Categories
In Reading Color

New-ish Children’s, YA, and Adult Black History Books

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Okay, so I don’t know about you, but I’ve already started seeing the “not during Black History month, smh” tweets/social media comments and they are sending me. The response to something, anything, remotely negative surrounding Black people never fails to make an appearance during February, and it always tickles me when I come across it. Now, the times I’ve chuckled at this is when it’s said about something somewhat light-hearted. But even when it’s meant as a joke, I think it’s a great example of Black people’s ability to make anything into something funny.

I say anything because, as I’ve expressed in this newsletter before, heritage months are necessary to supplement a great deficit that exists in history curricula nationwide, but a lot of Black history focuses on trauma. This is understandable, as a lot of Black American history is trauma-filled, but it isn’t the only thing to learn and is certainly not the key takeaway.

The books I’ve included today either talk about lesser known topics in Black history, or about well-known topics in a new way, showing the struggle but also how we’ve been able to spin our circumstances into something positive.

cover of The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrate by Nikkolas Smith

This picture book is a companion of Nikole Hannah-Jones’s The 1619 Project, and tells the story of a little Black girl’s heritage through verse. It starts out with her in class, frustrated because she can not complete a school assignment where she has to trace her family history. Her grandmother tells her about her heritage, but starts in a flourishing West Africa that hasn’t yet been tainted by colonialism. What follows is the journey from an African home to American bondage, with many of the harsh details adapted to a younger audience. Four hundred years of Black American history is detailed, so it is condensed, but still worth a read, with an art style that is expressive and full of movement.

cover of Evicted!: The Struggle for the Right to Vote by Alice Faye Duncan

Evicted!: The Struggle for the Right to Vote by Alice Faye Duncan

I was surprised when I first heard about this book because I had never heard about Tennessee’s Fayette County Tent City Movement . And… I’m from Tennessee, smh, but here we are. This is another book that combines poetry, prose, and illustrations to tell the story of the late 1950s in West Tennessee from a kid’s perspective. In Fayette County, Jim Crow ruled, with segregation and voter discrimination in full effect. When Black landowners organized voter registration drives to help other Black people to vote, the effort was met with violence. White landowners evicted Black sharecroppers, forcing them to live in tents, and shop owners refused to sell them groceries and other vital items. This all led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which legally ended voting discrimination.

freedom book cover

Freedom!: The Story of the Black Panther Party by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom, and Waldo E Martin

This book is both a thoroughly researched and intimate account of the Black Panther Party from its inception in the late ’60s to its final offices being closed in the early ’80s. Iconic pictures of members and vital moments further flesh out the movement and show how the party was able to do things like provide free breakfast to thousands of school children, which FBI head J. Edgar Hoover tried to end by spreading the rumor to parents that the food would give their children STDs. The U.S. government would go on to establish a free breakfast program for kids that now feeds over 14 million students.

cover ofSouth to America by Imani Perry

South to America by Imani Perry

Ever since I moved to the Northeast as a native southerner, I’ve noticed how inaccurate the overall portrayal of the South is. Perry starts to set the record straight here in this book, which is equal parts memoir, history, and travel nonfiction. She addresses the nastiness of the South that is typically attributed to it (and for good reason), but also includes its beauty and how the U.S. as we know it today is rooted there. She journeys back home to Alabama to explore her ancestors, detouring to include artists, immigrants, and southerners from all walks of life. An interesting way, I think, that she describes the South is that it is “conservative in the sense of conservation.”

cover of A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington

The author of Medical Apartheid is back to once again educate and infuriate. Washington shows how the conversation around Black, Indigenous, and Latine intelligence and achievement hasn’t been looked at correctly, and how environmental factors have been negatively influencing both these things for decades. She shows how it’s not just class-based, either, as middle-classed Black American households with incomes between $50,000-$60,000 live in areas that “are more polluted than those of very poor white households with incomes less than $10,000.” She gets into topics like neurotoxins, nutrition, birth control, and all other environmental factors that have resulted in public health issues for communities of color.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

A Little Sumn Extra

The Violin Conspiracy is the February Good Morning America Book Club Pick

How much do you know about world geography? Get into this game fellow Rioter Kelly Jensen shared with me last week

Rioter Chris M. Arnone writes about some lesser-known Harlem Renaissance writers

Here’s another by the Arnone that talks about how the topics presented during the Harlem Renaissance resonate 100 years later

