I've Had A Change of Heart...Counting Down the Best Black Books 2004

Friday, December 24, 2004

This week I received an early Christmas gift. Someone is actually reading my blog as I countdown the best and the worst books of the year. I had been thinking about this subject a few days before I received this comment that I will post after weeding through the stack of books that I have read and reviewed this year by Black authors. So I will give a Christmas gift to the authors on my list. I will not countdown the worst...I will highlight the exceptional. Because they really are the ones that deserve the accolades.

Comment from a viewer: "In this age of freedom of speech, I suppose that you can write whatever you'd like. However, I don't see any purpose in what you wish to do here. Ostracizing and ridiculing someone else's life work is, in my humble opinion, a waste of good energy. Instead, promote those books that stand out. And to be honest, most of the reviewers and critics "preying" on black authors do more harm than good. They demand a free book, get to it when they feel good and doggone ready to review it, then think they have to right to slam it to heck just because they are the lofty reviewer."

Thanks for your comment. And I appreciate them. Moreover, I understand your feelings about promoting black authors, as I am an African American book reviewer. Unfortunately, this year for some reason most of the books that have been dropped at my door step have been mediocre to say the least. And the few gems that stood out of the crowd received very little press and accolades. Because our media institutions would rather promote what sells than what is wonderful.

But I also agree with you about my intent for this blog. At first I thought I should flip the script and highlight the worst books written. Since we discuss the worst albums recorded and the worst movies made. Yet, as I have taken all these books off my shelves to list them on this blog, I thought about the author who wrote the book. I thought about the guts it took to write something regardless of how horrible it came out on print. And I applaud the fact that they tried to do something.

Yet, I hope that these authors [they no who they are because they have read my review of their books] would strive to grow as a writer next year. English composition, contrary to popular belief is vital to our society until China takes over. As we pass on to the next world what we write will be left behind for our children. Do we want them to know us at our best or at our worst? Do we want them to understand us and learn from us or be confused and embarrassed? So dear one, I concur with your comment and have changed my mind. I will highlight the best this year, since they didn't receive the press they deserved in the first place.

Thank you for changing my mind.

OT: Let me comment on receiving a book for free. Most books I receive to review are either uncorrected proofs or manuscripts. I rarely receive the actual book. And since we're on the subject of the importance of a book reviewer...Check out my Suite 101 site in January as I discuss the role of the downtrodden black reviewer and why African American books are subject to the American English Canon. The time it takes it break down book, read it and critique deserves more respect from peers and I believe the book reviewer and his/her value is misunderstood. So we will definitely discuss this at the Suite.

I welcome and love to hear comments, so keep them coming. Just as this commenter enlightened me I know I always have room to grow. Let's take Black Literature to the next level.

Any one seeking a quality book review, please check this blog for information on how to submit a book for review. My reviews discusses more than whether I liked the book, but rather whether the book holds under its 5 star parts: character, theme, plot, style, conflict.

Running to see what the end gon' be


2009 ·Dee Stewart by TNB