The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring by Sugar Ray Leonard with Michael Arkush—For the first time, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard gives an account of his life outside of the ring in this introspective biography. Leonard candidly shares his struggles with drug addiction, depression and rage as he fought his way to the top of the boxing world. Poignant and honest, it offers another interesting glimpse into the life of a legend.
The Maintenance Man II by Michael Baisden- Whoo boy, those of us who were swept away in the maelstrom that the Maintenance Man created have been patiently waiting for author turned radio host, Michael Baisden to release a follow up. This summer, he's answered your request. After years of being out of the gigolo lifestyle, Malcom has to rebuild his list of contacts and clientele. But when he and one high-end client, Alex Nelson, the wife of a corrupt U.S. Senator are suspected of knowing too much about a billion-dollar business deal, Malcolm needs his military training and street smarts to get his life back. Shaft meets the Bourne Identity in this breezy beach read.
Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan—A modern classic by one of the most distinctive voices of this generation, Terry McMillan's make-up, break-up relationship novel Disappearing Act is one of her best, most definitive works to date. Focusing on Zora Banks and Franklin Swift and their love story, which is emotionally abusive at its worse and unconditionally loving at its best, the novel takes a peek into the real life dramas that surround and define relationships that are not always fairytale. You probably won't be able to put this one down until you're finished, so make sure you slather on the suntan lotion before heading to the beach for a "quick" read.
Road Trip Warrior Reading
Blackberry Days of Summer by Ruth Watson—Exploring the African-American experience during the Jim Crow era, the historical novel by Ruth Watson covers everything from the importance of education in the 1920s and what it meant for the quality of life for blacks in the South to mental health concerns in the community. Brimming with tension and ripe with discussion-heavy topics, this is perfect reading for that extra-long road trip.
The Spook Who Sat By the Door by Sam Greenlee—This classic novel-turned-movie about a black man hired to be a token CIA employee who eventually uses his learned knowledge to lead a massive uprising is a tightly woven story that demands an emotional response. A perfect read for that long road trip to visit your relatives.
King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild—A nonfiction account of the atrocities committed in the Congo region by the King of Belgium in the 1800s, this book reads more like page-turning fiction. With prose that is engaging and conversational, Adam Hochschild's account of Belgium's exploitation of the Congo for its rubber resources is informative, heart-wrenching and maddening in the same breath. A great read for anyone interested in getting a real, detailed snippet of a history too often forgotten.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou—It doesn't get much more classic than this autobiography of the life of renowned poet, activist and thinker, Maya Angelou. Detailing her life growing up in Stamps, Arkansas, the book is more than a coming-of-age story, but a classic piece of literature that details literacy, rape and racism and what's more, how to rise above the adversities and fly free of societies' and people's restrictions. With the grace to turn heavy subjects into light, digestible fare, Caged Bird is easily one of Angelou's most triumphant successes.
Lazy Summer Day Reading
The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker—No, there isn't a hidden code in the title; this is really a book chronicling award-winning writer/poet Alice Walker's time raising chickens. However, in true Walker style, the book is hypnotic, inspirational and off-beat enough to capture readers' attention with ease. So go for it and break a leg, er, egg.
Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture, and Creed by Christelyn D. Karazin and Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn—Like it or not, interracial dating still remains a hot-button topic in modern-day America, though since the election of President Obama, the discussion has shifted to more focused territory. In this first-ever handbook on navigating the tricky terrain of interracial dating with quirky anecdotes, personal references and expert tips on how to make the often bumpy ride smoother, Swirling is a fun, informative read for all of the ladies interested in getting their Kerry Washington, Halle Berry or Zoe Saladana on. Let the dating games begin.
And Then Life Happens: A Memoir by Auma Obama—President Obama's sister, Auma Obama, shares her interesting life story living as the Kenyan sister of America's first black president. Chronicling her life from early childhood to her time in America and first meeting her famous brother, Auma's story is both empowering and revealing.