My mother is a quick reader. Growing up my grandparents made reading important but as I got older it was my mother who really inspired me. She read African American Urban novels. Going into middle school I read books like "the babysitter's club" and "Junnie B Jones". As I progressed through middle school I seen peers reading African American Novels, especially books by Zane. I remember going home and asking my mother could I borrow hers to read and she told me no. I then became self conscious and stopped bringing books to school, would only read at home. There was one day when my mother finally let me read what I wanted, her books, when I was going into high school. I became immersed in the culture of the books. I never really understood the different perspective an African American author could bring to a book. I grew up with only black dolls and being immersed in an environment where I seen people succeeding who looked like me.
I found myself stuck in the drug dealer and girlfriend, crime filled books. As I went through high school I got sick of having the images of black people that I read, and saw through the media being negative. I then went looking for different genera's of books. I stumbled upon Cynthia Eden in the library one day. I used to take trips to the library and book store and ended up staying and reading either the whole book or a majority of it. I picked up one of her novels and fell in love with the paranormal world. I started going down the list and reading everything she has ever wrote. Shapeshifters and Vampires became the only genera of book I would read. I went from Cynthia Eden to Shelly Laurenston and would only read books in the paranormal drama/suspense genera. In college Twilight descended on popular culture and that further solidified my preference of books.
I haven't went back to seeking African American authors until recently. I still don't read "hood books" as i call them. I look for African American authors who wrote suspense, drama and mystery but I screened the books heavily. My first real series that I read by an African American author since I was in high school is the McClain Brothers series by Alexandria House. I love the relatibility to my culture in the book without being 100% negative with stereotypes jumping out at us. I am all aware of living in my truth and owning your true self. however, just like music and movies, I do not think books need to be all about the negative aspects of my culture in order to be a representation of my culture.
Drop some of your favorite authors below. What books changed your life?