Thursday, December 04, 2008

Beyond FUN: Buy A Book by A Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month

Fellow Denver novelist and blogger Carleen Brice recently added master book marketer to her list of achievements with her new blog, White Readers Meet Black Authors. Designed to encourage readers of works by black authors to help spread the word about the gems tucked away in African-American sections of certain chain bookstores, White Readers Meet Black Authors links to articles and essays on cross-selling books by black authors and to blogs and sites of interest to those in love with—or just discovering—books by black authors. WRMBA is so trendy it was listed as a December 8 “Brilliant High-Brow” pick on the New York Magazine Approval Matrix. Talk about a nifty plug!

I’ve got a slew of new titles to add to my to-read list from discussions generated by WRMBA. Aside from Toni Morrison books, The Known World by Edward P. Jones, James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God, and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are among my all-time favorite classics. The fact they were written by black authors relegates them and many other notable titles to a certain section of some bookstores, however, limiting their appeal and availability to some readers. I agree with Carleen that such readers are MISSING OUT. And I look forward to taking up her challenge of buying books by black authors and giving them as gifts to non-black readers. Carleen’s Orange Mint & Honey has already been enjoyed by my neighborhood book club, but I have a certain sister or two (or three or four, come to think of it) who’d love it, too.

But wait, there’s more! Carleen has also teamed up with a few other local creative types to produce a video that STARS (!!!!) (ok, I have three lines) yours truly!! I’m the grinning-like-a-fool white-white lady pictured next to Naomi Horii (founding editor and publisher of the fantabulous Boulder-based literary journal Many Mountains Moving) on the static cover frame (see it here) of the YouTube video entitled Buy A Book by A Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black. The video was produced by Carleen in honor of National Buy A Book by A Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month. Catchy, huh?

While Carleen notes on her WRMBA post regarding the recently launched/sure-to-be-Oscar-nominated video that no non-black people were hurt during the filming, I have to say I did pull a muscle from laughing so hard when Kieran Nelson rehearsed her part. The last shot of Carleen, Naomi, Kieran, and Denver book promotion specialist Bella Stander cracking up is my favorite. Since all my fans will surely wonder where the heck I was at that point, suffice to say I had to skip out early for a pressing engagement. If you’re guessing I had to meet with my agent to work out a deal with a pesky Hollywood director, feel free.

Meanwhile, if you’re running out of original gift-giving ideas, feel free to follow Carleen’s lead. Buy A Book by a Black Author and Give it To Someone Not Black. If you’re unsure how such an inspired gift will be received, send along a link to Carleen’s video. They’ll soon agree with everyone’s favorite Black Book Section Lady: Unity tastes good!


Blogger Carleen Brice said...

Great post!!! Thanks so much for participating. Those couple of hours working on this sure were fun, weren't they??

2:02 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

OMG! The video cracked me up. Seriously. I don't get people who won't read a book because of the author's skin color, nationality, etc. How stupid is THAT!?

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I must depart with you slightly here. As a preface, I'll say that I usually don't know the "race" of the author of books I read, and don't care.

So, yes, black authors deserve to be read (if they've written something worth reading), but not because they are black.

On a slightly different topic, I have hit a real doldrums in finding novels to read, and have turned, horrors, to non-fiction.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

VERY fun, Carleen!

Hi, Niksmom! It is a funny video; I doubt most people consciously discriminate against authors, but many aren't aware of what's available outside what they normally read, you know?

Hi, Gerry! I completely agree with your point about all authors who write good books deserving to be read simply because they write good books. Carleen's goal is to encourage those who might hesitate to read books labeled a certain way to give them a try. She's also aware a big part of the problem is the marketing angle taken for certain books by publishers and some booksellers. Hopefully that'll change soon!

I'm finding the more non-fiction I read these days more I'm drawn to it. So many books...! K.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Cat B said...

Hi Karen! I'm just reading Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father. Of course, I should have read it months ago! It's so finely written with clear insights into himself and the world. It also gives a vivid portrait of a time when less was possible for people of color. It wasn't very long ago.

9:35 AM  
Blogger debra said...

Hmm, I've never considered race---or ethnic origin----when selecting a good read. I've read non-fiction for a long time---still do. I'm reading more fiction now, TBR pile and list just keeps growing.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Barrie said...

What an incredibly creative idea!

10:46 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Cat, you're so right, and you're ahead of me on reading Dreams. For some reason I'm procrastinating on that one...there's always a reason.

Debra, as does mine!

Barrie, it really is a fantastic idea...and a great reminder to support authors of all backgrounds whenever we can. Amazing what they teach us when we do!

3:37 PM  

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