Jessica Pryde writes about how libraries are recognizing Black History month

Here are some interesting facts about Zora Neale Hurston you may not know

A fun Sailor Moon character quiz

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week,

E

Categories
In The Club

Celebrate Black History Month With These Romances

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Now that January is gone, it’s Black History Month, which is always an interesting time, I think. For one, it’s a reminder that so much of Black history is left out of mainstream avenues that cover history (like schools, the media, etc.). All of the instances of censorship have seen to that being confirmed as having been intentional. So acknowledging and celebrating Black history on such a large scale is both welcomed and needed. Some of my Black friends and I can’t help but kiki, though, at how blatantly certain retailers lean into celebrating Blackness out of nowhere. I mean, the support is cool of course, but cultural appropriation is real, and the sudden 180 does come across as disingenuous at times. So please double check that everything that is Black-centered that comes out around this time of year is actually supporting Black artists or donating to worthy causes, because all that glitters with kente cloth isn’t gold.

With that said, I’m excited to get to the club with you, where I’ll be hyping up some fun, steamy Black romances! Now on to the (love) club!

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!


Nibbles and Sips

smothered chicken over rice

Check out this recipe for smothered chicken from chef Kia Damon, who describes just what “smothered” means: “The technique of smothering involves toasting butter and flour into a roux, adding aromatics, and thickening it into a flavorful sauce.” The full list of ingredients this recipe also calls for is:

1 cup plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
3 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
6 slices bacon, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
½ small white onion, diced
2 small leeks, white parts only, trimmed and thinly sliced
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups|500 ml chicken stock
cooked white rice, to serve

I know a thing or two about something smothered, and it’s the best kind of comfort food.

Now on to the books!

Showing Some Love to Black Love

cover of I'm So (Not) Over You  by Kosoko Jackson

I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson

Journalist Kian Andrews hadn’t heard from his wealthy ex Hudson Rivers for months when he suddenly hit Kian up, pressing him to meet up at a café. Kian thought Hudson was trying to slide back in, but turns out, he just wants a dinner date for his parents showing up in town. Kian agrees, but that agreement turns into him going to the wedding of the season in Georgia. Now, being able to hobnob with wedding guests will certainly boost Kian’s fledgling career, but he and Hudson are going to need to reevaluate somethings. I haven’t read this one yet, but it promises to be a fun and sweet rom-com, and I’m always down for more M/M romances!

cover of Black Love Matters by Jessica P. Pryde

Black Love Matters by Jessica P. Pryde

Book Riot’s very own Jessica P. Pryde just released this wonderful collection of essays (🎉!) that explore this aspect of Black life that has not yet gotten its due in the media. The last 400 years of Black history as it relates to romantic love are explored, with many of the writers enhancing said history with personal accounts. This combination of the personal with the academic makes this collection such a wonderfully complex and fully realized examination of a topic that has been so central to a lot of human experiences since our existance, but that Black people have largely not been presented within the context of: love.

cover of Sweethand by N.G. Peltier

Sweethand by N.G. Peltier

Cherisse has sworn off men on account of her f-boi cheating musician boyfriend. Now, she’s channeling her energy into running her pastry chef business. Minding my business has always worked for me, but Cherisse’s mom isn’t having it as far as her daughter is concerned, and insists on trying to match her up with someone. And, unfortunately, Cherisse’s little sister getting married isn’t providing the distraction for her mom she thought it would. Then she starts coming into contact with the always aggravating Keiran King, who’s best friends with the man her sister is marrying. Keiran and Charisse have never seen it for each other, but things are different now. This has the added benefit of taking place in Trinidad, and features a sensitive male lead. We stan a sensitive (Keiran) King!

*whispers* also, the steamy scenes are A++ *ahem*

cover of get a life chloe brown

Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Y’all. I did not know I’d love this series as much as I do. It’s about Chloe, a computer whiz who suffers from chronic pain and has become determined to start experiencing life for real once she almost kinda dies. She moves out of her parents’ house and is trying to cross things off her get-a-life list when she comes into contact with her building’s super, Redford, who she doesn’t really vibe with at first. As they come to be around each other more, she learns more about why he isn’t as active in the art world any more, and he learns about the issues she’s had with relationships— both platonic and romantic— in the past. The lady who plays Lady Danbury in Bridgerton, Adjoa Andoh, narrates the audiobook. And with some of the scenes here being so… zesty… let’s just say that I’ll be reminded of things every time Lady Danbury speaks on season two of Bridgerton.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Suggestion Section

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson is Today’s Book Club Pick for February

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont is Reese’s pick

Here are some interesting predictions made by sci-fi books

Book recommendations based on your horoscope

Please read about the messy life of George Villiers, who was King James’ lover (yes, the King James who had the Bible translated into English)


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

News and New Middle Grade, YA, and Adult Releases!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

In Color Readers! How have you been faring so far this winter? The East Coast and Midwest has been having some gnarly weather the past few days. I’ve been hearing from some people how they’ve even been having pipe issues and below freezing temperatures. I hope that wherever you’re reading from, your pipes are treating you right, and the temperature is respecting you!

