All in the Hood

Say it Rah-shay By Nov 30, 2010 31 Comments

Years ago during the height of Terry Macmillan’s “Waiting to Exhale” popularity I used to be an exclusive reader and lover of “Black” books. I would greedily scour the African American section of bookstores and libraries looking for the next great thing that I would be reading. For months all I would read were books that soon seemed to be repeats of themselves:

The main female character (MFC) was burned by love, heart of gold just caught up in some bad situation.

The main male character (MMC) was also burned by love; he either had baby mama drama, hootchie mama drama or something in between.

The main characters would also have best friends. The MFC’s best friend would either be the stereotypical hand on her hip, don’t need no man, can’t stand men, type or the love ’em too much and be a doormat type who would always, always interfere with the relationship of MFC.

MMC’s best friend would be some loser who would inevitably degrade some woman, cross his best friend, be henpecked by some woman or just such a caricature that he was almost cartoony.

The plots would either be something so absurd that halfway through I would be able to correctly predict the ending or would just be complete nonsense. Then there was the editing. Ugh! I realize that my blog has glaring spelling and grammar issues but dang! Some of these books would seem like they were the writer’s roughest draft just stapled and bound, and presented to the public. So I switched genres declaring that I would never read ‘those’ books again.

Fast forwards a few years and I am hooked once again. I have discovered that like other genres, Street lit, Urban books and the like have hits and misses. Some are really good and some get the ghost cheer: Boo! Unfortunately, unlike other genres these so called “Black Books” are often overlooked and not given a second chance because people tend to think that they perpetuate a stereotype, promote a gangster lifestyle and glorify drugs. And, to speak for myself, the books would seem so negative that it was almost a must to separate myself from the life of Pookie and ‘nem*

K’wan stayed and chatted and signed books for all of us!

When Vanessa asked me to be in her book group I was just flattered to be thought of as a colleague. When I found out that we were reading Street Lit, I thought I would just roll with it; as one of two I am often asked about “our Books” and I felt like I needed to get out of my rut of fantasy, mystery and wimpy kids.

Again, like some genres I found myself wondering how in the world some folks were published. I pondered who the audience some of the books were and I was exposed to K’wan. K’wan has written and published 13 books, is a motivational speaker and the CEO of Black Dawn Inc. He not only writes, he discovers and encourages up and coming writers to develop their talent and enter into successful writing careers.

My library didn’t have any of his books. Any type of Street lit, Urban lit, novel by popular Black authors unfortunately disappear within weeks of being catalogued so I had to request his book from member libraries. Hoodrat arrived first and after forgetting to take it with me, finishing up my other book and just being a bit intimidated, I picked it up. From the first page I was hooked! I felt like I was in Harlem right along with Rhonda, Yoshi, Billy and Reese as they loved, fought, lived. As I read, I found myself taken by just how wonderful the book was as well as wanting more. The characters seemed so real; they were vividly described and introduced and I found myself literally laughing out loud at some of the scenes or gasping during others.

When the book club met K’wan, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Most authors I have met are regular Joes and Josephines: people who’s job just happens to be putting pen to paper. There have been a few who love themselves but hey, if you don’;t believe in yourself then why should we? K’wan was neither. He was funny, shared himself and made me eager for more. He answered all of our crazy library questions and also shared some freebies from two of his new authors.

A young patron and I have been reading the books together. Eagerly she comes in to ask me about my progress and we discuss the characters. I am so happy to have been introduced to his works. Due to my past prejudice as well as my own stubbornness I would have missed a fantastic author, a fabulous series and an opportunity to connect with a patron.

Not hood but totally digging it,

 *I’ve not read a book about anyone named Pookie but that seemed like a perfect example


I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.


  1. Terry says:

    I had to laugh at your last comment… You haven’t read a book about anyone named Pookie. I don’t why but it struck me as funny.
    I have never met an author of any book I have read. Happy you got to meet K’wan.

  2. I think I am the same way. I start reading a book and I think to myself :how the heck did this person get a book published”. I am glad you had a chance to read this book and discover something you may have missed.

  3. Annie Mai says:

    I have yet to meet an author of a book I've liked. Luck you for being able to meet K'wan!

