Friday, May 18, 2012

In Search of Satisfaction

One of the challenges of being a book blogger is finding books that interest you enough to want to talk about them.  Some books are just blah and I have a hard time stringing together enough words to interest others in reading them.  Some books blow me away and I have a hard time organizing my thoughts enough to get the words out in a coherent fashion.  Lately, I feel like I'm reading more blah books and not enough "shiver me timbers" books.

As much as I read as a kid, the college bookstore opened up a whole new world of authors for me.  While other students charged sweatshirts to their student accounts, I was charging books.  It was there that I discovered Maya Angelou beyond I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; Gloria Naylor; and the Terry McMillan edited anthology, Breaking Ice.

There was an overabundance of good work and good authors in the nineties.  The shelves at The Knowledge Center, the neighborhood bookstore, overflowed with books by Barbara Neeley, Bebe Moore Campbell, J. California Cooper and Lolita Files.  When my budget couldn't keep up with all of the good books, the library of  the mid-nineties through 2005 or so gave me Grace F. Edwards, April Sinclair, Tina McElroy Ansa, Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Dawn Turner Trice, Tananarive Due, Lorene Cary, Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant. 

Today I can walk in and pick up (or download from home) books by Bernice McFadden, Ernessa T. Carter, Martha Southgate, Mary Monroe, Tayari Jones, Carleen Brice, Beverly Jenkins, Michele Grant, Aliya S. King and Danielle Evans.  Do you notice how much shorter that list is in comparison to what awaited me just ten years ago? Yes, there's a flood of self-published and/or street lit authors, but where are the quality writers of the future?  Some of the authors of 20 years ago continue to write, but I worry about who will replace them.  I don't doubt that there are plenty of good writers waiting in the wing, but I do worry that publishers won't give them a chance to be heard.

Last year saw books like Silver Sparrow, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self and If Sons Then Heirs.  This year has brought Gathering of Waters, Home and The Cutting Season (okay, the last one doesn't come out until October, but trust me, you're going to love it), but when I look at the publisher's summer, fall and winter catalogs, I don't see a lot coming down the pipeline by writers that I'm interested in reading. Knowing what authors and books I enjoy, who do you recommend I read? What authors have I overlooked in the past that I should give another glance?  If all of the good books are already read, what do I read next?

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