I love books.
I have always loved books.
Books have always been my constant companions.
They go with me everywhere.
I am never without one.
Even when I am not studying, I am reading. I am writing. I am at bookstores.
So it is no surprise that I begin thinking about the next literary circle summer almost as soon as one ends.
2018 was no different.
The options are greater now than they were a decade ago when I first began writing literary criticism and book reviews centered on the works of Black women.
Today, the Black women authors I can present to the teens are more than a few, so many, in fact, that I have to cull down a list of over twenty books to get to just ten for the summer.
The Holiday season affords the opportunity to read for pleasure and to explore the offerings at bookstores. This year, I stacked a list with works by Tomi Adeyemi, Ibi Zoboi, Tayari Jones, Taiye Selasi, Linda Williams Jackson, and Renee Watson, to name a few.
Excitement bubbled up in me and made me giddy for the treasures that were overflowing my home office.
I want the Instagram generation to be excited like me.
So, I’m starting a bit early on The Hurston and Hughes Literary Circle.
We will still meet for ten weeks over the summer and engage in literature. We will explore writing some of our own pieces and hopefully, fall in love with the words on a page in the way our ancestors dreamed.
2019 is the Quadricentennial.
400 years since the first African unwillingly stepped foot on soil in this vast land.
During this entire time, the ability to keep and tell our own stories, to define ourselves, even if that had to be reimagined in a place that wanted to erase everything about us but our labor, has been one of the most connected goals. From stories told and passed down, myths created, an African heritage imaged, a Black American culture formed, stories and words helped us make sense of what never should have been. We must hold onto the stories and invite the next generation to be willing partners in that quest. They have stories now, living in a time that was just twenty years ago a far away dream. They are instantly connected, can create entire manuscripts of photographic essays on devices held in their hands. They no longer need to go to the stores to shop, simply a click of the button and they are finished. Their worlds are much smaller, communicating across the globe with teens like them who are trying to navigate a world that doesn’t seem to stop and listen to everyone. Yet, even in this, they are just like the teens in stories of old. There is something wonderful and universal in remembering and it is in that hope that we will endeavor to remember and renew during 2019.
What are you reading that has you excited? What genre is holding your interest and allowing you to be lost in the pages of a real book? share those with us.
As we close out 2018 and so many things seem uncertain, even as the news of a government shut down reached my twitter pages this morning, I am still full of hope and the light that is in each of us. A long time ago, in another time of uncertainty, the Creator of the world stepped in through an unassuming teenage couple and shifted the possible. I imagine there is a story in the pages of a timeless book awaiting new telling, maybe one of my teens will write that.
With a pen, a moleskin, and a book, they can write the world.
Tayé Foster Bradshaw, my pseudonym in honor of my late father who twenty years ago was celebrating his last holiday season