I’m super excited to celebrate our first Black History Month together, and this month has so many great books coming out that have been authored by Black people! I’m. HYPE. Below are some of the many great books coming out this month that I think you should check out.

cover of Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J. Perry

Middle Grade

Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J. Perry

Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson

Omar Rising by Aisha Saeed

Wishing Upon the Same Stars by Jacquetta Nammar Feldman

cover of And We Rise by Erica Martin

Young Adult

And We Rise by Erica Martin

No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado

Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh

The New Girl by Jesse Q Sutanto

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi

cover of Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson; white font over multi-colored paint swishes that create the face of a Black woman in the center

Adult

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Black Girls Must Be Magic by Jayne Allen

The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems by Aaiún Nin

Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black

Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander 

Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson

Didn’t We Almost Have It All: In Defense of Whitney Houston by Gerrick Kennedy

The Family She Never Met by Caridad Pineiro

Black Love Matters by Jessica P. Pryde

What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

A Little Sumn Extra

a bookmark showing a Black girl with her face obscured by the book she's reading. She's sitting with her knees to her chest, and is wearing a shirt and shorts in a burnt orange color with turquoise socks.

How cute is this bookmark from a Black-owned Etsy shop? $10

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week!

-E

Categories
In The Club

Delicious Food Memoirs

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Do y’all have that one friend who is your food bestie? I know that many social gatherings are centered around food, but I’m talking about a friend who really gets you food-wise. I have one such friend who I met in undergrad (she was my first roommate!). I’ll call her Kay. To exemplify just what I mean when I say we do food damage when we link up, I have a story from when Kay was in grad school in Nashville:

I went to visit her and my family and we went to this place called Knockout Wings. Let me tell you something. Once we had gone back to her house and eaten, we literally woke up like 5 hours later disoriented. We had had plans to go out later that night, but instead woke up confused with lemon pepper crumbs on our faces. Knockout Wings actually knocked us out. A mess doesn’t begin to describe it (actual footage of me eating the wings). In honor of my food bestie, I’ll be discussing a few food memoirs.

Now, on to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

Effie's Shrimp creole in a cast iron skillet next to a garnish and a red bell pepper

Here’s a recipe from Bress ‘n’ Nyam, a Geechee word meaning “bless and eat.” It’s named for Raiford’s grandmother and goes back three generations. It’s similar to jambalaya, but not quite the same. I’ve gone back to eating fish again and have been on a shrimp kick, and this really hits the spot.

Now for the books!

Finger-Lickin’ Histories

cover of Bress 'n' Nyam by Matthew Raiford

Bress ‘n’ Nyam by Matthew Raiford

Okay, so I’m already cheating, as this isn’t quite a memoir. It’s technically listed as a cookbook and features Gullah Geechee recipes. The Gullah people are the descendants of enslaved Africans brought to America, and hail from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Their language is a West African-based creole called “Geechee.”

Raiford inherited his grandmother’s Georgia farm in 2010. The farm had been passed down the family line starting in 1874 when his formerly enslaved great-great-great grandfather bought the land. Raiford decided to return to this farm and tend to it, thereby reconnecting with his ancestral home. I’ve included this cookbook in a list about memoirs be because Raiford tells the tale of his family, and the Gullah people, connecting them all to the more than 100 recipes within. There are 100 photos of recipes as well as important Raiford family pictures that really serve to anchor the food to history and the Black American experience.

Book Club Bonus: I think it’d be cool to make a recipe from the book and bring it to a bookclub meet-up (or have it handy for virtual discussions). Discuss if you think many see Black American cuisine as quintessentially American and how food has reflected Black American history, making sure to discuss both bondage and African roots.

cover of Black, White, and The Grey- The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano

Black, White, and The Grey- The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano

This is a dual memoir by Black chef Bailey from Queens and white investor Morisano from Staten Island who opened a restaurant in Savannah, GA. The restaurant, The Grey, was converted from a formerly segregated Greyhound bus station and is highly acclaimed. This memoir shows how their partnership (they didn’t really know each other initially) and the restaurant came to be. There is humor, honesty, and insight throughout as it tackles topics like business, bias, food, and racism.

