Off The Shelf

Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan  (March/April 2011)

Honor YourselfHonoryourself
The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving
Embracing the Power of Paradox in Your Life

A 2010 nautilus book award winner and a 2010 national indie excellence award winner!
Honor yourself: the inner art of giving and receiving by patricia spadaro exposes myths about giving and receiving that can sabotage relationships, finances, career, even your health—without you knowing it.

“We have a duty not just to give to others, but to give to ourselves – and to see ourselves as worthy of receiving.” – Spadaro. With candor, compassion, spadaro shares empowering ways to move beyond those myths to the magic of balanced, authentic living. Honor yourself skillfully guides us through how to balance what others need with what we need, and how to give and to receive through practical tips: giving with the heart rather than the head; using feelings to stay true to yourself; learning when to seek support or fly solo; finding your own voice; and honoring endings. Three wings press.

BrainwashedBrainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority By Tom Burrell
“Black people are not dark-skinned white people,” says advertising legend Tom Burrell. In fact, they are much more. They are survivors of the middle passage and centuries of humiliation and deprivation, who have excelled against the odds, constantly making a way out of “no way!” At this pivotal point in history, the idea of black inferiority should have had a “going-out-of-business sale.” After all, Barack Obama has reached America’s promised land.

Brainwashed the basic question of why, over 140 years after the emancipation proclamation, so many blacks still think like slaves. Brainwashed is a masterful examination of why we still think so little of ourselves, why our grandmothers still put their savings in a special offering plate to help pay for the pastor’s new luxury automobile, why our children answer when called ‘ho’ and ‘nigga’ and why we choose to critically explore these issues.

ZaneLove is Never Painless By Zane
Zane, an international bestselling author, presents a trio of compelling novellas about love, passion, loss, addiction and hope for redemption.

In Eileen M. Johnson’s “How the Other Half Lives,” Jamellah and Fernecia have been friends since forever. Having escaped the poverty of their youth together, they both had made their mark in society. However, men problems threaten to make them literally fall apart. Fernecia is married to a man who was raised to think he is better than everyone—even his own wife. Jamellah has always used men to get ahead but eventually everything catches up to her. The two friends must ultimately count on each other in a world of havoc and distrust.

Jim CrowXthe New Jim Crow:
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
By Michelle Alexander

Now that the bloom has fallen off the rose of the obama administration, most black folks are beginning to wake up to the fact that his election isn’t about to turn the country into a post-racial utopia any time soon. To the contrary, attorney Michelle Alexander argues that in recent decades America has increasingly, and ever so subtly, adopted a color-coded caste system where minorities are targeted, stigmatized and marginalized by the criminal justice system.

Alexander, a professor of law at Ohio State University, makes her very persuasive case in this scathing indictment of the widespread practice of selective enforcement of draconian drug laws. Ostensibly, the aim of the U.S. Government has been not only to warehouse masses of African-American males behind bars, but to relegate them permanently to a subordinate stratum of society even after they’re paroled.

If the author holds out any hope for our future, it rests in raising the country’s collective consciousness about the role the apartheid-like legal system plays in perpetuating oppression along the color line.

 Getting to Happy by Terry McMillan (November/December 2010)

Getting to Happy by Terry McMillanIt’s been fifteen years since we were introduced to Robin, Savannah, Gloria and Bernadine, the four 30-something women of Waiting to Exhale. Why the long wait? Well, McMillan has been through a lot. She’s weathered a lengthy divorce, spurred by the revelation that her husband is gay and a lawsuit concerning a potentially reputation-damaging phone message. Happily, everything is resolved and we can catch up with the ladies.

Now, they are 50-somethings and are being forced to start their lives over, each for different reasons. Robin, single mother to teenage Sparrow, has become a shopaholic. Savannah is bored with her husband Isaac, and thinks being single sounds unexpectedly appealing. Gloria is blissfully happy in her marriage to Marvin and though Bernadine has remarried a man named James, things may not be as perfect as they seem.

The value of friendship, faith in one another, and hope transcends all as they help each other through hot flashes, heart attacks, internet porn, grandkids, job loss and so much more.

