The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
As a society, there are people whom we regularly ignore. Morrison brings you close to these people. Close enough to touch and be touched. Moving, riveting, maddening, glorious stuff.
The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
Take the longer route the next time you get the hankering to watch the ’72 Coppola classic; it is every bit as rewarding. The central and abiding lesson in the novel is about friendship. It’ll stick with you.
A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle
Picked it up a decade ago. It is the book I’ve reread more times than any other, responsible for lasting and substantive change in my life.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Found my Dad’s old copy in the basement when I was in seventh grade. I’ve read it many times since. It’s always a pleasure spending a few days learning from brother Malcolm. You can feel the depth of his care and his sincere hope for your survival in every page. If he wasn’t a friend and a hero before you started reading, you’ll have to make some room for him.
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You, by Nancy Tillman
Our favorite to read little our Lucille at bedtime. A meditation on mama and dada’s boundless forever love.
In My Father’s House: Poems, by John Hodgen
My favorite book of poetry. Hodgen makes the ordinary and the plain profound again and again. We all struggle to come up with the words to attach to our grief, our confusion, our losses. Hodgen is not immune to the plight. You can feel and appreciate the effort. He wrestles each of the ingenious little masterpieces from the struggle and the search.
Letters to a Young Artist, by Anna Deavere Smith
I watch everything she does. I read everything she writes. My favorite artist walking the planet. Watch her Notes From the Field on HBO. Pick up her inspiring letters to a young artist immediately afterward. She never disappoints.
I Knew You’d Be Lovely, by Alethea Black
I heard a smart person say once that short stories were the ideal form to receive and integrate information. Whether it’s completely true or not, the idea has stayed with me, and if you were trying to argue the point, I Knew You’d Be Lovely, could be held up as exhibit A. Emotionally, no work(s) of fiction ever moved me more thoroughly.