Book Club Bonus: Discuss what you think of the authors’ decision on whether to keep the “Colored Waiting Room” sign. What do you think that decision added to or took away from the overall experience?

cover of Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

Hamilton didn’t start off wanting to open a restaurant. She had gotten an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan, even. But, the twenty years of self-discovery that had found her learning about hospitality from people all over the world, learning her lesson from crimes committed in her youth, and trying to escape a broken family led her to eventually opening a successful restaurant that has grossed $2 million within a year. Anthony Bourdain once called this the best chef memoir ever.

Book Club Bonus: Hamilton talks about how she finds a new family in the one she gains through marriage. She also mentioned how food and hosting parties were mostly pleasant experiences growing up, but thought of having a career in food to mean having a career without meaning. Discuss the role food and hospitality played in her upbringing, and subsequently how she viewed it as an adult.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

Suggestion Section

Bitch Media is having their first book chat on Jan. 28th, which will be on bell hook’s All About Love. RIP, bell!

A great list of books to read in 2022

Kelly Jensen reports on how a library district welcomes censorship and a librarian was fired

A fun look at iconic author photos by Emily Martin (spoiler: there’s a cow suit)

An article by Danika Ellis on how books and reading are two different hobbies (Reddit weighed in on this one)

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Yours in lemon pepper,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Throwback Tuesday: Topics in History You May Have Never Heard of

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I feel like History, as it’s mostly presented North American media, tends to focus on the same few topics from white men’s perspectives. This has, of course, gotten better in recent years, but I’m still amazed at how so many movies, shows, and books still like to focus on the same few topics (I know enough about WWII, okay?!), especially whenever I first learn of some major historical moment or figure that I had never heard of before. My most recent mindblown-by-history moment came as I was gathering books for the latest Hey YA Extra Credit episode (which airs tomorrow, January 26th) where I discussed YA books with activism. Because of Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada, I first heard of the military regime that ruled over South Korea in the ’80s.

Here are a few more books that take you to interesting places in history that should be talked about more:

cover of The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

In 1952, Mahmood Mattan was accused of murder and eventually executed in Wales. This was par for the course for murder cases at that time, so why was this significant? Because he was innocent. The Muslim Somalian immigrant initially hadn’t taken the charges seriously when a female shopkeeper was murdered and the authorities were looking for someone to pin it on. He had chalked interest in him as the perpetrator up to the same racial prejudice that saw him unable to find work other than being the occasional sailor. Although he had his vices, like gambling —which his Welsh wife had kicked him out for— he always vehemently maintained his innocence in the murder. This is historical fiction, but is based on the true story of the last hanging in Wales.

cover of Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth 

What do you know of Oman? If you’re like me, next to nothing. And that makes sense when you consider how this is the first book by a woman from Oman to be translated into English. And, uh, this was first published in 2010, with the English translated edition having been published in 2019, so… yeah. If you’re sitting and reading this with a surprised pikachu face, know I had the same face when I first found that out.

Celestial Bodies is a tale of Oman that is both past and present. It shows how the roles of politics, gender, and class factor into the personal through the interworkings of families. We’re introduced to three sisters— Mayya, Asma, and Khawla — who hail from a well-off family, but each have their own views of marriage. We’re shown Mayya’s life, after she marries Abdullah, who was raised by Zarifa— his father’s slave. We also learn of Zarifa’s life, whose mother was born on the day slavery was supposed to have been abolished, and who was later sold as an enslaved teenager and married off to another enslaved person from Africa. The novel takes us through Oman’s pastoral and patriarchal, slave-holding past (slavery having only just been abolished in the country 1970), and brings us into its present.

cover of The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

The Shadow King shows the fortitude and resourcefulness of one young Ethiopian woman during the second invasion of Ethiopia by Italy in the 1930s, right before WWII. The dark cloud of Mussolini looms overhead as orphaned Hirut tries to adapt to life as a maid in the house of Kidane, an army officer. Kidane’s behavior towards Hirut turns from pleasant to cruel as his sexual harassment of her is met unfavorably. Hirut finds herself in a totally new world living in the officer’s house, and as the war takes shape, she and other women— like Kindane’s wife Aster— want to do more for their country than nurse the wounded.

