fifty years. As an entertainer, he always kept it indisputably real about race issues in America, fearlessly lacing laughter with hard truths. As a leading activist against injustice, he marched at Selma during the Civil Rights movement, organized student rallies to protest the Vietnam War; sat in at rallies for Native American and feminist rights; fought apartheid in South Africa; and participated in hunger strikes in support of Black Lives Matter.

In this collection of thoughtful, provocative essays, Gregory charts the complex and often obscured history of the African American experience. In his unapologetically candid voice, he moves from African ancestry and surviving the Middle Passage to the creation of the Jheri Curl, the enjoyment of bacon and everything pig, the headline-making shootings of black men, and the Black Lives Matter movement. A captivating journey through time, Defining Moments in Black History explores historical movements such as The Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, as well as cultural touchstones such as Sidney Poitier winning the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies in the Field and Billie Holiday releasing Strange Fruit.

An engaging look at black life that offers insightful commentary on the intricate history of the African American people, Defining Moments in Black History is an essential, no-holds-bar history lesson that will provoke, enlighten, and entertain.

5. A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown

You have before you the strange, heart-wrenching, and exhilarating tale of a woman named Cupcake. It begins as the story of a girl orphaned twice over, once by the death of her mother and then again by a child welfare system that separated her from her stepfather and put her into the hands of an epically sadistic foster parent. But there comes a point in her preteen years—maybe it’s the night she first tries to run away and is exposed to drugs, alcohol, and sex all at once—when Cupcake’s story shifts from a tear-jerking tragedy to a dark comic blues opera. As Cupcake’s troubles grow, so do her voice and spirit. Her gut-punch sense of humor and eye for the absurd, along with her outsized will, carry her through a fateful series of events that could easily have left her dead.

Young Cupcake learned to survive by turning tricks, downing hard liquor, partying like a rock star, and ingesting every drug she could find while hitchhiking up and down the California coast. She stumbled into gang banging, drug dealing, hustling, prostitution, theft, and, eventually, the best scam of all: a series of 9-to-5 jobs. But Cupcake’s unlikely tour through the cubicle world was paralleled by a quickening descent into the nightmare of crack cocaine use, till she eventually found herself living behind a Dumpster. Astonishingly, she turned it around. With the help of a cobbled together family of eccentric fellow addicts and “angels”—a series of friends and strangers who came to her aid at pivotal moments—she slowly transformed her life from the inside out.A Piece of Cake is unlike any memoir you’ll ever read. Moving and almost transgressive in its frankness, it is a relentlessly gripping tale of a resilient spirit who took on the worst of contemporary urban life and survived it with a furious wit and unyielding determination. Cupcake Brown is a dynamic and utterly original storyteller who will guide you on the most satisfying, startlingly funny, and genuinely affecting tour through hell you’ll ever take.

6. The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients by Dr. Irvin D. Yalom

The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom’s more than thirty-five years in clinical practice, The Gift of Therapy is a remarkable and essential guidebook that illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. The bestselling author of Love’s Executioner shares his uniquely fresh approach and the valuable insights he has gained—presented as eighty-five personal and provocative “tips for beginner therapists,” including:

•Let the patient matter to you

•Acknowledge your errors

•Create a new therapy for each patient

•Do home visits

•(Almost) never make decisions for the patient

•Freud was not always wrong

A book aimed at enriching the therapeutic process for a new generation of patients and counselors, Yalom’s Gift of Therapy is an entertaining, informative, and insightful read for anyone with an interest in the subject.

7. Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died: Coping with Loss Every Day by Ty Alexander and Tia Williams

The grieving process: Ty Alexander of Gorgeous in Grey is one of the top bloggers today. She has a tremendous personal connection with her readers. This is never more apparent than when she speaks about her mother. The pain of loss is universal. Yet, we all grieve differently. For Alexander, the grieving process is one that she lives with day-to-day. Learning from her pain, Alexander connects with her readers on a deeply emotional level in her debut book. From grief counseling to sharing insightful true stories, Alexander offers comfort, reassurance, and hope in the face of sorrow.

Coping with loss: In her early 20’s reality smacked Ty in the face. She was ill equipped to deal with the emotional and intellectual rollercoaster of dealing with her mom’s illness. Through her own trial and error, she found a way to be a caregiver, patient advocate, researcher, and a grieving daughter. She wrote Things I Wish I Knew before My Mom Died: Coping with Loss Every Day to help others find the “best” way to cope and move on, however one personally decides what that means.

Mourning and remembrance: In the chapters of this soul-touching book, mourners will find meaning and wisdom in grieving and the love that will always remain. Each chapter is a study and lesson in coping with loss:

Chapter 1: We’ve been duped, everyone dies!

Chapter 2: The truth about my moderately dysfunctional family

Chapter 3: The Art Of Losing

Chapter 4: The how of grieving

Chapter 5: How to be obsessively grateful

Chapter 6: Dear Mama

8. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.

Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.

Happy Reading!

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