May 13, 2011

Today is my father’s birthday and for weeks I have been trying to figure out what to get him. I finally realized that I was thinking entirely to0 hard about what to get when all along I knew the perfect gift…comic books! I grew up in awe of my dad’s comic book collection and was even more in awe when I realized that there were Black SuperHeroes.

This got me to thinking about reading and books, really and truly the books that I grew up with, the importance my parents placed on reading in our household and how those books really played a crucial role in who I am today.

I realize that in the 21st century most folk are caught up on being politically correct, tolerant…race issues/concerns are supposedly a thing of the past. These are not my exact sentiments, but ones that I notice and hear daily, while at the same time seeing actions and interactions that are the exact opposite.  But my worry is that in the quest for equality some folks are also losing their sense of culture, heritage, and background.

While I was raised to be accepting of all and to embrace many, my parents still made and effort to make sure that I had a sense of identity and that I was proud of who I am and where I come from.

One of the ways they did this is that they made sure that the books we read and the toys that we played with were a reflection of the little girls they were raising. They made sure to let us know that our hopes and dreams were just as valid as the hopes and dreams of anyone. That we defined who we were and not outside thoughts that might have you to believe something else. No, I didn’t grow up with all Black everything… ok maybe I did! But in truth it was really about balance a teaching us that before you can love anyone or anything else you have to love self first.

So this post is a post of love. A reveal of some of my favorite books that I still have and read today.  Being a year out of graduate school I can’t lie and say that my reading habits have been stellar, because after six months of research research research, thesis writing and committee craziness, my reading has been pretty light. But reading (even when light) will always be my first love. It taught me that Black Girls can be super heroes, super witty, super sassy, imaginative beyond belief, brave, courageous, ridiculously cool and that was just the beginning.

I am a superhero/sci fi/comic book junkie so to speak and I have my dad to thank for that.

I happen to have one of the best comic book stores Ive seen in a while all of like 5 minutes from where I live. Alliance Comics one of the few full fledged comic book stores actually left. They have an awesome selection of books, comics (back issues too), figurines and all kind of other comic swag. So Dad will be getting the comic book above (I thumbed through it gently) and this awesome Justice League of America Tin Sign, they had all kinds and they were only $10 might go back and get one for the house.  I hope he likes! Happy Birthday to the Best Father Ever! R.E.C I Love You!!!

Buck Wild and Lysistrata Jones

BulletProof- Check the Asymetrical Fade

 Before I ever knew about Disney’s Princess’s all of my fairytales were full of characters who looked like me.

Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp

By Mercer Mayer the same writer who did all of the Little Critters books (which I love too) I am pretty sure this book might steal #1 on my list.  Its the story of a sassy little black girl who rocks her afro proud as she journeys across the Yeller Belly Swamp to take her grandma some sweet potatoes!

Rapunzel as retold and illustrated by Fred Crump, Jr. I’d say these books are are close #1 t00.   I can remember growing up in Denver and sitting in the Hue-Man Bookstore  now located in New York City and reading these books over and over again. My sister and I have most of his books, and there have been some new ones released since these but the ones below were some of my favs. It’s sad that a lot of his older books are now out of print, I keep hoping and wishing someone will produce a cartoon series or movie from his books.

I would often thumb through my parents books collection and there were always a certain set of books that seemed so strange and intriguing to me. The covers always had and etherial looking black woman with strange symbols and even stranger titles to my young eyes. and eventually instead of just fingering the cover with its raised gold font I opened one.

Octavia E. Butler is hands down one of the best authors of all time. Yeah yeah Star Wars and Star Trek are cool but they ain’t got nothin on Butler.  Her books are loved by a dedicated group of followers and when I found out she had passed away I was devastated, but here books have never failed me. I have read many of them over and over again and each time I am sad when I come to the end, so I start one over. This is Science Fiction/AfroFuturism on another level. The attention to detail, the vividness of the story, I become the characters and I am lost her world.  FYI if you haven’t heard of her she is nowhere close to being a lightweight in the fiction world. She’s won the Hugo and Nebula award and she was the 1st Sci Fi writer ever (black or otherwise) to receive The MacArthur Foundation Genus Grant.

This is the first book that I read in a class full of students where I was in the minority and I was angry. I can remember reading this book in 3rd grade or so and not wanting to put it down but at the same time being confused at the emotions that I felt as I turned each page. This book is a part of a 5 book series and I still haven’t read all of them. I also loved The Gold Cadillac.

A bit of a random post I realize but they are all books that helped me form my identity as I grew older, these books helped me to be comfortable in my skin, to embrace my culture, and to recognize the rich history that I come from and that continues to be created.

What are some books that changed your life, empowered you, helped to define who you are, or that you simply just love?

3 Responses to “Curry(ReadingisCool!)Curls”

  1. Keesha said

    Roll of Thunder, Hear my cry and The Road to Memphis where two books that I read and re-read in my youth.

  2. Miss Moon said

    I love love love Octavia E. Butler.. “Wild Seed” is my all-time favorite of hers!!!!

  3. I agree very cool!! Love the books.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: