79 books like Table Scraps and Other Essays

By Juyanne James,

Here are 79 books that Table Scraps and Other Essays fans have personally recommended if you like Table Scraps and Other Essays. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Dead Weight: A Memoir in Essays

James E. Cherry Author Of Edge of the Wind

From my list on contemporary African American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a contemporary African American writer born and raised in the South. It was this sense of place that has shaped my artistic sensibilities. I was in my mid-twenties, searching, seeking for answers and direction on my own, when other Black southern writers were instrumental in pointing me in the right direction: Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, Ernest J Gaines, Alice Walker, Arna Bontemps, Albert Murray, just to name a handful. Their writings were revelatory. The same issues that they were dealing with a generation earlier were the same ones I was struggling with every day. It opened my eyes, mind, heart and creativity to put into perspective what I was feeling. 

James' book list on contemporary African American authors

James E. Cherry Why did James love this book?

This book epitomizes what it means to be Black and male in American society and how one’s poor choices or the choices that chose one can be overcome. Horton, a native of the segregated South and the by-product of educators, headed north to college and became swept away by the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. A major drug smuggler, he spent seven years in prison for his crime. But it was during that time, that poetry discovered him and upon his release he earned a B.A., Master, and PhD degrees. In fact, he describes himself as the only tenured professor with seven convicted felonies. In addition, Horton is an award-winning poet, essayist, musician, and devotes much of his time to outreach into the criminal justice system to provide hope for others. Dead Weight, with its theme of redemption, is destined to become an American classic and should be…

By Randall Horton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dead Weight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dead Weight chronicles the improbable turnaround of a drug smuggler who, after being sentenced to eight years in state prison, returned to society to earn a PhD in creative writing and become the only tenured professor in the United States with seven felony convictions. Horton's visceral essays highlight the difficulties of trying to change one's life for the better, how the weight of felony convictions never dissipates.

The memoir begins with a conversation between Horton and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man statue in New York City. Their imagined dialogue examines the psychological impact of racism on Black men and boys, including…


Book cover of The Vain Conversation

James E. Cherry Author Of Edge of the Wind

From my list on contemporary African American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a contemporary African American writer born and raised in the South. It was this sense of place that has shaped my artistic sensibilities. I was in my mid-twenties, searching, seeking for answers and direction on my own, when other Black southern writers were instrumental in pointing me in the right direction: Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, Ernest J Gaines, Alice Walker, Arna Bontemps, Albert Murray, just to name a handful. Their writings were revelatory. The same issues that they were dealing with a generation earlier were the same ones I was struggling with every day. It opened my eyes, mind, heart and creativity to put into perspective what I was feeling. 

James' book list on contemporary African American authors

James E. Cherry Why did James love this book?

In 1946, two African American couples were lynched in rural Georgia by a white mob. Grooms fictionalized that account from the perspective of one of the victims, perpetrators, and a pre-teen eyewitness and in the process comes to terms with redemption, race, and violence not only in the South but in the nation as well. Grooms has the ability to juxtapose the beauty of the Southern landscape with the horrors that have occurred there with breathtaking imagery and conciseness. This book not just deals with the victims of such horrific acts, but the often untold damage done to the progeny of those who perpetrated the act. This is a fiction that will always be relevant as long as a nation struggles with injustice, oppression, and white supremacy.  

By Anthony Grooms,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Vain Conversation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An engrossing novel based on the true story of the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia

Inspired by true events, The Vain Conversation reflects on the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia from the perspectives of three characters-Bertrand Johnson, one of the victims; Noland Jacks, a presumed perpetrator; and Lonnie Henson, a witness to the murders as a ten-year-old boy. Lonnie's inexplicable feelings of culpability drive him in a search for meaning that takes him around the world and ultimately back to Georgia, where he must confront Jacks and his own demons, with the hopes that…


Book cover of Tougaloo Blues

James E. Cherry Author Of Edge of the Wind

From my list on contemporary African American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a contemporary African American writer born and raised in the South. It was this sense of place that has shaped my artistic sensibilities. I was in my mid-twenties, searching, seeking for answers and direction on my own, when other Black southern writers were instrumental in pointing me in the right direction: Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, Ernest J Gaines, Alice Walker, Arna Bontemps, Albert Murray, just to name a handful. Their writings were revelatory. The same issues that they were dealing with a generation earlier were the same ones I was struggling with every day. It opened my eyes, mind, heart and creativity to put into perspective what I was feeling. 

James' book list on contemporary African American authors

James E. Cherry Why did James love this book?

Kelly Norman Ellis is the Chairperson for the Department of English, Foreign Languages, and Literatures at Chicago State University. And like those who have made the “Great Migration” before her, she too has taken the South with her in this wonderful debut collection of poetry. In this book, she deftly taps into the Blues ethos to conjure vivid imagery of a Mississippi unique with its patois, cuisine, and customs that have unmistakably shaped her worldview as an adult. It was the South that would try to degrade and dehumanize Black life. But it was the same South where family and a village would instill pride, confidence, and self-worth. This is a book of a poet coming to terms with where she has come from and celebrating the journey. It reinforces the notion that everywhere you go, home is already there.

