Just in time for fall, AlwaysAList.com has six books you should definitely read and add to your collection. If you’re looking for some good literature to give as a holiday gift, these six books are best bets for hot holiday stocking stuffers.
April Ryan: “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House” – The Must Read: Veteran White House reporter April Ryan was at one point just another face in the Oval Office press pool, but after facing the ire of Donald Trump and his communications team during White House press briefings for asking the questions Americans often want the answer to, the Baltimore native has now become a household name. A news reporter for American Urban Radio Networks and a political analyst for CNN, Ryan captures in “Under Fire” a story of chaos, betrayal, death threats and self-doubt in a book that reads like a juicy fiction novel, but sadly is all too true. From battles with the revolving cast of characters working as press secretaries, to the demise of her longtime friendship with Omarosa Manigault, you go on the frontlines and face the ‘fire’ with Ryan, while learning how she came through the refining process like pure gold. (Rowan & Littlefield/$24.99)
Carla Hall: “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration” – The Tasty Read: Carla Hall was described by the Washington Post as “the most visible black person in food” because of her years co-hosting ABC’s hit series “The Chew,” becoming a standout star on “Top Chef” and her various appearances on the Food Network. But in her latest cookbook, “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration” the Nashville-bred, D.C.-based culinary queen aims to reshape the view of the comfort food that derives from African American culture. Hall elevates soul food in her book named after the food genre and doesn’t just share decadent, reimagined recipes of signature dishes, but explains their origins and shares moments from her journey through the south and the people she encountered while rediscovering this food. The photos will have your mouth watering and you thumb through this book exploring what to try. As for me, I’m starting with Oxtail Stew with Brown Sauce. (Harper Wave/$29.99)
Omarosa Manigault-Newman: “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House” – The Controversial Read: She’s a polarizing personality that Americans love to hate, but reality TV star Omarosa Manigault-Newman became a fixture during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and then later his administration and her headline-grabbing media moments, staunch support and ultimate termination are all captured in her tell-all tome, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.” The ordained minister best known by her first name offers an insider’s account to the confusion, infighting and undermining taking place in Trump’s administration. In a shocking revelation, the shares that Trump’s rumored affair with Pastor Paula White is common knowledge to his children; offers insight on the ongoing infamous White House leaks and those who have been accused; and confirms the intensity of racism and bigotry tossed around amongst Trump’s advisors. Reading about the day General John Kelly fired her sounds like a scene right out of a TV drama. And since this New York Times Bestseller hit stores, Omarosa has backed up many of the book’s claims with actual audio tapes. (Gallery Books/$28.00)
David Ritz: “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin” – The Timely Read: “The Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin died in August of 2018. This unauthorized biography, “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin” was originally published in October 2014 and Franklin denounced it as a “very trashy book…full of lies” despite having worked with its author, the award-winning David Ritz on her 1999 biography, “Aretha: From These Roots.” Franklin had originally asked Ritz to work on a follow-up book to their first biography, but once she wanted a sanitized version of her life and his research interviewing family members and close friends generated something more meaty and sensational. In “Respect,” Ritz talks about the accomplished vocalist as a teenage parent troubled by her mother abandoning the family when she was young. Franklin had two children while still in her teens and went on to battle with alcohol, cigarettes and marry a man that was physically abusive. The book also explores the wild sex parties and orgies often put on by her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin. This book is dishy, it’s insightful and its 482 pages of a life that reads like the soap operas that Franklin herself loved to watch on TV. (Little Brown & Co./$19.99)
Jenifer Lewis: “The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir” – The Better Late Than Never Read: Jenifer Lewis is a force of nature. The Hollywood actress, best known for playing mothers in more movies than one can count, is finally receiving the acclaim she deserves as she’s approaching her 60th birthday. Currently starring on the hit ABC sitcom “Black-ish,” Lewis’ memoir shares a story triumphant, pain, self-reflection and sickness. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 33, the Kinloch, Missouri native was not only able to understand her sexual addiction, but it helped her conquer some additional demons from her past. The church-bred belter would go on to become a Broadway star and tour in cabaret shows before become the quintessential scene stealer on TV and in movies. This book is a loud and entertaining as she is; while allowing you to understand the nature of this passionate and profound talent in her humorous, authentic voice. (Amistad/$25.99)
Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry & Minyon Moore: “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics” – The Smart Read: Four of the most powerful women in politics Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry and Minyon Moore (with the help of writer Veronica Chambers) chronicle their journey as Black Women in the political sector in “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics” (the title is inspired by the theater piece by Ntozake Shange). With each of them having worked at the White House or the Democratic National Committee; and for The Clinton’s and Al Gore, these women have led campaigns for people and entities at the forefront of politics. They share the ups and downs and expected twists and turns that come with working in politics, and share how their friendship has been impacted both good and bad by some of what has transpired. The ladies are working through a friendship challenge even now, as Brazile released a book called “Hacks” that caused them to stop speaking for a period of time. If they ever wanted new series in the vein of “Scandal” to come to TV, these women have enough material to shape that storyline. (St. Martin’s Press/$28.99)