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Ever since I was about four years old I've been in love with books, and to this day, I rarely leave home without one or two in my tote bag. As a child I loved the Madeleine and Curious George series and of course anything by Dr. Seuss. Later, in second grade I read The Autobiography of Frederick Douglas (Scholastic Children's Edition) at Baptist Elementary School, then at Manhattan Place Elementary School I read one of my favorite books, Sounder. My teachers noticed my passion, and how even dictionaries and encyclopedias fascinated me, and asked me to tutor other students who were struggling with reading. It didn't matter that I was only in the third grade, they still wanted me to help the fourth, fifth and sixth graders.
In 1973, when I started Orville Wright Junior High the two books that influenced me the most were The Diary of Anne Frank and Summer of My German Soldier. The incident that really brought those stories home to me was when my history teacher's son visited our class and told us about his father's experiences in a concentration camp during World War II. Up until then I'd always thought our teacher was unnecessarily strict, but when I discovered what he'd survived, he and the books became a more significant part of my education then.
In 1976, when I started Westchester High School, we had the choice to read two classics-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens or Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Even though I chose the latter, I still read David Copperfield on my own and have a deep fondness for Dickens and his commitment to social reform. At this time I was becoming an active reader and books were really starting to inspire me. When I took a cake decorating class in tenth grade, and we had to make a doll cake, I was reading Gone With the Wind so I decided to make a green and white dress in homage to the one Scarlett O'Hara wore to the bar-b-que at the Wilkes's when she met Rhett Butler for the first time.
Other books that influenced me then was a book my mother lent me, Five Smooth Stones, and Interview with the Vampire. Through my English classes I also developed a love for short stories and fondly remember being shocked and thrilled by the surprise endings of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and A Rose for Miss Emily by William Faulkner.
My mother, an avid reader then, gave me two books I still adore Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
Sartorially books dictated how I dressed once I went to college. After reading Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton I immediately started dressing like Edie. Despite being African-American, and middle class, I'm as thin as she is with a small face, so I felt comfortable imitating her mini skirts, tights, pointy shoes and big earrings as I raced from class to class at SFSU and partied at the I-Beam, Stud, Echo Beach and other clubs. Like Edie, I love to dance, so in that way too we're alike. When my best friend, at the time, found out I dressed like Edie in San Francisco, he suggested we dress up like her and Andy Warhol for Halloween. So that night, in Hollywood, I put on my black and white checked mini skirt set, black beret and pointy shoes and hit the L.A. streets as a Superstar once again.
Jack Kerouac and Anais Nin have also affected my look, and I've dressed as both a beatnik and a bohemian writer for Halloween as well. Now, as a Los Angeles-based fashion/feature writer who also works as a Special Education Instructional Assistant for LAUSD my literary taste runs to Children's and Young Adult books, non-fiction, fiction, mysteries for the Mystery Book Club I belong to at Mar Vista Library and fashion for the Fashion Book Lovers Group I belong to on www.goodreads.com.
Currently my taste has been pretty eclectic and I'm reading two mysteries and a non-fiction book-The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Follow Her Home by Steph Cha and A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston.
As my lifestyle, job and interests continue to direct my literary choices the one thing I'll always know for certain is that a book is always a friend and worthy companion.
My Book List for 2017