By Kelly Norman Ellis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tougaloo Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of poems explores the author's southern roots through a blues/narrative voice and revisits her Mississippi youth, while revealing the contemporary voice of a Black woman searching for place and community outside of her southern past.


Book cover of Lucy Negro, Redux: The Bard, a Book, and a Ballet

James E. Cherry Author Of Edge of the Wind

From my list on contemporary African American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a contemporary African American writer born and raised in the South. It was this sense of place that has shaped my artistic sensibilities. I was in my mid-twenties, searching, seeking for answers and direction on my own, when other Black southern writers were instrumental in pointing me in the right direction: Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Walker, Ernest J Gaines, Alice Walker, Arna Bontemps, Albert Murray, just to name a handful. Their writings were revelatory. The same issues that they were dealing with a generation earlier were the same ones I was struggling with every day. It opened my eyes, mind, heart and creativity to put into perspective what I was feeling. 

James' book list on contemporary African American authors

James E. Cherry Why did James love this book?

This book is reminiscent of Jean Toomer’s Cane. It blurs the lines between poetry, history, and the blues. Shakespeare’s Dark Lady sonnets are at the heart of a book that is both breathtaking and spellbinding. But more than that, this book is a reclamation of the Black female body. Over the centuries the Black female body has been defined by everyone but the Black female. Williams redefines notions of beauty, dignity, and self-worth in a world that is antithetical to the Black female body. This book is a salvo across the bough of social, racial, and political history that has dehumanized Black life throughout the centuries. Not only does Williams, a Nashville native, reclaim all that has been distorted about the Black female body, she celebrates it as well.

By Caroline Randall Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lucy Negro, Redux as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Part lyrical narrative, part bluesy riff, part schoolyard chant and part holy incantation" - New York Times Lucy Negro, Redux, uses the lens of Shakespeare's "Dark Lady" sonnets to explore the way questions about and desire for the black female body have evolved over time, from Elizabethan England to the Jim Crow South to the present day. Equally interested in the sensual and the serious, the erotic and the academic, this collection experiments with form, dialect, persona, and voice. Ultimately a hybrid document, Lucy Negro Redux harnesses blues poetry, deconstructed sonnets, historical documents and lyric essays to tell the challenging,…


Book cover of The Yellow House: A Memoir

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

A memoir that haunted both of us about Broom’s love for the New Orleans house she grew up in, her family, and a neighborhood torn apart by the institutional racism embedded in banking practices, zoning laws, highway development, and other corporate and government policies and practices.

Broom’s mother purchased the house in 1961 in a then “promising” neighborhood. Over the years, the neighborhood was cut off from the city by the growth of the interstate highway, which left this largely Black area in decline from years of indifference by New Orleans elected officials. The house was eventually destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The book provides a harrowing description of the destructive effects of institutional racism.

By Sarah M Broom,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Yellow House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION

'A major book that I suspect will come to be considered among the essential memoirs of this vexing decade' New York Times Book Review

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant - the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would…


Book cover of Freedom in Congo Square

Idris Goodwin Author Of Your House Is Not Just a House

From my list on books to read aloud to children.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my work as a playwright and breakbeat poet, Artistic Director of Seattle Children’s Theatre, and full-time co-parent, I've dedicated my career to crafting engaging narratives that resonate across generations. With over sixty original plays to my name, I've honed a unique approach that intertwines hip-hop rhythms with rich storytelling. My debut picture book is a testament to this approach—inviting children and parents to discover the boundless creativity that can be found in everyday spaces. It’s my hope that this book inspires families to explore their homes with fresh eyes and open hearts, turning reading into an adventure of imagination.

Idris' book list on books to read aloud to children

Idris Goodwin Why did Idris love this book?

This is not just a book; it's a portal to a pivotal piece of history.

As an artist deeply intertwined with music and performance, I am drawn to how this book celebrates the cultural significance of Congo Square as a place of solace and communal joy for enslaved people. The lyrical storytelling and vibrant illustrations resonate with the power of music and dance, echoing the importance of cultural expression in our lives.

This book is a vital read for its historical significance and its ability to inspire through resilience.

By Carole Boston Weatherford, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Freedom in Congo Square as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Winner of a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016: Nonfiction
Starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Horn Book Magazine
A Junior Library Guild Selection

This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human's capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom's heart.

Mondays, there were hogs to slop,

mules to train, and logs to chop.

Slavery was no ways fair.…


Book cover of A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Written by accomplished historian Carolyn Morrow Long, A New Orleans Voudou Priestess tells the true story of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau based on extensive archival research.

In telling her readers about this Creole woman of color who was deeply embedded in the culture of New Orleans in the 1800s, we learn the real story of a woman who was often glorified and denigrated by the press and by local authors who wrote many fantastical tales about her life misleading many about her character and her religion. 

