The 5th Inning by E. Ethelbert Miller

It can be hard, borderline infuriating to sift through all the books being published these days and find ones deserving of your attention. Books on the Root's Reading List will do some of the hard work for you by providing recommendations and suggestions regularly. Here's a quick catch-up edition to help keep your TBR (to be read) list up-to-date.

The Parade Goes on Without You
By Andrea Boll

NOLAFugees Press, April 2009

Boll, a New Orleans resident and Dillard professor, uses an experimental storytelling format and the parade culture of her city to weave a narrative of music, love, and belonging. As a bonus, proceeds of the book will be donated to The Roots of Music, a not-for-profit that addresses the need for middle-school music education.


Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop
By Adam Bradley

Basic Civitas, March 2009

If you're like me and always looking for intelligent and insightful analysis of hip hop, here's one to add to the list. It wasn't just the back cover endorsements from Jeff Chang, Junot Díaz, and Cornel West that got me all mentally hot. Bradley's a Harvard Ph.D. who's talking my language: craft, rhyme pattern, wordplay, syllables, and syncopation.

Everything is Now

By Michelle Cliff

University of Minnesota Press, 2009

Toni Morrison has said that Cliff's writing is "full of razors, blossoms, and clarity." The Jamaican-born writer has returned with a collection of short stories, new and previously published, that challenges many of our isms, from sexism to colonialism.

The 5th Inning

By E. Ethelbert Miller

PM Press/Busboys and Poets, March 2009

Miller's follow-up memoir ponders the implications of baseball's fifth inning, a metaphor for this stage in his life as a man, husband, father, and artist in his fifties. He does so with the honesty and poetic wisdom that made Fathering Words, the prequel, so compelling. The book was published through a partnership between PM Press and Busboys and Poets. For us DC/MD/VA artsy folk, Busboys are places to hang out, catch readings, drink fair trade coffee, and buy cool progressive art and books. Looking forward to more titles from them.


Before I Forget

By Leonard Pitts

Agate, March 2009

Syndicated columnists like Pitts write books. This we know. But those titles are rarely novels. In his fiction debut, the Pulitzer Prize winner tells a fresh story of a ‘70s soul star who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is prompted to reconnect with his own father and troubled son. Apparently, both Jaime Foxx and Don Cheadle have expressed interest in turning the book into a movie. I personally vote for Cheadle.

is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at