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I went to a surprise bridal shower for one of my nearest and dearest friends over the weekend.
Instead of being forced to pick from kitchen essentials you know the bride will never use, each guest was asked to bring a bottle of wine and a favorite book to help stock the home library for the bride-to-be, Nicole Mitchell.
She’s a social butterfly with friends in almost every career field I can think of from law to nutrition, education to marketing.
So their favorite picks read like a list of who’s who in literature today, with the exception of a few classics in the mix.
If you can steal away from the little ones, check out these titles from Nicole’s new collection.
By Pearl Buck
It’s a Pulitzer-Prize winner and a title on Oprah’s Book Club. Do I really need to say any more? OK, OK. It’s a story that depicts the “rise and fall of Chinese villagers before World War I,” according to publisher Simon & Schuster.
By Christine Caine
No better words explain the need for this faith-based book than the bible verse listed on the author’s website:
“All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakeable things remain,” Hebrews 12:27
By J. California Cooper
Pullitzer-Prize winning author Alice Walker calls J. California Cooper’s style “deceptively simple and direct” in her review of “Some Soul to Keep.”
Walker said the “vale of tears in which her characters reside is never so deep that a rich chuckle at a foolish person’s foolishness cannot be heard.”
Walker’s words are good enough for me. She did write “The Color Purple.”
By Sarah Copeland
This is a collection of 130 recipes for modern couples, whether they are looking for special occasion meals or everyday eats.
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By Ayesha Curry
We know Ayesha Curry as the wife of Golden State Warriors’ star Step Curry, but she’s also a successful cook and entrepreneur in her own right. I mean CoverGirl doesn’t just hand out those commercials to any basketball wife. This particular one is special, and this is her cookbook.
By Edwidge Danticat
In this novel, the 12-year-old protagonist is sent from her impoverished Haitian village to New York, to stay with a mother she barely remembers, according to Penguin Random House publishing. “There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti–to the women who first reared her,” the publishing company said in its overview.
By Joanna Gaines and Marah Stets
Star of HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” Joanna Gaines brings her fans a book of family recipes. It is also the namesake of her new restaurant with her equally-famous husband Chip Gaines, according to Harper Collins Publishers.
By Zora Neale Hurston
Barracoon is a first-hand account of slavery that the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, Alice Walker, called a masterpiece in her review.
By Alexandra Jamieson
Alexandra Jamieson is a holistic health expert and co-star of the award-winning documentary Super Size Me. After overcoming her own food addiction, she wrote “Women, Food, and Desire” to teach women to listen to their cravings, according to publisher Simon & Schuster.
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By Pierre Jeanty
“Her.” is a poetry and prose collection about women for the lover in you, according to the publisher.
By Margaret Jefferson
Lauded as one of the best books of the year in 2016, Negroland is a memoir from Pulitzer Prize–winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson. She was “born in 1947 into upper-crust black Chicago,” and is the daughter of a socialite and head of pediatrics at Provident Hospital, according to Penguin Random House publishing.
12. Note to Self
By Gayle King
Oprah’s bestie Gayle King shares her favorite inspiring letters from the popular CBS This Morning segment Note to Self, which King co-hosts. On the show, Congressman John Lewis, singer Kesha and even Kermit the Frog wrote advice to their younger selves, according to publisher Simon & Schuster.
By Barbara Kingsolver
This one sounds all kinds of juicy. In the story, the wife and four daughters of an evangelical Baptist accompany him to Belgian Congo in 1959, according to Harper Collins Publishers. They believe they are taking everything they need for the trip, but “soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil,” the publisher says.
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By Geoffrey Lewis, Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston
The title says it all with this one. It’s based on five years of proprietary research and is the new “right stuff” of leadership, according to Penguin Random House publishing.
By Mark Manson
Oh, how this speaks to my soul. I care way too much. Author Mark Manson says on his website that’s fairly common:
“F**** given everywhere. Strewn about like seeds in mother-f***ing spring time. And for what purpose?”
16. Time Is a River
By Mary Alice Monroe
Mary Alice Monroe, a New York Times best-selling author, takes readers on a journey to the south in this novel by way of a protagonist recovering from breast cancer and fleeing a cheating husband. “Time is a River” is as much a story of independence and self-acceptance as it is a love story.
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By M. Scott Peck
With more than seven million copies sold, this book spent more than 10 years on the New York Times bestseller list. It aims to help readers learn “how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self,” according to the publisher.
18. The Street
By Ann Petry
Poverty isn’t just a state of being; it’s an inescapable force for protagonist Lutie Johnson, who is struggling to raise her son in the late 1940s in Harlem. The main point of the novel that upward mobility is not always gifted to the deserving still resonates today.
By Issa Rae
The first words in the Barnes and Noble overview of this book are: The “brilliantly wry” (Lena Dunham) and “lovably awkward” (Mindy Kaling) New York Times bestseller from the creator of HBO’s Insecure. I feel like that should be enough to get you to read this one or at least add it to the list of books you’ll read when you have time to read again.
By Shonda Rhimes
It’s no surprise that this one made the cut. It came from the beautiful mind of executive producer Shonda Rhimes, who created hit television series Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal. She is also the executive producer of the TV series How to Get Away With Murder.
By J.K. Rowling
Not only is the bride’s sister a Harry Potter fan with her very own shrine to prove it, J.K. Rowling is definitely down enough to earn herself a spot on this list, and for her very first published book. She not only defended Serena Williams in 2015 when a Twitter troll said she was built like a man, the author’s own success story is the stuff of pure inspiration.
After all, she was once “a single mother, broke in a coffee shop, writing Harry Potter on a napkin,” according to Newsweek.
By Gabrielle Union
In this book of essays, actress Gabrielle Union talks about her life growing up black in a white California suburb. She deals with issues of race, inequality and sexism in Hollywood and reveals that she is a sexual assault victim.