12 February 2017
Sunday Salon: On Reading More Black Authors
You would think that since I am a black woman I read a lot of books by black authors. Sadly, that is not the case. When I was a teen, I read a lot of poetry and there were poets like Alice Walker and Nikki Giovanni in the mix. I had a fascination with the 1960s and 1970s so I gravitated towards works that came out of the feminist and Black Power movements. I was the one who banged the gong for Walker's "The Color Purple" and tried to get my friends to read it long before it was turned into a movie. That was the last time I remember consciously choosing to read something by a black author.
I read sporadically after high school graduation and while my kids were young, but I didn't really get back into reading on a regular basis until about nine years ago when someone introduced me to Christian historical romances. I fell down that rabbit hole hard! This subgenre appeals to the same part of me that enjoyed previewing middle-grade books for my kids. I get a good story with a guaranteed happy ending, and I can recommend the books without hesitation to a friend without worrying about whether the language or love scenes would offend them. There was something calming about these books that got me through my mother-in-law's death and two years of stress on my last job. It never occurred to me that the books were written almost exclusively by middle-aged white women until recently.
My quandary is that I want to read black authors but I'm having trouble finding books that interest me. Books written by and/or for black people tend to feature a lot about "the struggle". Just because I am black doesn't mean that I spend all day every day thinking about how difficult it is to be a black person in America. I'm confronted with enough articles and nonfiction books about the issue that I want my fiction to be escapism. Historicals are out because, well, slavery. Urban fiction or "thug romance" may appeal to a certain demographic who recognize that as their reality, but I am a lower-middle-class woman who lives in a subdivision. Can't I have romances where a doctor or millionaire sweeps the heroine off her feet, and she just happens to be black? Clearly, I will have to do more research to find what I want instead of just taking random recommendations from the algorithms on Goodreads and Overdrive.
LAST WEEK: I read and wrote reviews for the first two books in Penny Reid's Knitting in the City series, Neanderthal Seeks Human and Neanderthal Marries Human.
UPCOMING: After all that talk, I have a black romance next on my reading list. I've read five books so far this year, and four of them have been contemporary romances. This is unusual for me and I am really craving a historical romance. Luckily I still have that new Jen Turano novella on my iPad!