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Book Review: A Black Woman’s Coffee Table Book

A BLACK WOMAN'S COFFEE TABLE BOOK by Kayla Nixon is filled with beautiful writing that is both precious and a comfort. Check out what Andrea Marks-Joseph has to say about this indie nonfiction title.

Book Review: A Black Woman’s Coffee Table Book

Reviewed by Andrea Marks-Joseph

Filled with beautiful writing that is both precious and a comfort, A Black Woman’s Coffee Table Book tells a life story of heartache, enlightenment, and inspiration.

This book put a smile on my face.

“Sure, there are millions of books and thousands of authors out there, but none who can tell my story quite like I can.”

Written to herself in journal entries over the years and lovingly dedicated to her mother, A Black Woman’s Coffee Table Book is organized artfully and smoothly, easy to stop or start at any point. But if read in order, it feels like a journey. 

“I did not come by them easily; therefore, I do not present them lightly.”

Nixon’s grief serves as the starting point. “Loss and Tragedy” is the first chapter of this book, followed by chapters on healing and rebuilding, forgiveness and growth, creativity and travel, joy and purpose, agency and (Black) Womanhood, and finally, self-acceptance. It’s quite jarring and disheartening a place to start as a reader. We are immediately informed of the author’s “shocking and defining” cancer diagnosis and the loss of her mother to cancer in the same year. It’s likely that this same tone meets grieving readers exactly where they are, though, and there’s no denying the power in that. 

That said, this book is significantly more uplifting than devastating. The select pages dedicated to quotes are colored in warm tones, perfectly Instagrammable and soothing in their aesthetic quality. In these pages, Nixon offers profound, thought-provoking questions for the reader to ponder as they sip their morning coffee or sit in the waiting room of a Black-owned wellness center.

“Who might you discover you are?”

It also presents positive affirmations and mantras that occasionally lean into catchy motivational phrase territory: 

“Honor yourself by showing up as if you were chosen for every moment. Because you were.” 

Written tenderly, and in the hope that it will remind us that life is worth living, even after the devastating storms of loss, the overarching message of this book is that we can always choose the kind of person we want to be, no matter what life throws at us. 

Nixon shares practical lessons from her grandmother, her own experiences teaching kids, and moments in her life as a photographer. “The world needs what you have in a way that only you can give it, so don’t hold back; Give your offerings with your whole heart.” Nixon writes with words that are encouraging and personal, addressed directly to the reader: “The person most worth being is you.”

The lessons feel significant enough to have their major points printed full-page color, but its details feel poignant too.

“What was it that you were doing when you thrived on the joy of life?”

Nixon is honest about her struggles. Her vulnerability blooms into empowerment and strength for the reader. We are shown her open searing pain only briefly before it is folded over to display the strength and purpose she found in overcoming the shock of it. It is a true commentary on life, loss, and love. This book would make an equally wonderful gift to people who are enduring grief and to those simply contemplating their next step in life. The authenticity and emotion in Nixon’s words ring true no matter who you are, where you are in life, or who you may have lost. 

There are so many layers and such encouraging depth to even the simplest of moments in A Black Woman’s Coffee Table Book. Appealing to Black women everywhere, it should be shared as such. This inspiring book is a gift to us all.

Genre: Nonfiction / Black & African American / Women

Print Length: 198 pages

ISBN: 978-1667810829

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