Reviewed by Jacki Potratz, fiction book selector for the Milwaukee Public Library.

Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coalpot by Susan Peters(November/December 2010)

In the 1970’s when Black Pride was at its height, many African Americans embraced their roots in Mother Africa by changing their hairstyles, their names, their way of dressing but continued to live in the United States. Thousands more took their identification with Mother Africa a step further and amidst chants of America, love it or leave it- they left it! Many immigrated to welcoming countries in East and West Africa. Susan Peters was one of them.

Sweet LiberiaSweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot is a delightful, easy to read memoir that chronicles the wonderfully thick slice of humanity sandwiched between Liberia’s April 12, 1980 coup and the Civil War, in 1989. Set against the author’s personal growth, her cultural struggles and triumphs, this book is an informative, personally revealing, inspiring and often-comical account of her family’s 11-year journey immersed in the rich culture of Liberia, West Africa.

Susan vividly recalls “A sunny day… and watching a fragile looking woman carrying bags of coal on her head. Covered in filthy coal dust, her grimy skin glistened from moving coal all day in the blistering sun. She did not weigh more than 90 lbs, but through her muscular neck easily carried three times her weight. Her sweat, her filth, the weight of her load and her determination to bear it brought her to tears. “She was both pitiful and powerful; every woman reading knows exactly what I mean. It is women like her that globally continue to raise womanhood to higher heights each day as we carry our burdens in dignity, strength and sometimes in fear.”

Twenty years ago, she fled Liberia with her children. Leaving behind a war characterized as, “The bloodiest Civil War since the Biafran War in 1967.” Now, as Liberia stands on the precipice of regaining its place among the world’s civilized nations under the leadership of Africa’s first elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Susan feels passionately that it is time to talk about the wisdom, beauty and resiliency she witnessed during her eleven year sojourn. Simply put, the Universe is saying it’s time!

Susan Peters
Susan Peters

Susan Peters, aka, Ahnydah (pronounced ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a treasure trove of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa, to her memoir, Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot. Her sojourn began during a 1978 vacation to Liberia and Ghana. She returned in 1979 with her family in 1982, and remained in Liberia for 11 years until 1990 when Liberia’s escalating Civil War finally forced her to flee for her life.

During her “Liberian Years,” as she fondly refers to them, she worked for the Liberian National Red Cross Society in positions ranging from health educator, Director of Red Cross Day Care Center and Kindergarten and fundraiser. In January 1989, she left the Red Cross and, with a Liberian partner, opened First Steps, Child Development Center. Unfortunately, by May she and her partner closed their fledgling business, due to the encroaching war. “Throughout my stay in Liberia, I learned personal life lessons by peeking objectively at the lives of my Liberian sisters and seeing my own face reflected.”

Susan is the mother of five children, three born in Liberia. She currently manages community relations medical center in Chicago. Susan is anxiously polishing her next work, Broken Dolls, a work of contemporary fiction and suspense. | |

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS is a thoroughly investigated invaluable lesson on the need to be proactive in your personal medical treatment. The book’s jacket warns … Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa.
She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells have earned her a prominent place in medical history. HeLa, the name given her cells, became one of the most important tools in modern medicine. HeLa are the first “immortal” human cells that would not die and are grown in cultures around the world today. Henrietta Lacks ‘cells are still alive today though she has been dead for more than sixty years. Scientists agree that if you could pile all HeLa ever grown onto a scale, they would weigh more than 50 million metric tons – as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings.

HeLa cells were vital for perfecting countless history altering medications. They were instrumental in perfecting the vaccine for polio, uncovering secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects on human cells. Important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping also relied on HeLa. Billions of HeLa cells have been bought and sold. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave and her direct descendants struggle with poverty.

The seed for author, Rebecca Skloot’s curiosity about HeLa were planted in a junior high school science class. Her passion to investigate HeLa and share her findings was ignited in college. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS takes readers on an extraordinary journey from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s – to laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells – from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia, a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo – to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. Although HeLa cells have generated billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies, Henrietta Lacks family never saw a penny of these profits.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Karen Greco says:

    I highly recommend this book. A fascinating and well written story with excellent scientific explanations.

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