Every now and then we like to switch it up, and offer a few Non-Fiction book recommendations.
We like to refer to these notable recommendations, as Books for the Culture. Most times written by authors of color or black celebrities, these books provide another perspective and sometime inspiration for everyday life.
Keep reading to view our full list, including some more recent releases.
Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me By Charlamagne Tha God
Fear is holding you back. It’s time to turn the tables and channel your fears to actually fuel your success.
Being “shook” is more than a rap lyric for Charlamagne, it’s his mission to overcome. While it may seem like he’s ahead of the game, he is actually plagued by anxieties, such as the fear of losing his roots, the fear of being a bad dad, and the fear of being a terrible husband. Shook One chronicles his journey to beat those fears and shows a path that you too can take to overcome the anxieties that may be holding you back.
Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves By Glory Edim
An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.
Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay remind us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her book club–turned–online community Well-Read Black Girl, in this anthology Glory Edim has created a space in which black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world and ourselves. Click here to buy.
Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay By Phoebe Robinson
New York Times bestselling author and star of 2 Dope Queens Phoebe Robinson is back with a new, hilarious, and timely essay collection on gender, race, dating, and the dumpster fire that is our world.
Written in her trademark unfiltered and witty style, Robinson’s latest collection is a call to arms. Outfitted with on-point pop culture references, these essays tackle a wide range of topics: giving feminism a tough-love talk on intersectionality, telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks, and calling foul on our culture’s obsession with work. Robinson also gets personal, exploring money problems she’s hidden from her parents, how dating is mainly a warmed-over bowl of hot mess, and definitely most important, meeting Bono not once, but twice. She’s struggled with being a woman with a political mind and a woman with an ever-changing jeans size. She knows about trash because she sees it every day–and because she’s seen roughly one hundred thousand hours of reality TV and zero hours of Schindler’s List.
With the intimate voice of a new best friend, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay is a candid perspective for a generation that has had the rug pulled out from under it too many times to count. Click here to buy.
She Begat This: 20 Years of the Miseducation on Lauryn Hill By Joan Morgan
Celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed and influential debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with this eye-opening and moving exploration of Lauryn Hill and her remarkable artistic legacy.
Released in 1998, Lauryn Hill’s first solo album is often cited by music critics as one of the most important recordings in modern history. Artists from Beyoncé to Nicki Minaj to Janelle Monáe have claimed it as an inspiration, and it was recently included in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, as well as named the second greatest album by a woman in history by NPR (right behind Joni Mitchell’s Blue).
Award-winning feminist author and journalist Joan Morgan delivers an expansive, in-depth, and heartfelt analysis of the album and its enduring place in pop culture. She Begat This is both an indelible portrait of a magical moment when a young, fierce, and determined singer-rapper-songwriter made music history and a crucial work of scholarship, perfect for longtime hip-hop fans and a new generation of fans just discovering this album. Click here to buy.
So Close to Being The Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know By Retta
In her hilarious book of essays, Parks and Recreation star Retta shares the stories that led to her success in Hollywood.
In So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, Parks and Recreation star Retta takes us on her not-so-meteoric rise from roaches to riches (well, rich enough that she can buy $15,000 designer handbags yet scared enough to know she’s always a heartbeat away from ramen with American cheese).
Whether reminiscing about her days as a contract chemist at GlaxoSmithKline, telling “dirty” jokes to Mormons, feeling like the odd man out on Parks, fending off racist trolls on Twitter, flirting with Michael Fassbender, or expertly stalking the cast of “Hamilton,” Retta’s unique voice and refreshing honesty will make you laugh, cry, and laugh so hard you’ll cry.
Her eponymous sitcom might not have happened yet, but by the end of So Close to Being the Sh*t, you’ll be rooting for Retta to be the next one-named wonder to take over your television. And she just might inspire you to reach for the stars, too. Click here to buy.
Creative Quest By Questlove
A unique new guide to creativity from Questlove—inspirations, stories, and lessons on how to live your best creative life. Questlove—musician, bandleader, designer, producer, culinary entrepreneur, professor, and all-around cultural omnivore—shares his wisdom on the topics of inspiration and originality in a one-of-a-kind guide to living your best creative life.
