The Khalil Amani Reader

Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!

Books That Shaped My Life…

by Khalil Amani

They say, “Niggas don’t read!” I’ll go a step further and say, “The masses doesn’t read!”It ain’t just black folk who have an aversion to the written word! It is a societal problem—literacy in general.


I was a pretty good reader in elementary school, but somewhere around the 9th grade I lost my love for reading. I went through high school not reading—getting by on Cliff Notes. I mean, really, as an 11th grader, Don Quixote might as well have been the man-on-the-moon!


But somewhere around age 26 I reunited with my love of reading and realized I had missed a wealth of great literature. I vividly remember taking an English 101 course at a local community college and having to read these short stories and then write about them. The next semester I took an English 201 class and read (for the first time!) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain and it was a done deal! That book ignited the flame of reading (and writing) like never before! After reading Twain’s magnificent work (how ever racist) we had to write a 5-page essay and I blasted on Twain in a 15-page essay entitled “Mark Twain: A Great Racist!”The paper was so explosive and controversial that I received an A+ and the teacher asked if he could copy it for future classes to show how a student is supposed to write—how freethinking we should be.


In those first two English classes, both professors, one man, one woman told me that my writing was such that if I got serious I could be a pretty good writer. Of course I blew off their compliments because I was nowhere near thinking I had the writing chops to become an author, but it is an occupational hazard of the avid reader—having so much shit in your head that sooner or later it’s gonna spew out in one’s own philosophies and ideas about the human condition in the form of a book. It happened to me—six times!


Back then, I read all of the great American literature and then started devouring black literature/authors and black history books and books of a religious nature and everything in between. The more I read the more I realized there was much more to read! The more I knew the more I realized I didn’t know anything!


So! I just wanna encourage you to pick up a book and start reading. The following is a cross-section of books that have shaped my thinking and my life. This book list is no where near comprehensive! There are so many other authors that I didn't mention, like James Baldwin, J.D. Salinger, Franz Fanon, Alice Walker, and Ralph Ellison. The list is endless, but this is good start for those wanting some direction.




Hope that you get a chance before you die to read some of these wonderful books!


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