|photo: Tiffany A. Bloomfield
Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a book club and digital platform that promotes Black literature and sisterhood. She won the Innovator's Award at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and is the editor of On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library (Liveright, October 26, 2021), an anthology featuring contributors ranging from Toni Morrison and Dorothy West to Edwidge Danticat and Danielle Evans.
On your nightstand now:
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers--reading it right before I go to bed is a lush experience. Honorée has such a beautiful way with prose. The book is brilliant and I don't want it to end! I love how she captures this indelible portrait of an American family.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield. I picked up that book because of LeVar Burton--it was selected as a Reading Rainbow pick--and I was so captured by it when he held it up on screen that I insisted my mom take me to the library so I could get a copy.
When I did check it out, I was so thrilled to see a reflection of myself in the book--these beautiful pencil drawings of Black girls with big eyes and curly hair. As a kid, I was really drawn to poetry. I tried my best to imitate Greenfield's lyricism but it was a lot of roses are red and violets are blue.
For me, that moment of recognition helped shine a light on how important it is for all of us--regardless of our gender or race--to have an opportunity to find ourselves. I really held on to it; it was a formative experience. From that point on, I was always looking for myself in the pages of a book. My experiences as a young girl are bookmarked by that moment, from Greenfield I traveled to Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, and so much of the work I try to champion in my new book On Girlhood.
Your top five authors:
Book you've faked reading:
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Austen is this iconic novelist, and there was a moment in high school we had to read Sense and Sensibility, and I was so over the critique of the British empire. Even though Austen was exploring marriage and this idea of female independence, I couldn't fall in love with the characters. I turned to Cliffs Notes for this one!
Book you're an evangelist for:
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. I read Sister Outsider numerous times in college and it provided a blueprint for understanding the Black radical tradition and Black feminism; I was so drawn to how Lorde was able to dedicate her life and her writing to address injustice of all kinds. She was one of the first writers who helped me understand how powerful the word could be--not just in the sense of enjoying a work of writing, and sitting within it, but that words can radicalize you. I don't think I had that understanding until I read her work.
Book you've bought for the cover:
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker. Morgan Parker is a phenomenal poet and this collection features the photography of Carrie Mae Weems. When you buy this poetry collection, it's like you're getting two works of art: this provocative photo and this beautiful work of poetry. The photo beckons you to read what's inside; it's this perfect pairing.
Book you hid from your parents:
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah--the main character, Winter, is completely unpredictable and does things on her own accord. There's sex and drugs and violence, and it's a suspenseful page-turner. If my mom saw me reading that, she would not have been happy. It introduced me to this whole other world I wasn't privy to.
Book that changed your life:
Migrations of the Heart by Marita Golden. It's an autobiography, her own story about being a young woman and finding self-awareness and coming to terms with family and identity. It takes place in D.C., where I'm from, and I was so taken by her ability to tell her story with such vulnerability. For me, it was one of the first things that made me think about my own journey and what it means to create a home--whether that means a physical home, or an emotional home. There are moments where I saw myself; I was taken in by the parallels in our own personal journeys. She was married to a Nigerian man and moved from D.C. to Africa; my parents are Nigerian and I'm from D.C. She tells the story with such introspection, she does a great job of exploring racial and cultural identity.
Favorite line from a book:
"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want it?" --Toni Morrison, Jazz
Five books you'll never part with:
Jazz by Toni Morrison
Breathe by Imani Perry
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat
There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. I think this is such a good book and I feel like not enough people know about it. It reminds me a lot of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois. It goes through the story of this one family and how they're impacted by the Great Migration, and you really get an understanding of one woman's coming of age against that historical backdrop.
I want more people to read her work and understand what an incredible writer Ayana is. It was picked as an Oprah's Book Club book, but I feel like it could still get more attention.
Favorite short story collection:
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer. I am so drawn to short stories because the craft really illustrates the author's command of language, and it allows the reader to fall into these unexpected turns. When you're writing a short story, you really must understand how to capture the reader's attention quickly and leave them with something that they feel satisfied at the end. I like that juxtaposition--the use of brevity and the unexpected. There's something about short stories that always seems fresh and versatile. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is a truly unforgettable collection--to me, it stands out as one of the best short story collections ever written.