The titular Shadow King character comes as a result of Hirut’s brilliant idea to replace Emperor Haile Selassie, who has gone into exile, with a lookalike who has been trained to speak and act like him. With Hirut at his side as his guard, a man who was formerly a peasant maintains the morale of his country as the Shadow King, even inspiring more women to join in the fight against the more technologically advanced Italian army.

cover of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer

Bury Me at Wounded Knee gets an update by Treuer. Whereas many people see Native American history as reaching its apex at the 1890 battle, Treuer shows just how rich and varied Native life and history has been since. He mixes reporting with memoir and interviews with elders to show the continued efforts by the U.S. government to destroy Native culture— specifically Ojibwe in Treuer’s case— and seize Native lands, and how this has susequently been met with resistance. One such instance of resistance was the American Indian Movement of the 1970s that was started by urban Native tribes, although it had some trouble gaining support with those living in rural areas. With The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer takes what’s commonly thought of as Native American history and fleshes it out, telling a story of continued persecution, resistance, and pride.

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

A Little Sumn Extra

Here are the winners for the ALA’s Youth Media Awards, which includes the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards

Little Free Library’s Action Book Club has an environmental theme

Lebron James is producing a series that will be based on The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Kelly Jensen highlights some interesting metal bookmarks

This article on Khalil Gibran, the third best selling poet in history, and his widely popular book The Prophet

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

See y’all!

-E

Categories
In The Club

Royal-Tea 🫖

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Have you all been following the Epstein mess? Specifically, did you hear about what happened with Prince Andrew soon after Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of sex trafficking charges? The queen of England, his mom, stripped him of titles (describing the situation as throwing him “under the royal bus” is so deliciously messy, I love it). I was surprised she took such swift, definite action. I mean, she didn’t turn him in, but the gesture seemed to imply that he’s not above punishment for wrong doing. Again, I found this surprising. And that surprise is of course because of the fact that he is a wealthy white man who was born into literal royalty.

I think we Americans have an interesting view of royalty. On the one hand, I think we’re brought up to view it as a desirable thing. Disney and the constant coverage of Princess Diana, Grace Kelly, and Meghan Markle has glorified young women becoming princesses. On the other hand, it goes against what are supposed to be American ideals: freedom, democracy, etc., which begs the question as to why it has been historically so heavily pushed in the first place?

As we ponder these things, let’s get to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

bowl of cinnamon toast popcorn from recipe from the New York Times

My good friend and I were just extolling the joy that is popcorn. While we were talking, she was having white cheddar, and I my usual store-bought fave kettle corn. Being from Chicago (home of Garrett’s Popcorn), she knows a thing or two about how to dress up a kernel. Today, I’ll include a couple ideas for getting your popcorn extra fancy and all that good stuff. Firstly, here’s a copycat recipe for Garrett’s. Next, the NYT offers a cinnamon toast inspired recipe.

Now, (royal) We are off to the books!

Windsor, Not!

cover of A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Ok, so we’ve all heard of the whole African prince scam by now. I have certain feelings about it as it seemed to me that it was yet another negative thing westerners latched onto concerning Africans, but that’s another conversation. Here, Naledi Smith is an “all my life I had to fight” type of girl, having grown up in foster care, so she doesn’t believe emails saying she’s meant to marry an African prince. When Prince Thabiso finds his betrothed, Naledi doesn’t immediately clock him as royalty, and the Prince sees this as an opportunity to live life like a regular. You already know romance ensues! It’s definitely a fun ride.

Book Club Bonus: I like when different facets of Black life are shown, so I appreciate African royalty being represented in books. But, there is still apart of me that wonders how good royalty in any land is truly beneficial for the majority of people there. Usually, royalty has meant some kind of absolute rule. Discuss both sides of this.

cover of A Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner

A Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner

Anne Glenconner was a close friend and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret. She befriended Queen Elizabeth II when she was young, and was born into a titled family herself— her father was the 5th Earl of Leicester— but could not inherit a title as she was the wrong gender. Let me tell y’all how much drama was in her life. Phew! She dealt with the backstabbing nature of the royal court, a 54-year old marriage to an abusive, cheating man (who left his fortune to a servant when he died. Again, I say Whew!), and two of her adult sons passing away. Through all of this, she was privy to intimate moments of the royal family. I do have to side eye her for “… developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbor for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities.” On first read, that detail is giving gentrification, but maybe that’s just me. Nonetheless, Glenconner offers the most personal look into royal life without being a part of the British royal family herself.

Book Club Bonus: Anne Glenconner’s life had many great moments, but many tragic ones as well. How do you think her proximity to the royal family ultimately influenced this?

cover of Finding Freedom- Harry and Meghan by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand

And then there are the people who would rather leave the royal family all together. Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand are reporters that cover the royal family, and here they have built a case for why Meghan and Harry decided to leave royalty behind. The book promises to dispel untrue rumors and give a fair look. Prince Harry is supposed to have a memoir coming out later this year. We’ll see what other tea is spilled there.

