Rose's Bookshelf Number Five


41. THE TRUTHS WE HOLD by Kamala Harris

With all the celebration of Kamala Harris and her "chucks & pearls," I thought her book would be a great fit. It also comes in a young adult edition. From Vice President Kamala Harris, one of America's most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.
Vice President Kamala Harris's commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California's working families. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as California’s attorney general, as a United States senator, and now as vice president- grappling in every role with an array of complex issues, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality.
Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. Our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.  


It's the perfect choice to kick off Black History Month!  In this time of racial divide, take a look at the past in order to understand our present and our future.

One of the most widely read and influential works in African American literature,The Souls of Black Folk is W. E. B. Du Bois’ classic collection of essays in which he details the state of racism and black culture at the beginning of the 20th century. First published in 1903, The Souls of Black Folk takes the reader on a history lesson of race relations from the emancipation proclamation to the early part of the 20th century. Principle to Du Bois’ exposition is the idea that African Americans live in a state of “double-consciousness,” meaning that they have a “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” A founding member of the NAACP, Du Bois helped to lay the foundation for the debate that would become the civil rights movement. In this book, he examines many of the topics covered in his ongoing debate with  Booker T. Washington such as education, voting, and his famous concept of the "talented tenth" potential in every culture to become the scientists, artists and leaders.

As Du Bois’ biographer, Manning Marable, observes, “Few books make history and fewer still become foundational texts for the movements and struggles of an entire people. The Souls of Black Folk occupies this rare position.”

43. KINDRED by Octavia Butler

Kindred is Octavia Butler's most popular book, appealing not only to hard core science fiction fans but historians and general readers as well.The visionary author’s masterpiece pulls us—along with her Black female hero—through time to face the horrors of slavery and explore the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end long before it has a chance to begin.
Butler is one of those accomplished science-fiction writers ( the Parable and Patternist series) who tap out their tales so fast and fine and clear that it's impossible to stop reading at any point. And this time the appeal should reach far beyond a sci-fi audience—because the alien planet here is the antebellum South, as seen through the horrified eyes of Dana, a 20th-century black woman who time-travels in expeditious Butler fashion.
   "There is tremendous ironic power in Butler's vision of the old South in science-fiction terms—capriciously dangerous aliens, oppressed races, and a     supra-fevered reality; and that irony opens the much-lamented nightmare of slavery to a fresh, vivid attack—in this searing, caustic examination of       bizarre and alien practices on the third planet from the sun. --- Kirkus Review
44. BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME,  Ta-nahesi Coates
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

45. LOVE by Toni Morrison

Love is  Morrison's eighth novel, three of which are part of a series on love itself. I meant to share this one on Valentine's Day , four days before her birthday, but here we are.
May, Christine, Heed, Junior, Vida—even L: all women obsessed with Bill Cosey. The wealthy owner of the famous Cosey’s Hotel and Resort, he shapes their yearnings for father, husband, lover, guardian, and friend, yearnings that dominate the lives of these women long after his death. Yet while he is either the void in, or the center of, their stories, he himself is driven by secret forces—a troubled past and a spellbinding woman named Celestial.
This audacious exploration into the nature of love—its appetite, its sublime possession, its dread—is rich in characters, striking scenes, and a profound understanding of how alive the past can be.
In 1993, Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her collective work, including Tar Baby written in 1981. She was the eighth woman and the first Black woman ever to receive this award. Since then, she has written five more novels: Paradise (1997); Love (2003); A Mercy (2008); Home (2012); and God Help the Child (2015). This brings her novels to a total of eleven, all books about love, she claims. She wrote several children’s books. And she has also written two plays, Dreaming Emmett and Margaret Garner, a libretto, as well as compilations of speeches and essays: Playing in the DarkThe Origin of Others, and The Source of Self-Regard, published just six months before she died in August, 2019. Her award-winning documentary on race and the human condition, The Pieces that I Am, premiered in June of that year. In addition, she edited and contributed to several anthologies. 
46. JUST AS I AM by Cicely Tyson
Just as I Am was  published two days before her death in March 2021. What a fitting choice to end Black History Month!
Called to use her craft as a weapon in the Civil Rights Movement, she shares memories of her most treasured roles. 
   "As I see it, Roots resonated because it touched a nerve that runs far deeper than race--- family identity.  The human desire to know where we've come from, and who our foreparents were, is a universal longing that transcends ethnicity. When you know your history, you know your value. . . Judging by the scores of folks who approached me with tears in their eyes as they spoke of the series, I felt like I'd been part of educating the entire world... 
   Then in 1978, while still basking in Roots' afterglow, I played the formidable abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman in the NBC miniseries, A Woman Called Moses--- a role that, on the heels of Rebecca, Jane Pittman, Coretta, and Binta, fulfilled my mission of portraying the best of who we are a Black women."
"Just As I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” –Cicely Tyson


