Top 10 Books and Reviews for African Americans

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 Rachel Phillips

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see "Rachel's Reviews" for this month.

Top 10 Books for July
(as reported by Essence Magazine)
(Click on any Title to buy!)



This Bitter Earth
by Bernice McFadden
(E P Dutton) $23.95

The Envy of the World: On Being a Black Man in America
by Ellis Cose
(Pocket Books) $22

Satisfy My Soul
by Colin Channer
(One World) $19.95

Having What Matters: The Black Woman's Guide to Creating the Life She Really Wants
by Monique Greenwood
(William Morrow & Co.) $25

Church Folk
by Michele Andrea Bowen
(Warner Books/WalkWorthy Press) $21.95

Nigger: A Strange Career of a Troublesome World
by Randall Kennedy
(Pantheon Books) $22

Any Way the Wind Blows
by E. Lynn Harris
(Doubleday) $19.95

Vernon Can Read!: AMemoir
by Vernon E. Jordan Jr. and Annette Gordon-Reed
(Public Affairs) $26

Just Say No!
by Omar Tyree
(Simon & Schuster) $24

The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe Each Other
by Randall Robinson
(E P Dutton) $24.95

Between Lovers
by Eric Jerome Dickey
(Penguin USA) $23.95

Every Day I Pray
by Iyanla Vanzant
(Simon & Schuster) $20

What You Owe Me
by Bebe Moore Campbell
(Putnam) $25.95
The Autobiography of Quincy Jones
by Quincy Jones
(Doubleday) $26

by Victoria Christopher Murrary
(Warner/WalkWorthy Press) $23.95

Revelations: There's a Light after the Lime
by Mason Betha & Karen Hunter
(Pocket Books) $22

Hit Time
by Ardella Garland & Yolanda Joe
(Simon & Schuster) $21

Grown-A$$ Man
by Cedric The Entertainer
(Ballantine Books) $22

The Harris Family
by R.M. Johnson
(Simon & Schuster) $23
In Our Own Image: Rituals, Journeys and Traditions of Contemporary America
by Patrik H. Bass and Karen Pugh

Rachel's Reviews!
Click on any Title to buy!)

The Bondwoman's Narrative: A Novel, by Hannah Crafts

Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Time Warner Trade Publishing

The Bondwoman's Narrative is a novel presented in true form and under its author's original title. The first known novel written by a female former slave provides a rare glimpse of slavery, from the eyes of a black slave. Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. recently uncovered this unaltered manuscript while recovering from hip replacement surgery. Professor Gates frequently browsed through antique auction catalogs. During one occasion, Gates stumbled upon an untouched manuscript in the catalog that detailed the life of a runaway female slave. Gates procured the manuscript for $9,775 less than the auction's floor price of $10,000 due to no other bidders on the piece. As they say, one man's junk is another man's treasure. Once Gates secured the manuscript he spent many grueling hours examining censuses in his attempt to authenticate the existence of the actual characters.

This historical event written in the 1850s is a fictionalized biography of the early slave life and escape of Hannah Crafts, a mulatto slave. Crafts is a self-educated young woman reared on a plantation. When her new mistress arrives, Hannah learns a great secret that will force them both to flee the miserable place she knows as home. This story stirs the emotions as each page details "passing" in order to escape the horrors of slavery. The Bondwoman's Narrative offers an unforgettable reading experience as Hannah, the story's main character, embarks on a journey to freedom.

Church Folk

Michele Andrea Bowen
AOL Time Warner Book Group

Readers will enjoy this peek into the soul-filled African American church during the 1960s. The church leadership is more concerned with money in their pockets and keeping the women church members happy in bed then carrying themselves in a God-fearing manner. However, God has called on the young and good-looking Reverend Theophilus Simmons to set things straight in the pulpit. The eligible pastor and most respected young preacher during his time sets out to fulfil his calling from church ministers to lead the congregation at Greater Hope Gospel United Church. He's also regretting his affair with Glodean Benson, who's pleased numerous pastors with her sex-capades. Theophilus encounters Essie Lee Lane, a cook at a rib joint. Essie is dedicated to her family and church, yet she "don't take no stuff", especially from visiting preachers. However, she soon discovers that Theophilus is everything she wants in a man. A man who loves God, respects her, and his down-to-earth. Once the two lovebirds marry, it's not long before God puts a test to the newlywed's marriage. Glodean seeks revenge on the man who dumped her. Also, there's trouble in the pulpit. Theophilus and other ministers discover that the church leadership is running a call girl service out of the funeral home of a wealthy church member. Theophilus and Essie struggle as they discover that God has given them to task to lead his people home.

Grown-A$$ Man

Cedric "The Entertainer"
Ballantine Books

In need of a good laugh with quick read? Cedric "The Entertainer" has incorporated his stand-up comic routine on the Kings of Comedy and them some, in Grown-A$$ Man, in his first ever book.

"Grown-A$$ Man.

What does it mean?

It means I ain’t got time to play–no nonsense.

For one thing, it means I don’t wear baggy pants sagging off my bootie. I can’t let you see my underwear label. That’s not cute. I’m a grown-a$$ man.

'Grown-a$$ man' is more than a catch phrase. It’s a way of life. It’s a perspective."

Cedric the Entertainer has certainly placed a perspective on his career. He has sold out major theaters across America and was a major force in Spike Lee’s hit movie The Original Kings of Comedy. The 23 essays explicate life in the African American community, old music vs. new and political correctness. Cedric brings it straight to the reader about the influences that shaped him while growing up in small town Missouri, a town “so small anyone could whip your butt, not just your mama.” The reader is sure to find a good laugh on each page.

The Emperor of Ocean Park

by Stephen Carter and narrated by actor Peter Francis James
Random House

An extraordinary fiction debut: a large, stirring novel of suspense that is, at the same time, a work of brilliantly astute social observation. The Emperor of Ocean Park is set in two privileged worlds: the upper crust African American society of the eastern seaboard-old families who summer on Martha's Vineyard-and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school. It tells the story of a complex family with a single, seductive link to the shadowlands of crime.

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