Book Club Bonus: This obviously flies in the face of the idea that royalty is the end all, be all. Do you think they should have kept the power and influence that came with the royal titles? Or, are they not really losing anything since they have power and influence from their fame alone?

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Suggestion Section

The influence of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is detailed here.

Jess Pryde speaks on the importance of mass market romance.

A public library is welcoming censorship

A great list of queer found family books

A fun quiz that matched your tea preferences with a book recommendation


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next week,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

In the Spirit of Activism

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Reading color friends! Yesterday was MLK day and I think that for the past few years, many have felt that the history surrounding Dr. King was firmly in the past. That we were in a post racial America, and that it was safe to look back on the civil rights movement as a by-gone era with completely foreign motivations. Thankfully, many of those people have been woken up and it is now better understood how the past has firm ties to the present. The things that Dr. King and his contemporaries fought for still exist today, but only may have changed form.

Here are some books that encompass that same spirit of activism, social justice, and stepping outside of one’s experience that Dr. King stood for:

cover of Voice of Freedom- Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford

This children’s book is a great introduction to Fannie Lou Hamer, who was a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but was from a much different background. Where he was educated and coached to be a leader within the civil rights movement, Hamer was the 20th child of sharecroppers in Mississippi, and had a sixth grade education. Even with these beginnings, she rose to be a leading voice within the movement. Her voice and message of what Black people suffered was so strong that a speech she gave at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 garnered nation-wide support, despite President Johnson interrupting it.

cover of This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell

This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell

Tiffany Jewell is an anti-racist and anti-bias activist, and with this book, she has given readers an actual guide to taking down the beast that is racism, starting with the self. She educates on the current usage of terminology that is used in reference to marginalized identities, dispels misconceptions around race, and offers activities at the end of each chapter that encourage self reflection. This is marketed a little more towards young adults, but should be suitable for all ages.

cover of Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong

Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong

Disabled activist Alice Wong gives a voice to the 20% of the American population that is disabled. Through the various essays, blog posts, eulogies, Congressional testimonies, and other writings that comprise Disability Visibility, Wong demonstrates the complexity of being disabled. Among the disabilities given visibility here are blindness and deafness, generalized mental illness, autism, fibromyalgia, and more. There’s also an excellent YA version of this book as well: Disability Visibility (Adapted for Young Adults).

cover of How We Fight White Supremacy by Akiba Solomon

How We Fight White Supremacy by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin 

Solomon and Rankin are journalists who have gathered a collection of essays and musings from well-known Black people from various professions about what exactly white supremacy is. They also cover grassroots organizing for how to combat it, partially by highlighting its blatant as well as its subtle forms. Among the contributors here are Ta-Nehisi Coates, Harry Belafonte, Tarana Burke, Reverend Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and others. The conversation here is started by Black thinkers, but the message is meant for everyone with a mind to fight white supremacy.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

The kids are truly all right: this group of teens started a book club to discuss banned books amidst recent book bannings.

Danika talks about the Streisand effect and what that means for censorship.

In securing the bag (for charity) news: Xiran Jay Zhao auctions off books they sat on for the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. Listen, get in where you fit in. I’m not mad.

cover of The Christmas Princess by Mariah Carey

Carina talks about reading 100 books in a year and how you can miss her (!) with doing that again. I don’t blame you, sis. What is the biggest number of books you’ve read in a year and would you want to read that number again?

Speaking of number of books being read, here are some great (short) books to kickstart any reading goals you may have.

Mariah Carey is publishing her first children’s book,The Christmas Princess . It should be out in October this year.

If you haven’t heard already, Maya Angelou is the first Black woman to be on the U.S. quarter.


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

See you next week!

-E

Categories
In The Club

Giving Context to Legends

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Have you tried Worldle yet? If so how do you feel about it? I started playing it as other Rioters started talking about it, but didn’t realize people had strategies and such for it. In true me fashion, I have no strategy and just randomly start guessing five letter words. So far, it’s been cute. It’s been an entertaining little distraction each day I’ve played it. I like how it limits you to one game per day. It’s an interesting feature in a world that is now geared towards marathoning entertainment and other ways to get instant gratification. I’m curious to see how future games, shows, apps, etc. will adapt to fill certain gaps in our experience.


Nibbles and Sips

red lentil curry with brown rice, as well as  lime and cilantro garnishes

I’ve been having a lot of rice-adjacent meals lately that weren’t curry, but got me thinking not curry. This one features red lentils (although you can also use chickpeas) and comes courtesy of Sweet Potato Soul. She lists out the ingredients for the spices, but you can be like me and just use the bottle of spice that simply says “curry” that you’ve got in the kitchen cabinet. I’m sure the flavor will be more robust with the additions of the other spices, but I just wanted to give you an option if you don’t cook Indian food much, or don’t have Ms. Sweet Potato’s thorough spice selection.

