The Five Best Summer Books to Add to the Reading List
Tierra Taylor

Whether you’re planning to take a staycation, make a trip abroad or luxuriate by the pool at your hotel, here are some pleasurable reading options. 


Bet on Black

Kimberla Lawson Roby has become as dependable to readers as Paul Lynde was as the center box, back in the day on The Hollywood Squares. The Rockford, Illinois, native returns to familiar terrain with A Sinful Calling: A Reverend Curtis Black Novel (Grand Central Publishing, $26). This go-round, she focuses on Dillon Whitfield Black, the secret son of reformed pastor Curtis, who tears the family apart when he starts his own 1,000-plus-member church.

Down & Dirty

Let me apologize for being late to get on the De’nesha Diamond express. The author of such street-lit potboilers as Boss Divas (Kensington) is back in fine form with Queen Divas (Kensington, $15). Set in Memphis, Queen hinges its plot on the shoulders of Ta’Shara, a good girl gone bad; Cleo, who is determined to break away from her controlling man; and police captain Hydeya Hawkins, who is trying in vain to escape the endless corruption in her department. Warning: You may want to add a shot of something strong to your sweet tea when sitting down with this one.


11 Books By Black Authors to Add to Your Summer Reading List


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Easy Street

Have you been keeping up with Walter Mosley’s ace detective Easy Rawlins? In 2014’s Rose Gold (Doubleday), the L.A.-based sleuth hit the jackpot when he searched for and found a kidnapped heiress. Now, in Charcoal Joe (Doubleday, $26.95), Easy is ready to settle down with Bonnie Shay, his girlfriend. Trouble comes when a dead body turns up in Redondo Beach and all hell breaks loose. Mosley, like a fine vintage wine, only gets better as time marches on. This, his fourteenth “case” with Easy, is just as compelling as his first Rawlins yarn. Then too, he captures the angst of mid-1950’s racial tensions with a knowing depth and realism. Bravo!

Redemption Song

You may have already heard about Shaka Senghor’s extraordinary true-life story. Growing up in middle-class Detroit in the 1980’s, he dreamed of becoming a doctor. Through a series of unfortunate life choices, he ended up in prison at 19 for murder. Proving that there are second chances, Senghor found solace in putting his thoughts to paper. Today, the community activist has transformed many lives with his message. Reading the exceptional Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison (Convergent Books, $25), you will reconsider everything you’ve ever thought about poverty, the prison industrial complex and the connection between the two.

The Comeback

Tia Williams’s The Perfect Find (Brown Girls Books, $16) has a good price and a great plot. This delightful book places readers in the broken heels of Jenna Jones. The former It girl fashion editor has fallen on hard times. At 40, Jones wants to have a baby, plump up her bank account and make a comeback in the ultracompetitive style and beauty world. Hired by a former nemesis to bring more eyes and attention to her Web site, our adorable heroine finds herself battling with millennials half her age and fighting a dangerous attraction to the gorgeous Eric Combs, who threatens to upend her uphill rise back to the top.


Follow ESSENCE Editorial Projects Director Patrik Henry Bass on Twitter @PATRIKSPICKS.

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