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Winter Reading: Books To Curl Up With

Wintertime is the perfect reason to curl up with a good book. Here are some you might want to consider.

What’s Cooking?

When two renowned chefs get together magic happens. That is what iconic chef and former opera singer Alexander Smalls and James Beard-nominated chef JJ Johnson have done with their new cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day, which pays tribute to the food and cultural importance of Harlem and the Afro-Asian diaspora. “The Asian diaspora has crisscrossed the African diaspora, throughout history and, most powerfully, on the plate. I’ve traveled the world eating and studying, cooking and exploring. The cookbook you are holding in your hands is about digging deep into our American heritage and setting the table with simple ingredients and bold flavors, presented in an entirely new way,” explains Smalls. Adds Johnson, “Everything in this book tastes good with everything. Every sauce in this book will be equally delicious whether you throw it on chicken or beef, a bowl of rice or a platter of grilled vegetables…However you choose to use this book, we hope you’ll dive in with an open heart and a hungry belly.”

Ducksoup: The Wisdom of Simple Cooking” by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill has been called “ jazz for cooking.” This book, which is not only filled with tasty recipes it is also good to look at, not only has instructions on certain recipes but leads you into how to improvise for other creations.

Stories To Tell

This is not only a great book to add to your collection but also one to give as a gift. The Annotated African American Folktales by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar retells nearly 150 African-American folktales, myths, and legends. They are accompanied by about 200 full-color, museum-quality images.

The Music’s Got Me: Blues & Hip Hop

Music lovers will want to delve right into The Art of the Blues: A Visual Treasury of Black Music’s Golden Age by journalist and historian Bill Dahl. Like the Blues, this book tells a fascinating and vivid story using album covers, posters, flyers, 78 rpm  (remember them?)labels, advertising, or other promotional materials and even hard-to-find label designs from labels, from Columbia Records to Rhumboogie Recordings.

Being a women reared on hip hop growing up in up in South Jamaica, Queens, NY, I was so excited to get my hands on Hip Hop Raised Me by DJ Semtex, Marium Raja. It is jammed pack with info and you can mull over it for hours. You find contact sheets, outtakes, and glory shots of artists, collectives, and fans from renowned photographers. Included are interviews with hip-hop artists from the 1990s to today, conducted at key moments in their careers and including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Drake, Nicki Minaj, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, and the Wu-Tang Clan.

Real Life

Rabbit by Patricia Williams tells of her extraordinary, interesting, and inspiring life. Williams grew up in the inner city of Atlanta and was raised in a family of alcoholics and hustlers. And the  art of hustling was passed on to her: her mother, in fact, showed her how to steal from drunks when Williams was merely eight.  “Rabbit” was Williams nickname, given to her by a teacher.  While the book goes through her struggles, there is humor and much light in the reading.


About the Author

Ann is a freelance writer who started her professional career at the NY Trend more than two decades ago. Ann has since gone on to write for a number of major outlets including: Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire, Pathfinders, Frequent Flier, Playboy, The Source, Girl, Upscale, For Harriet, The Network Journal, AFKInsider, Africa Strictly Business, AFKTravel, among others.

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