Mommy Knows Best

I just purchased seven books on amazon.com and may I say this is a great day. At least five of the books were $0.01. That is a BLESSING. On this, the day that I skipped church. Whew, amen.

I’ve been infatuated with books and reading for as long as I can remember. It’s my momma’s fault. When I was little and all the kids would come home from school and watch “Rugrats” and “Clarissa Explains It All” she had decided it was best for my sister and I to watch no TV from Monday through Friday. The “school week” later to be known as the “work week” , equally annoying and hellish in their own special ways.

The rule was annoying at the time and rendered me socially lacking. While all my friends were talking about the latest episode of “My Brother and Me”, I was standing there looking like “it’d be nice to have seen that show.” I didn’t realize what a gift my momma had bestowed upon me. Since I didn’t waste time in front of the TV I used books to pass the time. By 3rd grade I was on a 7th grade reading and comprehension level. This was all because I spent more time reading books than almost anything else.

I always have been a picky reader. I think it’s just gotten worst in my old age. I used to spend hours in the public library picking up and putting down books. I would drive my momma crazy but I was a product of her rules so she would complain too much. Now that I have a little money I spend the same hours in book store. I’m a bookstore snob. I deal ONLY in Barnes and Noble. I don’t know why. I like the ambience or something. All Barnes and Nobles have it, no other bookstore can replicate it. Eh, I’m a snob, I accept it.

Most recently I’ve been on this black author kick. I don’t know why I’m on it or how long it will last. But there is a problem that I’ve encountered over and over while seeking books by black authors. A lot of them kind of sound like that old Whitney Houston track, “Same Script, Different Cast.” There’s about 4 typical black stories.

1. Druggie Chronicles

There’s the painfully overdone and all too expected story that has drugs at the center. Whether it’s the story about a drug dealer or an addict. They usually start and end the same way. A seemingly typical person leads a typical life with some major flaw. Then they get thrust into the world of drugs and crime. Everything goes “good” for awhile. Then they have some major event that makes them question everything about their life and they set about to change it, some are successful, some aren’t. The end. I’ve read this story over and over. This is not to say there haven’t been any books that have offered a unique perspective. Tracy Brown is one of my favorite authors who has achieved just that. I find myself walking up and down the B aisle looking for a new Tracy Brown books. I read her books faster than she can write them. Sad face.

2. Ghetto Love Story

This is the typical boy meets girl story with black folks. That’s it. Some authors have managed to turn those love stories into completely non typical occurrences. Authors like Carl Weber and Zane have taken love stories and interwoven them with so many twists and turns that the love story just becomes a backdrop for all the drama taking place. I’ve personally purchased every book these two have written. Not to say that I still have all of them. They’ve been borrowed and not returned. Just can’t trust black folks.

3. Jesus Loves Us All

These are the Tyler Perry movies of the book world. The stories can and do start anywhere. Lots of stuff goes down between the prologue and the epilogue, but SOMEHOW we all go to church in the end and our lives are instantly changed and we never have a problem again. Now, as much as I love Jesus and believe he can and will fix all my problems (despite how my missing church today may have indicated otherwise) I think a lot of authors use Him as an easy, go to resolution for the hero/heroine’s problems. I just feel like there are much more creative routes that could be taken. People have been using Jesus to fix problems for centuries (I call on Him myself), there’s nothing new or different about it enough for me to need to read about it. But who cares what I think.

4. Coming of Age the Black Way

These are my favorite stories by far in recent years and of course the hardest to find. I like them because they leave the author so much creative freedom . They can literally steer the characters in any direction they see fit. Anything can happen because there isn’t necessarily a predetermined end. They don’t have to become a newly saved ex drug dealer that has recently found love.

They usually follow the character throughout different phases of their lives. This allows the reader to get emotionally attached. Once you’re invested authors that are good at this can have you on an emotional rollercoaster for the duration. My all time favorite book (which admittedly changes from time to time) is a part of this category, 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. This is the only novel she’s written so far. Sad face. Another personal favorite is Tryin to Sleep in the Bed You Made by Vrigina DeBerry and Donna Grant. Today I ordered every other book these two ladies penned (thank you Amazon.com).

My books are something akin to a roadmap of my life. I can remember specific books I was reading a specific times in my life. Sometimes it even seemed like the characters in my books we guiding me, something only a true booky would understand. My bookshelves are getting full. So I have two choices, get rid of some books or get another bookcase…guess I’ll be hitting up Target soon, or Targe’ if you’re fancy.

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