Harlem Renaissance: Fiction for February and Other Yearly Reading Ideas

I am trying very hard to not be too ambitious in my reading plans for the year. That said, I really enjoyed how my January has been focused on Shakespeare and Charles Dickens this month, reading both biographies of the men and some of their works.

I decided to revisit the Harlem Renaissance during the month of February. I am not currently running the Classics Circuit, but one of my favorite Classics Circuits of the past was February 2010 when I learned all about the great literature of the Harlem Renaissance. I have not been very diligent at revisiting those works I really want to read, so this year, I’m going to try to read a few novels. I have a volume of five Harlem Renaissance novels out from the library. It contains the following novels:

  • Cane by Jean Toomer
  • Home to Harlem by Claude McKay
  • Quicksand by Nella Larsen
  • Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset
  • The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman

I am most excited about the two novels by women and I’m very intimidated but excited to give Cane a try. I don’t know if I’ll get to all five novels this month (especially considering my baby is due at the end of February!) but I’m excited to give those three I mention a try at least.

Other works I plan on reading in February are more up in the air, depending on when my baby comes. I’ve started Mansfield Park, to continue my tradition of reading a Jane Austen for every Valentine’s Day. I like it so far. I want to read one more Shakespeare play, a shorter one this time. I need to read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers for my classics reading group (I’m hoping it is a faster read than Bleak House….). I have a few review books on my table: one is medieval poetry “for kids” I’m curious about, another about children’s literature by Leonard Marcus that I’m quite excited about, and a third called Death by Petticoat about historical myths that have been debunked (I have a few months to read the last two). I’ve been trying to avoid requesting review copies, but these just sounded too good to pass up!

I’m also currently reading, at the rate of one chapter or about 30 pages a day, Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes by Tamin Ansary and it’s getting me eager to read more about Islam. I’m a member of the Goodreads “Middle East/Northern African Lit” group, and while I don’t join in their particular readalongs, I enjoy following the discussions.

Books that caught my attention for my Islamic reading project (nonfiction):

  • Muhammed: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong (Eminent Lives series)
  • The Arabs: A History by Eugene Rogan
  • The Qu’ran (I’m not sure the best way to approach this book. I have an Oxford translation I trust…)

And then I’ve decided to join in Kinna’s African Literature Challenge (I’m calling it a project for my own purposes, though) to read a total of five books by African authors in 2012. I’ve just finished my first of the five (Sleepwalking Land/Mozambique).

Books that caught my attention for my Africa Reading Project (fiction by Africans):

  • The Thing Around Your Neck by Adichie (on my shelf!) Nigeria
  • The Wizard of the Crow (on my shelf!) Kenya
  • Season of Migration to the North Sudan
  • The Translator by Leila Aboulea Sudan
  • Nervous Conditions  Zimbabwe
  • Death and the King’s Horsemen by Soyinka Nigeria

And there are so many more, and a few more I own that I can’t find right now, but that’s a start…

Do I dare ask for reading suggestions for books about Islam or African fiction?

Are you reading any African-American literature to celebrate US Black History month in February?

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. A really interesting list of books from the Harlem reading list there, I’ve not picked up any of them so will watch for your reviews. The African reading list is fantastic too! Love the look of all of your books.

  2. I have Nella Larsen’s Quicksand and Passing, and they survived my great cull over the weekend, but I’m not sure that I’ll read them soon. Same thing with Nervous Conditions.

    I read Season of Migration to the North a while back and found it fascinating. Parts of it were a struggle to get through, but it is short and very thought-provoking.

    1. Teresa » I just finished the Fauset novel and I liked it even more than Larsen’s Passing! Quicksand is next up for Harlem Renaissance lit. I do hope you get a chance to try it — I can of course relate to the not having time thing 🙂

  3. You might want to check out Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. It’s not written in the Harlem Renaissance but it is set at that time. Excellent book.

  4. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the Fauset book as I’ve not heard of the author. The others on your Harlem Renaissance list I know. What a wonderful project. Thanks for joining the African Reading Challenge. Love your list – all the books are fascinating in one way or another. I will reread Wizard of the Crow this year. Enjoy your reading

    1. Kinna » I posted on Fauset today. Very interesting book, I enjoyed it more than Nella Larsen’s Passing, although the two are very similar. And I’m looking forward to some of those Africa books. Hopefully I’ll still have time after Monkey arrives 🙂

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