Glory Edim on the magic of Octavia Butler and how Well-Read Black Girl changed her life

·3 min read
On Girlhood by Glory Edim
On Girlhood by Glory Edim

TIffany A. Bloomfield; Liveright Glory Edim; the cover of her anthology 'On Girlhood'

My favorite book as a child

One of my favorite books as a child was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. It's a beautiful reflection of how complicated Black girlhood can be. I was super taken by the protagonist, Cassie Logan. I loved reading about this young bright-eyed girl addressing real-life problems and attempting to understand her place in the world.

The book I read in secret as a teenager

My mom would have been upset to find Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah in my backpack! Souljah explored the culture of street life in N.Y. during the 1990s. It's a suspenseful read filled with sex, drugs, and misguided choices. The story is told entirely from the viewpoint of teenager Winter Santiaga. I can still hear her voice in my head: "I came busting into the world during one of New York's worst snowstorms, so my mother named me Winter."

The book that changed my life

My first anthology, Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves, truly changed my life. When I first launched my Instagram account, I never imagined I'd have 425,000-plus followers, let alone a book. It opened a world of possibilities and made me more confident as a writer.

A book I've read over and over

In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens by Alice Walker. I read this collection on the campus of Howard University, and the first essay — "Saving the Life That Is Your Own" — that, for me, was such a pivotal piece of inspiration because I was able to see how I could model myself as an artist and activist. Her work has given me a greater appreciation of art, and there's such a fearlessness to her writing that I try to emulate and return to, again and again.

A book I wish I'd written

Sula by Toni Morrison, because of how she captures the beauty of female friendship.

My literary crush

Octavia Butler. She is just so future-forward, and her work is all about manifestation, desire, and imagining new possibilities. I am completely in awe of her world-building.

The last book that made me laugh

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams. Just read the first page and you'll understand why. Tia's prose reads like you're talking to a friend, like someone's sitting next to you divulging all their deepest, darkest, funniest secrets, and you want to share them right back with her.

The last book that made me cry

We are Bridges by Cassandra Lane. It's a beautiful memoir about motherhood and family. The author became pregnant at 35, an experience that encouraged her to revisit her family tree. She starts to uncover the history of ancestors, in particular her great grandparents, Mary and Burt. Her great grandfather was lynched, and the memoir is an act of trying to reclaim her family's history, to discover what it means for the trajectory of a family when someone is taken violently away — what goes in place of that absence. It's beautifully done and has a haunting quality to it. You know from the beginning that something terrible has happened, and you're trying to figure out how that one horrific act impacted everyone in her family.

My favorite movie adaptation of a book

Hidden Figures. I was completely unaware of mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, extraordinary Black women whose intellect made a huge impact on the U.S. space program. The film adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly's book is outstanding.

A book I've pretended to read

I never finished Animal Farm by George Orwell. Don't tell my high school English teacher.

A book people would be surprised to learn that I love

Anything by Barbara Kingsolver. I love her writing and how she captivates the reader. One of my favorite books is The Poisonwood Bible.

Glory Edim's new anthology, On Girlhood: 15 Stories From the Well-Read Black Girl Library (Liveright), is out now.

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