La La Anthony

La La Anthony Gets Brainy on Love

La La’s ‘The Love Playbook’ and six other new books make the cut in this week's Black lit highlights

January 30, 2014


The Love Playbook (Celebra, $24.95) by La La Anthony is one to check for dating advice. Is your usual dating style not working? Take a note from La La’s first book on strategies to help keep you in the game and win the battle of love. Follow this month’s EBONY cover girl on Twitter while you’re at it: @lala.

But if you got all that significant otherness together, and your family of two is growing into three or four or five, definitely read Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life (Spiegel & Grau, $18) by Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson. This married couple is buzzing off their 2013 Sundance-winning documentary American Promise, which covering their son and his friend’s experiences at Manhattan’s prestigious Dalton private school. From chapters on time management to learning styles, Promises Kept covers the basic blueprint of preparing your child for success.

To escape into something juicy and a bit different, read Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani (Penguin, $16). Here, this Guggenheim Fellow for Fiction pushes the envelope style wise. His novel stars a detective with a string of murders to solve and conjoined twins as his main suspects. Hint: one of the twins is really belligerent. 

Less experimental is the strong lean prose of The Secret of Magic (Putnam, $26.95), by Deborah Johnson. This novel is part fiction, part history. In 1946, Thurgood Marshall sends a somewhat green attorney to Mississippi to free a Black man. Who made the request? A reclusive but famous Southern author no one’s seen in years. Throw in some returning African-American soldiers to the segregated South and I see a feature film on the horizon.

If you wonder how the South that lost the Civil War ended up with segregation, you have to read Douglas R. Egerton’s The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era (Bloomsbury, $29.99). He shows us just how difficult it was to be newly free men and women in the South after the Civil War, and how hard Southern Whites fought to keep their racist status quo.

For the Black music lover in you is Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism (W.W. Norton, $39.95) by Thomas Brothers. This musicologist continues where his previous book (Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans) ends, as Armstrong moves to Chicago and deals with life in the big city while playing with different styles of music. The personal accounts woven into the narrative really create a work for jazz initiates and enthusiasts alike, as well as anyone interested in 1920s America.

Ghana Must Go (Penguin, $16) by Taiye Selasie is out in paperback this week. If you didn’t check out the hardcover, then dive into this easier-transported version. It’s set in Ghana as an elder passes and the family come from around the world to pay respects, remembering how things were and making peace and amends.

—Brook Stephenson

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