Books: Two of Halle Berry’s Favourites

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We look at two of Halle Berry’s favourite books: Love by Toni Morrison and Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime by Joan Cooper

Love

Toni Morrison is an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher and professor emeritus at Princeton University. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved (1987). The novel, one of Halle Berry’s favourite books, was adapted into a film of the same name (starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover) in 1998. Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. In 1996, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government’s highest honour for achievement in the humanities.

She was honoured with the 1996 National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Morrison wrote the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.

Morrison’s spellbinding novel is a Faulknerian symphony of passion and hatred, power and perversity, colour and class that spans three generations of black women in a fading beach town. In life, Bill Cosey enjoyed the affections of many women, who would do almost anything to gain his favour. In death his hold on them may be even stronger. Wife, daughter, granddaughter, employee, mistress: As Morrison’s protagonists stake their furious claim on Cosey’s memory and estate, using everything from intrigue to outright violence, she creates a work that is shrewd, funny, erotic, and heart wrenching.

Halle Berry said: “Toni Morrison’s writings challenge me to think and feel deeply. LOVE deals with the pain young women suffer when they are deprived of proper parental love and guidance. This novel touches me deeply and inspires me to provide my children everyday with the mothering they truly deserve.” She also famously said: “I’d rather have my nose in a book, than someone else’s business.”

Find ‘Love’ on Amazon

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Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime

Joan Cooper was an American playwright and author known by her pen name, J. California Cooper. She wrote 17 plays and was named Black Playwright of the Year in 1978 for her play Strangers. It was at the encouragement of Alice Walker that Cooper turned from her claim to fame in the theatre and started writing short stories. Her first collection A Piece of Mine was published in 1984. Two other story collections followed, before the release of her first novel, Family, in 1991. Cooper wrote Funny Valentines, which later was turned into a 1999 TV movie starring Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine.

Awards Cooper won include the American Book Award (for her 1986 short-story collection Homemade Love), a James Baldwin Writing Award and a Literary Lion Award from the American Library Association. Whether through her stories or her legendary readings, J. California Cooper has an uncanny ability to reach out to readers like an old and dear friend. Her characters are plain-spoken and direct: simple people for whom life, despite its ever-present struggles, is always worth the journey.

In Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime, Cooper’s characteristic themes of romance, heartbreak, struggle and faith resonate. We meet Darlin, a self-proclaimed femme fatale who uses her wiles to try to find a husband; MLee, whose life seems to be coming to an end at the age of forty until she decides to set out and see if she can make a new life for herself; Kissy and Buddy, both trying and failing to find them until they finally meet each other; and Aberdeen, whose daughter Uniqua shows her how to educate herself and move up in the world.

These characters and others offer inspiration, laughter, instruction and pure enjoyment in what is one of J. California Cooper’s finest story collections.

Buy Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime is available via Amazon