In Creative Quest, Questlove synthesizes all the creative philosophies, lessons, and stories he’s heard from the many creators and collaborators in his life, and reflects on his own experience, to advise readers and fans on how to consider creativity and where to find it.
He addresses many topics—what it means to be creative, how to find a mentor and serve as an apprentice, the wisdom of maintaining a creative network, coping with critics and the foibles of success, and the specific pitfalls of contemporary culture—all in the service of guiding admirers who have followed his career and newcomers not yet acquainted with his story. Creative Quest is many things—above all, a wise and wide-ranging conversation around the eternal mystery of creativity. Click here to buy.
Well That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist By Franchesca Ramsey
In this sharp, funny, and timely collection of personal essays, veteran video blogger and star of MTV’s Decoded Franchesca Ramsey explores race, identity, online activism, and the downfall of real communication in the age of social media rants, trolls, and call-out wars.
In her first book, Ramsey uses her own experiences as an accidental activist to explore the many ways we communicate with each other–from the highs of bridging gaps and making connections to the many pitfalls that accompany talking about race, power, sexuality, and gender in an unpredictable public space…the internet.
Well That Escalated Quickly, includes Ramsey’s advice on dealing with internet trolls and low-key racists, confessions about being a former online hater herself, and her personal hits and misses in activist debates with everyone from bigoted Facebook friends and misguided relatives to mainstream celebrities and YouTube influencers. With sharp humor and her trademark candor, Ramsey shows readers we can have tough conversations that move the dialogue forward, rather than backward, if we just approach them in the right way. Click here to buy.
Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love and Success
A game-changing book for professional women on how to navigate love and career from relationship expert Charreah Jackson.
Essence Senior Editor and international dating & career coach Charreah K. Jackson answers the never-ending question for women: Is it truly possible to have your dream career and be part of a fulfilling, satisfying, lasting romantic relationship? In this relatable, entertaining, and confessional guide, Charreah weaves through the complicated world of dating and career, showing YOU how to be a Boss Bride.
With advice ranging from dating like a pro and how to go hard AND go home, Charreah gives you the insight and inspiration to become a Boss Bride – a powerful woman who manages the many roles in her life with pride and enthusiasm, demands her worth, lives in the moment, and prioritizes love. Packed with tips, tricks, strategies, and testimonies from women across America, Charreah shows you the path to getting the corner office and walking down the aisle – and how to stay a Boss Bride for life. Click here to buy.
Black Girl Magic!: Owning Our Magic. Rocking Our Truth.
From the award-winning entrepreneur, culture leader, and creator of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! movement comes an inspiring and beautifully designed book that pays tribute to the achievements and contributions of black women around the world.
Fueled by the insights of women of diverse backgrounds, including Michelle Obama, Angela Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Misty Copeland Yara Shahidi, and Mary J. Blige, this book is a celebration of black women’s voices and experiences that will become a collector’s items for generations to come.
Pairing inspirational essays and affirmations with lush, newly commissioned and classic photography, Black Girls Rock!: Owning Our Magic and Rocking Our Truth is not only a one-of-a-kind celebration of the diversity, fortitude, and spirituality of black women but also a foundational text that will energize and empower every reader. Click here to buy.
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower By Brittney Cooper
So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.
Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams such a powerful tennis player. It’s what makes Beyoncé’s girl power anthems resonate so hard. It’s what makes Michelle Obama an icon.
Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. When Cooper learned of her grandmother’s eloquent rage about love, sex, and marriage in an epic and hilarious front-porch confrontation, her life was changed. And it took another intervention, this time staged by one of her homegirls, to turn Brittney into the fierce feminist she is today. In Brittney Cooper’s world, neither mean girls nor fuckboys ever win. But homegirls emerge as heroes. This book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one’s own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again. Click here to buy.
Remember all these books and more can be found on our Urban Bookish Amazon page, within our Curated Lists!