By Cheyenne Boyce
I say use books to inspire you. Don’t be afraid to read. There are books that I just don’t like, but don’t be afraid to explore and see what you like and don’t like. Every book expands your knowledge. Even with books I’m reading this summer, there are words I’m learning. Everything I read in high school, I have been able to pull from in college. You’ll have something to talk about when you get to college.
I use books as inspiration. Any book that talks about overcoming a problem, I know if the [characters in the book] can overcome them, I can. Reaching your full potential is knowing that you always want to learn. That’s why I love reading. I learn and it passes time. Reading books changes your perspective on things instead of sitting around being bored or watching TV. Students should find what they like and go with it. Find your interest and own it. Reading is great. Everybody should do it. I just absolutely enjoy doing it. When I run into students who don’t like reading, I as, ‘Why wouldn’t you enjoy doing it?’ Sometimes people don’t like reading because what they read when they were younger that they didn’t like it.
In the summertime, I read about a book a week. Part of the reason I love to read is that my mom reads. She reads way more than I do. She has a fulltime job, but reads all the time. We joke that nothing gets done around the house because we’re both at the kitchen table reading.
Here are some of the books I recommend high school students should read:
Beloved, by Toni Morrison (or any of her books)
Their Eyes are Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Black Boy, by Richard Wright
Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin
Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (and any of her works)
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
1984, by George Orwell
A Midsummer’s Night Dream, by Shakespeare (and any of his works)
“Digital Fortress”, by Dan Brown
Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Cheynne Boyce, a native of Detroit, Mich., is a Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholar. She’s entering junior year at Spelman where she is an International Studies major/Japanese Studies minor. She’s spending her junior year at Tsuda College in Tokyo as an exchange student.
Often I’m asked “What are you reading now?” I can’t remember the last time I was asked about books that I read during my summers-especially back in the last century when I was in high school that made strong impressions as I prepared for college.
Following are books that I loved and learned from during my school days. Other books were written well after I graduated, but they are my
recommendations for young people in their high school days and as they prepare for college. Every book is not for every reader, but hopefully this list will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. They are listed in no particular order. AND, these books will make handsome , impressive additions to all personal libraries. I hope you will enjoy them and share some of your favorite books that made impressions in your life as you prepared to make your mark in the world.
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
- Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable
- Anything by Richard Wright, including Uncle Tom’s Children, Black Boy and Native Son
- Anything by Dr. Maya Angelou, especially I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Letter to my Daughter
- Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny, by Hill Harper
- Letters to a Young Sister: Define Your Destiny, by Hill Harper
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
- Middle Passage, by Charles Johnson
- Eyes on the Prize, by Juan Williams
- Roots, by Alex Haley
- Eyewitness to America: 500 Years of American History in the Words of Those Who Saw It Happen, edited by David Colbert
- Letters from Black America, edited by Pamela Newkirk
- Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by (President) Barack Obama
- What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, by Tavis Smiley
- The Coldest Winter Ever, by Sister Souljah
- The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt with Lisa Frazier Page
- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
- The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni
- The Learning Tree, by Gordon Parks
- Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by ZZ Packer
- Phyllis Wheatley: Complete Writings
- The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. DuBois
- Coming of Age in Mississippi, by Anne Moody