Show me yours and I’ll show you mine…

English: The Autobiography of Malcolm X in the...
English: The Autobiography of Malcolm X in the White House library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Confession time: I have never read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. What’s more, I’ve never tried to. Some books tend to get away from me like that…books I’ve heard about forever, books that my friends quote frequently, and books that have made a huge impact on writers I admire and read. Every year, I place Autobiography on my list of to-reads, and it never gets done. 

I thought about Malcolm X’s book again because my writing teacher (I’m taking a class, yay!) advised us to read books in the genre you would like to write. I’m very interested in narrative memoir and creative nonfiction essays, so I have been collecting books that echo the stories I want to tell.

So, here are two lists. One is a list of books from my field (Af-Am lit) that I “should have” read by now, and the other is a list of memoirs I have read by people in my genre.


Dara’s Mirror Picks 

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams
*itch is the New Black by Helena Andrews
The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin
The Color of Water by James McBride
Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall
Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Dara’s “Missed It!” Picks

(of course) The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Native Son
or Black Boy by Richard Wright
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

Of course, the list of books I haven’t read greatly exceeds the list of books I have read. What are your “mirror” and “missed it” book picks? Do you have any recommendations to add to my lists?


6 thoughts on “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine…

  1. As a younger woman I enjoyed her books and enjoyed Nella Larsen’s “Passing” and Ann Petry’s “The Street,” but I’m talking at least 30 years back. I don’t know if I’d enjoy them today…maybe. Another book I loved as a young woman or teenager was Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn. In 2013, I LOVED Me B4 You by JoJo Moyes!!!!!!

  2. I may have put the Color of Water on the wrong list; I did get to read that one. I think I have read snippets of Their Eyes Were Watching God. I saw the so-so movie adaptation of it. I need to dig through my Zora Neale Hurston books! 🙂 Thanks!

  3. The Color of Water was an absolutely beautiful book and I do hope you get to read it one day. Did you ever read Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God? I read it about 30 years ago and loved it then. Just enjoy reading! Stop by and visit some time!

  4. My husband is a chemist who eschews reading, and he was aghast that I hadn’t read Malcolm X (because even HE’S read it). I loved Staceyann Chin’s book and her work in general; she’s magnificent. My reading quest is going well so far. I’ll definitely go looking for Malcolm X on my next trip to the library! 🙂

  5. Malcolm X is incredibly easy to read and digestible. It must be as my son read it avidly (it was a huge influence on him) and he is a very slow and unenthusiastic reader unfortunately. It IS also really one that stays in your thoughts for a very, very long time… Staceyann Chin is Jamaican (the island where I live) … I hope you get to reading at least one of your “missed it” books soon!

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