When a person decides to take pen to paper to write a book, it is a major undertaking. Writing and getting my first book, Billion Dollar Winner, both finished and published was no easy task. Even writing this column is not a simple feat. Fifty-two times a year, I have to write something that people will read and either agree or disagree with me.
I became an avid reader as a young child. I can still remember checking out the maximum number of books from the library and trudging home with them. I read books that took me to places that I had never been to and allowed my imagination to run wild.
I can still remember being in high school and asking a white teacher about finding a black author other than James Baldwin to read, and he told me they didn’t exist. I don’t think he said it out of malice, but more because he was as ignorant of the subject as I. Thankfully, as I got older, I learned there were other authors, and I still covet books that are written about the black experience.
In the course of writing my own book, I have come across a number of published and aspiring. If you are still one of the people who erroneously believe that black people don’t like to read, well the Chicago Read-In held Saturday would have dispelled that notion. There wasn’t an empty seat in the auditorium; seeing so many people of all ages come out to enjoy the entire program was fantastic.
I want to share with you two books that I have read this past summer that you might enjoy. The first is The Awakening of Khufu by Les Lester, published by Kanefer Books. The premise of the book is fascinating. Professor James Hannibal III is a research scientist who works with DNA. While many of his peers spent their college years being black activists, he focused on becoming a geneticist.
Years later, he is being feted for his accomplishments in the field of DNA sequencing and memory prints. His accomplishments not only bring him accolades in the scientific community, but attract the attention of the government of Egypt, which approaches him with the most fascinating of all offers. They will provide him with a fully staffed laboratory and a single cell from Pharaoh Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza, in order to bring him back to life in the 21st century.
I found the book fascinating for a variety of reasons. First, I enjoy reading any book where the characters are black, but not stuck in the baby-mama-drama or in-between-the-sheets melodrama. I want to read about black people doing anything other than drugs, gang-banging or any of the other negative stereotypical behavior that has become far too often the basis of black literature.
This book also has a Chicago connection. The main character lives here. It is strangely very satisfying to be able to read books about streets and neighborhoods that I am familiar with and to picture them in my mind as I read.
It makes me want to go to Chicago State University and see if Professor Hannibal is really there, making scientific discoveries. It was also interesting to imagine what today’s world would look like to an Egyptian pharaoh brought back to life, seeing all of our modern technology. The pyramids represented the best that society had to offer, so to imagine the main character flying in a plane or talking on a cellphone is mind-boggling.
The second book I enjoyed this summer is of a completely different genre – Whose Man Is This by Pastor Kathy A.E. Jones (no relation) and published by KAJ DJ Publishing. The book is a source of inspiration and includes guidelines to help women find the man of their dreams using biblical scriptures and principals.
As a single woman, I am looking to meet the man God wants me to spend the rest of my life with. Pastor Jones’ book gives excellent advice as well as references to scripture to embrace as I continue on that journey.
Finally, my book, Billion Dollar Winner, tells the story of a Chicagoan, West Sider and community activist who was the biggest protestor against the lottery games. The grand prize of a new lottery game, Lotto-50, grows to $1 billion. My main character comes to possess the winning ticket. All of Chicago gets upset when they find out it was she who won, but especially West Siders.
I will be doing another book signing on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Woodson Library, 95th and Halsted from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. I am planning several events on the West Side and will keep you informed via this column. If you want to reach me to get a copy of my book, or have me out to your group event, you reach me at 773-622-3863.