How Much Do You Know About MLK?

I wanted to focus on a few books surrounding MLK because, firstly, MLK day is on the 17th, and secondly, because I think what was omitted from the civil rights movement is interesting.

For example, fifteen year old Claudette Colvin was Rosa Parks before Rosa Parks, but wasn’t highlighted because she wasn’t light-skinned and had a teenaged pregnancy. This was despite the fact that she was a member of the NAACP Youth Council. The civil rights leaders of the time (including the machine behind MLK, which was church-based) didn’t see her as the ideal person to shape a movement around. Now, many people have never heard of her.

Similarly, there are other parts of Dr. King’s life and the rest of the civil rights movement that have been known of for a while, but simply not mentioned because of intentional efforts to frame the era in a certain way. Here are a few books to further flesh out the man and the time:

cover of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Edited by Clayborne Carson

Where better to start understanding Dr. King than here? This is a first-hand account by King himself that details his thoughts on the movement he had become the face of, as well as how he balanced time with his family, his views on religion, and other aspects of his life. It also includes some of his famous speeches, like “I Have a Dream,” “Give Us the Ballot,” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

Book Club Bonus: Discuss what you learned here about Dr. King that you didn’t know before. How does what you knew about him and the civil rights movement from years prior (like what you learned in school) compare with what you read about him here?

Sometimes learning about certain topics in the context of school can make us desensitized to whatever gravity they may hold. Do you feel that recent events (like the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, as well as other recent protests) have made what Dr. King writes about here feel more real than they did when you first learned about them?

cover of I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters by Bayard Rustin

I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters by Bayard Rustin

Rustin was MLK’s right-hand man who has been referred to as the civil right movement’s “lost prophet.” He organized the March on Washington in 1963, which was the largest demonstration for human rights in United States history at the time. Despite his importance within the movement, he was largely kept in the shadows because he was an out gay man during a fiercely homophobic time.

Book Club Bonus: As I mentioned before, the Black church at the time (like many other churches of the time) was not accepting of queerness. Discuss why you think this was the case? Was it because of the then perceived idea that Christianity was not compatible with all human identities, or was it a result of respectability politics?

cover of Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin (January 25)

This biography of Constance Baker Motley is the first of its kind, and where I start to branch off from Dr. King’s close circle a bit, as she wasn’t close to him. She did, however, defend him in Birmingham. She was also one of the first Black women to practice law in the U.S., having graduated from Columbia Law school in 1944. She went on to be the first Black woman to do quite a few things, including the first to try a Supreme Court case and to help argue Brown vs. The Board of Education. She was also a gay rights ally.

Book Club Bonus: Have you ever heard of Constance Baker Motley? If not, why do you think she isn’t mentioned as often as other important figures of the time?

Suggestion Section

Honor by Thrity Umrigar is Reese’s January book club pick

The Maid by Nita Prose is GMA’s pick (I’ve actually already started reading this one)

Noname’s pick is Live from Death Row by Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote (*whispers* it’s $1.99 right now on kindle) is January’s pick for the Indigenous Reading Circle book club, which was previously known as erinanddanisbookclub on instagram.

Here are some book recs based on your horoscope for January

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until Next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Self-Care is the Best Care

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions? Do you look forward to making them each year and subsequently forgetting them within two months sticking to them? Or, have you come to see the rush to join gyms, etc. around this time every year to be exhausting and a little trite? The past couple years, I’ve found it a little more helpful for me to set intentions throughout the year, rather than just once at the beginning of it. With that said, I still appreciate what the turning of the year can mean for what ever progress I want to make. I also appreciate how many New Year’s resolutions have been restructured the past few years. It seems like they’re all moving to incorporate more self-care. Resolutions around weight management, for instance, have been shifting to feeling good in and about your body rather than solely focusing on weigh loss.

