This is a post about books.
The Queen is a lover of books. The Royal Family was a big believer in learning.The Queen Father was one of youngest students to enter Howard University; and the Queen Mother was asked by Mary McLeod Bethune to be a part of the dedication ceremony for the National Council of Negro Women House in Washington DC. Some of my favorite memories revolve around story times with my parents. It instilled in me a voracious appetite for discovering more.
Right now I am in the middle of reading three selections. The Queen hasn’t embraced the E-book generation quite yet–preferring the feel and smell of a heavy volume. However, the idea of being able to carry a virtual library and giving my back a rest is incredibly enticing. I know I am becoming a relic, because the idea of books becoming archaic objects absolutely terrifies me. I’ve seen Star Trek–The Next Generation. I know it’s coming. But until then, I’d like to share with you Miss Things the stack that is sitting on my nightstand and sometimes in my back-breaking knapsack or bag (thanks to you all, the Queen ended up getting the last one on the page).
The Queen will probably once again have his Black Card revoked for this statement: I am not a big fan of gay fiction by black writers. Mostly it’s because of the writing style. And character development. And plot development.
In other words, everything. The Queen is a sanctimonious bitch sometimes.
However, after reading the first few paragraphs of every book in the black, gay section of the Strand I found this work by Terrance Dean–the author of Hiding In Hip-Hop. Unlike so many of the other works I perused, Dean understands how to hook you with a strong, sure-footed narrative, and reel you in with suspense. The story revolves around a high-powered, successful entrepreneur in the testosterone-filled world of Hip-Hop who has decided to come out of the closet. It starts out with a bang, and so far continues to intrigue. This is stuff that black men don’t talk about. It addresses homophobia in the Black community head on (pun-intended). I applaud Mr. Dean for doing so…and in an entertaining manner.
You can read an excerpt here.
Manchild in the Promised Land-Claude Brown
One of the most convenient things about getting older is memory loss. Not only does it help you conveniently forget many of those pesky fuck-ups you’ve made throughout your life; but it also allows you to revisit books you’ve read before as if it were the first time. The Queen was never inordinately rebellious in his youth–although I did join a gang during my Middle School years. Even during that part of my life, I still read everything I could get my hands on. If I remember nothing else about the book, I remember that it scared the shit out of me and profoundly changed something deep inside.
In a past RPDR post, I talked about working with inmates at the now defunct Lorton Reformatory one day a month for about eight hours as a part of a Social Outreach theatre company called Living Stage. Some of the greatest men I’ve ever met were a part of those sessions. During the eight hours the residents would have to be “counted” three times: once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once in the afternoon. During one particular session, the afternoon count was off. This was nothing truly unusual. The new guards would often make a mistake, and it would be the inmates that would help them correct any discrepancies.
This time however the issue seemed to take a little longer to rectify.
I should point out that in our little company of four there were two women, one white male and one black. The white guy (who was leading the session that day) learned what was up when one of the residents approached him. He kept motioning for me to step back from the circle in which the exercise was to take place after the count. And it suddenly dawned on me: the guards were counting me as one of the residents. That was why the count was off.
Later that evening, when I was walking back to my car, I broke into tears. I realized that the only difference between the men in prison and myself was a prison pass (which I kept VERY close to me for the rest of the day) and one initial incident that changed our respective lives. This book reminds me of that in a very powerful way.
The Alchemist-Paulo Coelho
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Many books have affected me deeply. Most of my primary reference points for dealing with life have come from books. I think it is fair to say that each book I’ve read from my first baby book to the ones that I am involved with now have, on some level, touched something deep within me. None more so than The Alchemist–a tale which reverberates with the Soul of the World.
It is a very simple fable about a shepherd boy who is looking for his Personal Legend: his very special purpose for being. But to find it, he must deal courageously with setback and triumph. Along the way to his Personal Legend he discovers much about himself and the world.
I cherish this book. Not because it offers any magical answers–it has not become a bible for me. I cherish it because it is a beautifully written story that gives me fresh eyes for looking at things that I have known all along. In moments of abject failure and self-doubt, it reminds me that I must be close to treasure…or else the Universe would not be testing me.
Miss Things, if you haven’t already, give yourself a gift and read this story. The Queen gets no kickbacks from Mr. Coelho for recommending it–other than feeling that I have paid a little bit forward from the incredible support you all have given me over the last few months.
So what fabulous tomes are on your Summer Reading list?