By Carolyn Morrow Long,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A New Orleans Voudou Priestess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Legendary for an unusual combination of spiritual power, beauty, charisma, showmanship, intimidation, and shrewd business sense, Marie Leveau also was known for her kindness and charity, nursing yellow fever victims and ministering to condemned prisoners, and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. In separating verifiable fact from semi-truths and complete fabrication, Carolyn Morrow Long explores the unique social, political, and legal setting in which the lives of Laveau's African and European ancestors became intertwined in nineteenth-century New Orleans.


Book cover of Bayou Magic

Elizabeth Doyle Carey Author Of Summer Lifeguards

From my list on girls with the skills to survive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the children’s book publishing industry for more than twenty-five years, as an editor, bookseller, author, library volunteer, school visit coordinator for authors, and more! I love connecting readers with great books, especially if the readers are middle schoolers, which is my favorite reading level. I see book searches as scavenger hunts—give me a small clue and I’ll find you the book!—and I find it especially gratifying to pair a reader with a book they’ve never heard of before. I’m also good at pairing books with ice cream flavors (Anne of Green Gables + Cinnamon Apple, Little House In the Big Woods with Maple Sugar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Darkest Fudge, and so on!), but that’s a story for another time.

Elizabeth's book list on girls with the skills to survive

Elizabeth Doyle Carey Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Maddy is a city kid spending her first summer alone at her Grandmère’s house on the bayou in Louisiana. Her grandmother is a little bit strange, but she and Maddy get along perfectly and can even read each other’s minds. At Grandmère’s side, Maddy learns to cook, to care for her chickens, to make healing potions, study the weather and tides, but she also learns not to stare, not to mumble, not to be quick to judge. And when an environmental and emotional disaster occurs, Maddy is called on to lead and to heal all on her own. Her triumph is thanks to what she learned from Grandmère. This multigenerational story, gorgeously written by Coretta Scott King award-winner Rhodes, is heartwarming and exciting and Maddy’s survival skills are impressive.

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bayou Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If only Maddy can see the mermaid, can it be real?

It's Maddy's turn to have a bayou summer. At first she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings -- the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be the only sibling to carry on her family's magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may…


Book cover of Mules and Men

Paul Stoller Author Of Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times

From my list on writing about the wisdom of others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was passionate about anthropology in the 1970s when I was in my twenties and am still passionate about anthropology in the 2020s in my seventies. Throughout the years I have expressed my passion for anthropology in university classrooms, in public lectures, and in the 16 books I have published. As my mind has matured, I understand more and more fully just how important it is to write powerfully, cogently, and accessibly about the wisdom of others. In all my books I have attempted to convey to the public this fundamental wisdom, none more so than in my latest book, Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times.   

Paul's book list on writing about the wisdom of others

Paul Stoller Why did Paul love this book?

Hurston’s Mules and Men is a classic work in which the author returns to her hometown, Eatonville, Florida, in the late 1920s to conduct anthropological research. 

In the work Hurston captures the complex texture of social life in a fully incorporated African American community. The result is a rich mix of character descriptions, masterfully crafted dialogues, and a collection of stories that reflect powerfully the deep knowledge and profound wisdom of Eatonville’s cast of characters. 

By Zora Neale Hurston, Miguel Covarrubias (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mules and Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Hurston recounts her experiences collecting Afro-American folklore and offers some seventy folk tales and a series of hoodoo rituals


Book cover of Forever This Summer

Shannon Wiersbitzky Author Of What Flowers Remember

From my list on when a loved one has Alzheimers dementia.

Why am I passionate about this?

The inspiration to write about Alzheimer’s came from my own life. My grandfather had the disease. He and I were very close and it broke my heart when I realized I’d been forgotten. He only remembered my voice, that it sounded like a little girl he used to know. I wanted to capture the truth of that in a story. Sadly, dementia is so common, but for some reason, we don’t talk about Alzheimer’s as openly as we do other diseases. Kids need to be able to have everyday conversations about what they might be experiencing in regards to whomever they know with the disease. My hope is that books like Flowers can help.

Shannon's book list on when a loved one has Alzheimers dementia

Shannon Wiersbitzky Why did Shannon love this book?

Forever This Summer is a lovely tale about the power of a family coming together in a tough time. Georgia, her Mama, and the happenings in and around the Sweetings Family Diner are relatable. As Georgia and her Mama look to help Aunt Vie, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she learns her own family history. It’s a different take on the notion of memories. Aunt Vie’s memories are disappearing and being replaced by those of Georgia’s as she visits the people and places that made the women in her life who they are. 

By Leslie C. Youngblood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forever This Summer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Georgie has no idea what to expect when she, Mama, and Peaches are plopped down in the middle of small town USA--aka Bogalusa, Louisiana--where Mama grew up and Great Aunt Vie needs constant care.

Georgie wants to help out at the once famous family diner that served celebrities like the Jackson 5 and the Supremes, but everyone is too busy to show her the ropes and Mama is treating her like a baby, not letting her leave her sight. When she finally gets permission to leave on her own, Georgie makes friends with Markie--a foster kid who'd been under Aunt…


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