Welcome to our little space on the internet, dedicated to the books that we read; the authors who pen them; how we feel about storylines, plots and writing styles; and how certain novels affect us. Our intention is to facilitate dialogue about literature and the role it plays in our lives.
My name is Nakia, but I go by sugaHoney in the blogging world. This blog project started from a conversation that I had with Alex, from coloredboy.net, about our current reading lists. In expressing our desire to chronicle how we feel about the books that we read, we both thought that collaborating on a blog would be a great idea. We then thought of other bloggers and friends we know through the web who also love to read, and write. So we asked Malca, who never seems to be without book in hand; Alise, voracious reader and the blogger/poet behind naturallyalise.com/blog; and Shydel, another lover of the written word and the man behind he urbaneurbanite.com.
Here we are, five bloggers ready to share our opinions, willing to let you know why we continuously turn the page, or quickly close the book. We’ll be sharing whatever books come across out paths, but we’ll also each have a specific niche or genres of literature on which we will focus.
Since I’m up first, allow me to delve into my love affair with the written word:
My mother always attributed my love of books to her consistently reading while she was pregnant with me. I started reading almost before I could talk in complete sentences. Books were the best gifts and the library was one of my favorite places. I was one of those kids who always signed up for reading programs and consistently ordered books through Scholastics. The fact that I was an only child definitely helped to foster this desire to read non stop. How else would I entertain myself when my friends weren’t available?
When I was twelve, I stumbled into the world of black literature after hearing people raving over Terry McMillan’s, Waiting to Exhale*. I remember seeing Kim walking around with it on Hillman’s campus on “A Different World”, which became my cue to ask my mom if I could read her copy. That one step opened my world right on up. Where there had once only been Madeline, James & the Giant Peach, The Babysitters Club, Ralph and the Motorcycle, and Ramona, there were now stories that reminded me of my mom and aunts, their friends, the women at church, the women in my neighborhood, the people at my school. There were books about contemporary people who looked like me! I fell in love with Terry McMillan, and eventually moved on to Toni Morrison, Bebe Moore Campbell, Tina McElroy Ansa, Gloria Naylor, Pearl Cleage, J. California Cooper, Tananarive Due, and Dianne McKinney-Whetsone.
It didn’t stop with just Black women authors, though. Walter Moseley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, Ernest Gaines’ A Gathering of Old Men, Stephen L. Carter’s The Emperor of Ocean Park , and Junot Diaz’ Drown, all won me over for life.
I eventually began looking for those who wrote of the Black experience outside of the U.S. This brought me in contact with favorites like The Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia, 26A by Diana Evans, Unburnable by Marie-Elena John, and two of my absolute favorites, Fruit of the Lemon and Small Island by Andrea Levy.
As I matured, I realized that I needed to step out of the box of just reading books by Black/African writers. I started with The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, followed by The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and so and so forth. In doing so, I recognized how reading is more about how seamlessly the writer can share stories of the human experience and condition, and less about if I can identify culturally with the characters.
So I plan to be all over the place with my reviews and recommendations. I love Black authors, but overall, I love good writing. I’ll share my personal picks, along with selections that my book club, BookTini, will be reading, but my specific niche will be older books that have been in print for at least 15 years or more. Think Dorothy West, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Cade Bombara. I’ll also try to focus on books with settings in foreign lands: the West Indies, Europe, Africa, Asia, South America (I cant wait to delve into The Unaccustomed Earth, Powder Necklace, Dog War, and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives) .
Stay tuned for introductions to our other contributors throughout the rest of this week. I definitely hope you enjoy what we have to share.
We’re here to inspire you to turn the page.