Cuffing season is upon us and if your couch is a bit lonely, don’t dwell on that honey. Experts say a good book is a great substitute for an empty house (ok, I definitely made that up}. Don’t fret, he/she may be into books and may want to sit in the crib with you and read his/her favorite book. With new releases from Ta Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison, Dick Gregory and Hillary Clinton, Fall is overflowing with great options. Head to Starbucks, grab a salted caramel mocha, a pair of fuzzy socks and one of these top 5 books.
Here’s our list of top picks this season. What’s on your list? Leave a comment and let us know!
“We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.”
But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period—and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective—the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.
Kim Fields has lived most of her life with people thinking they know her, which is understandable. From her first job on a Mrs. Butterworth syrup commercial at age 7, she has spent 40 years in the public eye. There were 9 years as Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey on the classic sitcom The Facts of Life, 5 more in her 20s starring as Regine Hunter on the seminal coming-of-age show Living Single, and most recently appearing as herself on Real Housewives of Atlanta and Dancing with the Stars.
Behind the camera, she has directed episodes of Kenan & Kel, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and House of Payne, and BET’s Let’s Stay Together. Between gigs, the pop culture icon’s life has included theater, spoken word, music, speaking engagements, and simply being present to the point that she cannot go a day without someone stopping her to say, “When I was a kid, I wanted to be Tootie” or “You were my role model.”
Flattered and blessed, after four decades in the business, Kim finally understands the role she has played onscreen and off as a successful, outspoken African-American woman. However, for as much as she’s been in the public eye, people have really never known her the way they think they have, and that’s because she, herself, spent most of her life figuring herself out. Now, at age 48, she is ready to set the record straight. She says, “It’s not that I’ve been misunderstood. It’s that I finally feel like I understand me enough to tell the life story that I’ve been asked to write for years.” It will be a chronicle of living, learning, and keen moments of self-discovery as she’s journeyed through the many facets and chapters of life. Fields found faith at age 14 and has found God to be right there every step of the way since then.
The Origin of Others (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) by Toni Morrison
America’s foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of people, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid?
Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison’s fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books―Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy.
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.
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.
In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.
She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.