47. THE WEDDING by Dorothy West

From Dorothy West, the last survivor of the Harlem Renaissance, The Wedding is an intimate glimpse into African American middle class. Set on bucolic Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s, this is the story of life in the Oval, a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast's black bourgeoisie. Within this inner circle of 'blue-vein society,' we witness the prominent Coles family gather for the wedding of the loveliest daughter, Shelby, who could have chosen from 'a whole area of eligible men of the right colors and the right professions.' Instead, she has fallen in love with and is about to be married to Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. A shock wave breaks over the Oval as its longtime members grapple with the changing face of its community.
Dorothy West took a short story she had started years before and began to transform it into her second novel. She struggled with the book and was ready to give up until her neighbor, Jackie Onassis, encouraged her to see it through. The novel, titled The Wedding, was eventually published in 1995, when she was 88. West dedicated it to Onassis, but unfortunately, Onassis died in 1994 before it was released. Set on Martha's Vineyard, The Wedding related the multigenerational tale of a well-to-do African-American family. As with a lot of West's writings, the book provided a somewhat satirical look at affluent blacks and related social and racial issues. 
With elegant, luminous prose, Dorothy West crowns her literary career by illustrating one family's struggle to break the shackles of race and class. 
 It was so successful that Doubleday quickly brought out a collection of her short stories and reminiscences, The Richer, the Poorer.
In Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker exposes the abhorrent practice of female circumcision in an unforgettable, moving novel.  It is the third book in The Color Purple collection, which also includes The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar.
In Tashi’s tribe, the Olinka, young girls undergo female genital mutilation as an initiation into the community. Purported to keep women faithful by disabling sexual feelings, this practice often resulted in trauma, painful intercourse, fistula, even death. Tashi manages to avoid this fate at first, but when pressed by tribal leaders, she submits. Years later, married and living in America as Evelyn Johnson, Tashi’s inner pain emerges. As she questions why such a terrifying, disfiguring sacrifice was required, she sorts through the many levels of subjugation with which she’s been burdened over the years.
This line explains the title of Possessing the Secret of Joy:
   "There are those who believe Black people possess the secret of joy and that it is this that will sustain them through any spiritual or moral or         physical devastation."
“As compelling as The Color Purple.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Walker’s remarkable compassion rings on every page, along with the most tender wit and evocative verbal music.” —Cosmopolitan
“Remarkable . . . superb fiction.” —Daily News


After the last six books, Ithought we needed a lighter romance.
Acclaimed playwright, essayist, New York Times bestselling author, and columnist Pearl Cleage has created a world rich in character, human drama, and deep, compassionate understanding, in a remarkable novel that sizzles with sensuality, hums with gritty truth, and sings and crackles with life-affirming energy.
After a decade of elegant pleasures and lux living with the Atlanta brothers and sisters with the best clothes and biggest dreams, Ava Johnson has temporarily returned home to Idlewild—her fabulous career and power plans smashed to bits by cold reality. But what she imagines to be the end is, instead, a beginning. Because, in the ten-plus years since Ava left, all the problems of the big city have come to roost in the sleepy North Michigan community whose ordinariness once drove her away; and she cannot turn her back on friends and family who sorely need her in the face of impending trouble and tragedy. Besides which, that one unthinkable, unmistakable thing is now happening to her: Ava Johnson is falling in love.
What Looks Like Crazy on a Rainy Day is the first of a two-part series, Idlewild, followed by I Wish I Had a Red Dress.  She has written five other novels and several plays and poetry books, including We Speak Your Name, first performed at Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball, an homage to Black women that featured celebrities from all walks of life.
50. MONDAY MORNING BLUES by yours truly, Ernestine Rose!
Monday Morning Blues is the story of Val and Jeff, who face one of marriage's toughest challenges, infidelity. Caught up in the routine of working and raising a family, they, like many couples, lose sight of each other and become victims of the temptation and advice of others. This is a realistic romance, closer to home than many of us are willing to admit. There are no thugs, no drugs, no guns, and no murders, just a really good story about two people who really love each other. Add to the mix a pair of above-average children, a crazy friend and an outrageous Bible-toting in-law, and you will find yourself rooting for the sanctity of the home front. This is a book that true romantics can fall in love with and be inspired by to renew their own relationships. Guided by days-of-the-week chapter headings, and the assumption that bad things happen on Mondays, Monday Morning Blues will convince you to take a second look at how your week is going.
Here is my blog on how I came to write Monday Morning Blues.  Find this and more books and blogs at
Meet my characters in the book trailer below!