Happy first day of summer, #ScribeTribe! It’s the summer solstice, and though it’s the dreaded beginning of Cancer season (just kidding, we love you Cancerian folks), we figure that the steadily increasing temperature is no reason let literacy drop. As such, the Scribes at FTS and I have compiled a list of throwbacks and must-reads to make your summer pop and your imaginations soar! Everyone deserves a good escape, so kick back, relax your feet and let the longest day of the year be a great one. Without further ado, here is FTS’ 2017 Summer Reading List.
From Joseph the Poet
1. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? This classic tale of a Black American family written by Lorraine Hansberry was first introduced to me in 6th grade. In her work, Hansberry captures the frustration of lack of class mobility and financial security that plagued (and still plagues) so many black families and gives us a glimpse of what can happened to a dream deferred.
2. Fences by August Wilson
Also a classic tale, Fences is the story of a Black American family living in Pittsburgh in the late 1950s. The patriarch of the family manages to serve as both the protagonist and antagonist, showing us that sometimes, well intentions aren’t enough to produce positive outcomes.
3. For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Wasn’t Enuf by Ntozake Shange
The ever popular (and rightfully so) For Colored Girls has graced the stage and silver screen time and time again. This collection of monologues about the lives of black women illuminate the hardships, traumas, and triumphs experienced and felt, lived and embodied.
4. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire
The ultimate book for the womanist in you. Black women literally do everything, and this book goes to show you that with the Civil Rights Movement, this was no different.
5. Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by Bruce Watson
They never tell you about all the little things that happened to our people to make us the way we are. This book dives very deep into one of the most significant summers in black American history.
6. Learning Rhythm by Kwabena Foli
If you don’t follow Kwabena Foli on Instagram, you won’t understand why this book of poetry is everything you need in life. So go follow him, buy this book, get your life, and follow Leauxism as well, because she is black girl magic personified and her work on the cover art shows it.
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Because, as my summer tradition, I go through the series to find things and apply theories that the HP Fandom has come up with from the previous year. HP is a classic and it’s always Dumbledore’s Army for life. Get with it or get ghost.
From Ashanti Marshall
8. Now is the Time to Open your Heart by Alice Walker
For the plane ride, the train ride, the bus ride, the car ride. Just be sure to be willing to move forward like Walker’s timeless Kate in this story of “self-saviorism” and personal acceptance. If you want to know my unique engagement with this work, I annotated my favorite page from the book here. It’s a short read that lives and lingers with its soul-stirring lessons and messages.
9. The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin
Staceyann Chin’s hurricane strength of a memoir will impact your understanding and the gravity of your own humanity. You don’t read this work without searching yourself and applying what you find. Read by a body of water and journal about your own personal resilience and survival.
10. The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
A deliciously told coming-of-age story of three generations of Black women. It is sharp and alive with romantic evocation of the island and the positioning of transparency and journeying shown with the matriarch, Hyacinth and the mother of Phaedra and Dionne, Avril. Interesting to note how the journeys of the people that influence us, relate to us as we are understanding the world around us. Naomi Jackson shapes identities and the realities that cling to the heart.
From Willie Kinard
11. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
In a tale on the life and times of a fair-skinned black woman throughout the 1920s, Their Eyes explores love and the ever-growing and blooming soul that is Janie Crawford. A 1937 novel and considerably her best-known work, Hurston sets the US South and the Everglades of Floria as a backdrop for this colorful story.
12. Rice by Nikky Finney
A staple piece in my personal arsenal of poetry gems, in this collection, Finney explores the relationship between coastal South Carolina and rice, in all facets of life, particularly that between the Carolina Gold strain and enslaved Black people. From soil to spoon and every step in between, Finney captures the depth of this link in a stunning web of words.
13. Kindred by Octavia Butler
Half time-travel novel, half slave narrative, Kindred is a temporal jumping masterpiece birthed from the mother of science fiction herself, the incomparable Octavia Butler. Wrapping up our list with a bit of all the ’70s vibes needed and some words and spirit from the ancestors, Butler uses her tale to interrogate emancipation, race, gender, and historical trauma.