  4. Annie Mai says:

    I have yet to meet an author of a book I’ve liked. Luck you for being able to meet K’wan!

    1. Rachee says:

      K’wan was so nice and funny! I follow him on Facebook and keep up with his new books, since this post he’s had about 6 or so more published!

  5. I am not so much into urban fiction, I tend to lean toward non-fiction. But Pookie could pull a girl in.

  6. Chavonne H says:

    I just got into reading fiction and it’s so cool when I find a book with “real” characters that I can relate to or I can feel them through the writing. I know I have my opinions formed about certain genre’s and books but it’s always fun when someone or something changes your mind.

  7. Casey says:

    When I was teaching high school, some of my students developed a deep love for reading through reading “urban lit.” While some books within the genre may perpetuate stereotypes, as you said, I think it’s also really important to remember that not all “urban lit” books are like that. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. Rachee says:

      I always tell parents that these are the gateway books! People start with K’wan and then move to other genres.

  8. I don't think I have come across any of the type book you have described above-and if you read my blog you will that I have read quite a few!! Have I read any Black Lit–yes–did I like it–some yes, some no. But then there are many books I am not thrilled with-for instance non fiction-but there are even a few non fiction books I fell in love with.

  9. Karen says:

    Sometimes it takes a book written by peers to pull people in. I am all for any book that encourages reading

  10. Sarah Bailey says:

    I’m sure I’ve heard of a book with someone called Pookie in it lol.

    I love these odd ‘how did this ever get published’ books sometimes they just make you want to laugh till you cry. x

  11. I used to wonder about some genres of books also. Why some people wrote and why I couldn’t find others. Books and writers are a curious thing. You can never tell what people will read

  12. kay adeola says:

    I have not met any authors though i do love reading,the books i hate are the ones that just seem to be same old same old boring lol.

  13. Sometimes we learn lesson we didn’t expect to learn. I’m glad you gave it a try again and found this wonderful book.

  14. Ashley Gill says:

    A book that is so well written that it allows you to vividly see the scenes sounds awesome! Of course most books put you in the scene, but it sounds like K’wan knows how to write! I’m glad you opened your mind to new options and found an author you are really enjoying!

  15. Maria S Sinclair says:

    Sounds like a good book!! I don't have perfect grammar on my blog either but it's okay. It is me and i'm sharing myself with others.

  16. I haven't read a lot of urban fiction but I have read some I enjoyed, others not so much. I haven't read any books with a Pookie in them either. 🙂

  17. Aisha Kristine Chong says:

    I haven't read that kind of book but it seems to have a really good plot to do. I should really good more to know more though, lol.

  18. Pam Hudson says:

    It is really nice that you have someone that can share your enthusiasm for this book and discuss it with you. So cool meeting the author and getting to hang out and ask a few questions.

  19. I cannot recall the last time I picked up a book that I wanted to read, it has been a while. I like a variety of books and Hoodrat sounds like one I would be interested in reading. I will check it out more when I head to the book store this weekend.

  20. Cynthia L says:

    I love to read, but don’t often take the time for it. I am one of those crazy people who won’t put a book down once I start it. I am happy to hear you found some great books you love

  21. Robyn says:

    These books look great. I read every night to unwind.

  22. Amberlee says:

    Sounds like a great experience although I have never heard about Urban Fiction. I will have to check it out, thanks!

  23. Melanie says:

    I have read a book with someone named Pookie! It’s a kids book though and I can’t remember the name… I love reading books I’ll check this one out

  24. I just learned about a new genre I have never heard of before. That is quite interesting. I haven’t heard of any of his books either, but they sound interesting. I just love meeting the authors of my favorites.

  25. Amanda Love says:

    I haven’t read any of these books in quite a while myself. I used to read them years ago when I was younger too. I’ll have to look into this authors book and maybe get back into reading them again.

  26. patricia says:

    That is great that you got to meet the author. I never read any of these books before but then again I do not have the time to read much.

  27. That’s pretty cool that you got to meet an author! I have always wanted to do that!

  28. Melanie Roberts says:

    Perfect grammar….?? what's that?? Let's keep it real, we aren't perfect.. lol… thanks for sharing, sure sounds like a great book

  29. this sounds like a great book, I have 2 younger brothers that I know would love to read this1

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