Working from home during a pandemic is an extreme sport. You’re doing your best to stick to a routine and schedule, not eat the entire refrigerator, and maintain somewhat of a healthy lifestyle even if it’s just walking to the bathroom from the living room. 

If you’re looking to fill some time in the day by giving your brain and laptop a break, try picking up a good book. You can either opt for those books you bought last year that you never picked up or check out some of these below by Memphis-based authors. 

Chocolate Cities: the Black Map of American Life by Zandria Robinson and Marcus Anthony Hunter

For a long time, Washington, D.C. held the title of America’s Chocolate City, being a space where an influx of Black people who migrate live for better opportunities in education and economic prosperity. However, what if the wealth of American history actually lies in the crevices of cities with a wide population of Black Americans? Former Rhodes University professor, Zandria Robinson and Marcus Hunter use film, music, fiction and oral history to trace the Black American experience of race, place and liberation from the Emancipation Proclamation to now. The book makes the case for how people of color have shaped American economic, social and political landscape. 

An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee (Civil Rights and Struggle) by Aram Goudsouzian and Charles McKinney, Jr. 

Aram Goudsouzian and Charles McKinney, Jr. examine Memphis’ role during the Civil Rights Movement in an effort to uplift the city as the epicenter for change it was in the 60s and 70s which is often left out of wider conversations. Touching topics from sports to media, An Unseen Light navigates the lives of Black Memphians during some historic events that shaped the city’s future including the 1940 “Reign of Terror.” This is a good read for parents who may need help creating homeschool lessons for their kids while out of school. 

Memphis Blues by Cheryl Mattox Berry 

There’s a lost art of creating romantic novels, but Cheryl Mattox Berry nails is in Memphis Blues. The story connects two women, once strangers, who find themselves pregnant by the same man during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Each character faces the challenge of either moving toward their dreams or settling into this new life they hadn’t planned for themselves. It’s hot. It’s captivating. It’s juicy. It’s better than reality television!

Boss Crump to King Willie by Otis Sanford 

Memphis media veteran and distinguished journalist Otis L. Sanford, outlines how race and economics shaped Memphis politics since the reign of the late E.H. Crump to former mayor Willie Herenton, the city’s first Black mayor. The book connects how these ideals and theories still inspire and influence our elections even today. If anyone is ever interested in running for office in Memphis, this is a good place to start. 

Look Up by Carolyn Chism Hardy

Carolyn Hardy is one of the most respected businesswomen in Memphis. In her debut book, she chronicles how her humble beginnings led her to owning the exact brewing facility where she used to work. In the book, she gives principles for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders to follow that will lead to a path of success, growth and prosperity. 

Twenty Something: Lessons, Reflections, and Survival Tips for Your 20s and Beyond by Carlissa Shaw 

A thriving attorney in Memphis, Carlissa Shaw penned this self-help book and guide on surviving your twenties and the twists and turns of life. The book offers advice and chronicles Carlissa’s life lessons from childhood to now as a mother and successful attorney. This is a great book for parents and young adults who’d like to spark intimate conversations with one another while stuck in quarantine. 

The Ride of Pride by Sonya Johnson, Yvonne Johnson 

In an effort to get their son to show more interest in school, a family introduces him to Black inventors and innovators in The Ride of Pride. In honor of celebrating Black History Month every month, the book aims to inspire children by revealing how many of our everyday uses are created by African Americans. The book was created by sisters Sonya and Yvonne and their father, Lee Johnson, completed the illustrations. This is a perfect children’s book to offer your children. 

What are some of your favorite books you’ve discovered or rediscovered during this quarantine? We hope these books and authors make you look forward to learning more about yourself, Memphis and make plans for life post-quarantine.

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