Below are some books I hope will be helpful in achieving some of the desired changes for your new year.

cover of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley

Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley

Yoke is a thoughtful look at how yoga is practiced in the western world. Through personal essays, Stanley uses humor and honesty to deliver some insightful truths about racism, wellness, and loving your body and self. For more of a how-to yoga book by Stanley, check out Every Body Yoga. She also has classes (including a 2 week trial) if you’re interested.

cover of You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh

You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh

Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh has been helping the world to better understand Buddhist teachings and practices for decades now. In You Are Here, he uses a retreat he led for Westerners as a foundation to show how to attain mindfulness, which can be used in meditation practices, or otherwise incorporated into everyday life.

cover of The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” — Audre Lorde

The concept of self-care as we have been seeing it used the past few years has been somewhat appropriated. When Audre Lorde made the case for unapologetically taking care of herself, it was to further combat the systems of oppression that would see a Black, queer and female body destroyed. The Body is Not an Apology has similar energy. In it, Renee Taylor makes the case that physical human bodies are just as varied as our personalities, and that our ability to see and accept this diversity has been thrown off balance. A poet and activist herself, she shows how we can radically accept ourselves, thereby preserving bodies and minds that oppressive systems might otherwise break down.

cover of Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee

Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee

You know how there’s always a push to do more? To increase productivity, focus, or some other work-related thing? Well, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee makes the case for how we need to have several seats. In Do Nothing, we’re shown the value in reconnecting with some quintessentially human aspects of ourselves: our creativity, our capacity to reflect, our social life. Funnily enough, taking a load off, relaxing, and reconnecting with these things can actually make you more productive, but that’s an aside. Read this to “recover [your] leisure time” and take a load off.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

Rebecca Hussey writes about a new study that shows that nearly 1 in 3 Americans are reading ebooks

Here’s a great list of YA books like Firekeeper’s Daughter

Toni Morrison’s short story Recitatif will be released in February. It’s been out, but this one will feature an introduction by Zadie Smith.

What some Black authors have to say about recent book bans

Roxane Gay is launching a new podcast

Tressie McMillan Cottom is writing a newsletter for the New York Times. She also covered Jason Isbell’s Nashville Ryman residency and compiled a playlist where he chose a Black woman performer to open for him almost every night for a week in December.

How much do you know about the trendy new word game Wordle?

A Malcolm X Biography donation was rejected by a Tennessee prison

Here’s news that sounds like the premise of a novel: A manuscript thief was caught


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In The Club

Books that Pass the Vibe Check

Happy New Year and welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Phew! We made it, y’all. What exactly we made it to is still developing— *cries in 2020, too*— but at least we’re here! I hope the past couple of weeks have been restorative and pleasant for everyone.

I’m still in that relaxed mode and not trying to do too much of anything serious. The world, as usual, is doing too much (exhibits 1 and 2), and I’m just trying to maintain my vibes over here, you know what I mean? For this club meeting, we’re just going over some feel-good memoirs.

Now, to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

vegan tomatillo soup

I love the sentence that introduces this list of recipes: “In times like these, what we need most is bowl food.” Pretty much how I feel at the moment. I honestly love soups and stews year-round, but especially when it’s cold and I want to bundle up. Fire up those instant pots and what have you, and get to it!

Sn: They all look good, but the tomatillo one is calling to me.

Now for the books!

Low-Key Reads for the New Year

These memoirs can get a little real, but will still get you in the ribs. Just what I need in these trying times.

cover of If You Ask Me by Betty White

If You Ask Me by Betty White

First of all, BETTY! How many universally loved people are there in the world, really? She was definitely one of them, which was interesting because I feel like she didn’t pander and was honest. In this memoir, Betty speaks on the many different aspects of her life —love, friendships, aging, television, as well as her love for animals. You can, of course, expect her trademark humor throughout. *cues up Golden Girls on Hulu*

cover of Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

The title of this book is something I resonate with on a spiritual level. Irby also has a newsletter called bitchesgottaeat, so you already know she’s funny. Here, she talks about the new things going on in her life— like leaving her veterinary clinic job, leaving Chicago for a small, white and Republican city, and life with her wife— as her fortieth birthday messes with her body and self-esteem.

“Hello, 911? I’ve been lying awake for an hour each night, reliving a two-second awkward experience I had in front of a casual acquaintance three years ago, for eight months.”

Can relate.

book cover here for it by r. eric thomas

Here for It by R. Eric Thomas

Thomas is the author of Elle Magazine’s “Eric Reads the News,” and brings the same wit and humor to his essays. There are recurring themes of otherness throughout, with him trying to reconcile his religion with his sexuality, as well as trying to navigate being one of the few Black people at his suburban high school and later Ivy League college. His essays are funny, heartfelt, and relatable.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

Suggestion Section

Here are some challenges to set for your 2022 reading

Our 2022 Read Harder Challenge

Along with a reading log

The School for Good Mothers is Jenna Bush Hager’s January pick

I don’t feel attacked at all by this post about books that help you to build habits and keep them *coughs*

Here are some interesting books that have been translated from Japanese


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next time,

-E