Diverse Spines’ authors Jane Mount and Jamise Harper

Jane Mount and Jamise Harper, authors of the new “Bibliophile: Diverse Spines,” fell in love with the printed word at an early age.

Narrowing down their “most loved” books was not an easy task, but here’s a list of some of the titles on their diversity bookshelves.

Jamise’s list

“Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward

This memoir is an agonizing, powerful look at conditions in the deep South, where men, like crops, are mowed down by the circumstances of life in poverty. Ward writes about the five young men she knew, including her brother, who died from drugs, accidents, suicide and bad luck, and asks why.

“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi

The legacy of slavery, woven through the decades and generations, is told through the lives of two half-sisters, one sold into slavery and sent to the United States, the other who married a British slaver. The story travels through 300 years of slavery and its consequences in this country and warfare and British colonization in Ghana.

“The Street” by Ann Petry

Jane Mount and Jamise Harper’s favorite books.(Illustration by Jane Mount) 

Set in Harlem during World War II, a young Black woman is trying to raise her son alone while dealing with poverty, racism, lack of opportunity and predatory men. Called a “classic” by book reviewers, the sentiments and realities of (its) time resonate today.

“The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin

Written in 1963 by the novelist, playwright, essayist, poet and activist, “The Fire Next Time” contains two essays: “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” and “Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region of My Mind.” The title is (this lyric) taken from a Black spiritual, “Mary Don’t You Weep”: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign/No more water, the fire next time.”

“Bone” by Yrsa Daley-Ward

A visceral collection of poems that cut straight to bone on mental health, religion, sexuality, death, love, depression and life as a Black woman.

Jane’s list

“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

The first book in “The Broken Earth” trilogy is a dystopian novel about a future Earth where the continents have merged and humanity is left to navigate amid a roiling, disruptive nature. Certain people have an ability to control the chaos and to cause it, using natural disasters like weapons to create empires.

“Gingerbread” by Helen Oyeyemi

A fantastical novel about a family with a gingerbread recipe unlike any others, the tale travels through jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, real estate and, of course, that magical gingerbread.

“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has dreams of getting out of Campbell, Indiana, attending the elite Pennington College, playing in their world-famous orchestra and becoming a doctor. Only one thing stands in her way — money. When her scholarship falls through, she seeks another offered to the king and queen of the prom, not something on the wish list.

“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy

“Bibliophile Diverse Spines” by Jamise Harper and Jane Mount 

A beautiful, heartbreaking tale set in India and centered on the family of two twin girls, who make their own world in the shadow of their dysfunctional one.

“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

The saga of four generations of Koreans living in Japan is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition and loyalty. The story travels through the varied elements of society, from privileged and educated (circles) to the pachinko parlors, recounting the strength of women and the devotion of families.

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