In her new offering, More Than Pretty: Doing the Soul Work That Uncovers Your True Beauty (Howard, $26), Grammy-winning gospel singer, BET Sunday Best judge and nationally syndicated radio host Erica Campbell explores an array of issues, from social media and self-esteem to colorism and infidelity.
Far from being preachy, Campbell is candid about some of the challenges she’s faced, including growing up on welfare, sharing a bedroom with five sisters and living through her parents getting divorced and remarried three times.
“Writing this was so therapeutic for me,” the Los Angeles native reveals. “I remember where I was emotionally as a young girl. Reliving some major mistakes and heartbreaks was crazy, but even the crazy things have had a purpose.”
The married mother of three hopes More Than Pretty helps others move past their own pain to live their best lives.
“I pray that this book is a tool for women to start asking necessary questions. Knowing why we feel certain emotions is important. Doing soul work helps you understand why you feel a certain way. Whether it’s frustration, disappointment, anger or even good emotions like joy, love and happiness, knowing is key.”
What happens when we have to deal with the unfamiliar? That’s the question posed by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell in Talking to Strangers (Little, Brown, $30). In his first book in six years, Gladwell, who also hosts the Revisionist History podcast, examines public scandals, pop culture and heartbreaking events such as the death of Sandra Bland.
Mama Got Her Groove Back
Contemporary romance’s hot new voice, Jasmine Guillory, is back with Royal Holiday (Berkley, $20). This delightful yarn, inspired by Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, whisks readers away to England, where American Vivian Forest embarks on a fun fling with suave Brit Malcolm Hudson during the Christmas season.
“Tell di gal fi go find her pickni rightful puppa and stop call George name.” Jamaican patois is just part of what animates A Tall History of Sugar (Akashic, $28.95) by Howard University professor Curdella Forbes, who centers her memorable novel around a folktale of soul mates Moshe Fisher and Arrienne Christie. An adult Arrienne narrates the mysterious Caribbean fantasy.
Acclaimed writer Zadie Smith presents her first short story collection in Grand Union (Penguin Press, $27). Through 11 new works and some of her bestloved features from The New Yorker and elsewhere, Smith unpacks cultural nuances as she dives into topics ranging from first love to depression, delivering something for everyone.
Laugh Out Loud
Comedian Akilah Hughes makes her literary debut in Obviously: Stories From My Timeline (Razorbill, $17.99). In this essay collection the YouTuber details her journey from a rural town in Kentucky to Brooklyn and shares personal anecdotes about dealing with racism, struggling with weight issues and navigating Hollywood.