The NorthParan Book Buzz List: Black Celebrity Biographies You Need On Your Bookshelves


As an entertainment reporter for some of the largest newspapers and magazines in the nation, I’ve interviewed my fair share of celebrities some smart and sweet, others raging, hairy… well, you know. I’m asked all the time which interviews I enjoyed most; the list is short Lena Horne, George Clooney, Diahann Caroll, Janet Jackson, Spike Lee, Val Kilmer. But the best experience I had as a writer, by far, was the four hours I once spent with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. My story, “Ode to Joy: Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Mark 50 Years As Friends, Lovers & Activists,” was a celebration of the release of their 50th anniversary and the publication of their brilliant book, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together. The iconic couple, both deliciously adorable, insanely passionate, hysterically funny, incredibly intelligent, let me fellowship with them at their New Rochelle home, where they fed me the best stories about how they met and fell in love, why they’d spent a lifetime as activists, and what it takes to stay together for a lifetime. I promise you, they were a writer’s dream warm, inviting, open, quotable. Amazing. But my story pales in comparison to their book, one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. And, smartly, included “In This Life Together” among its list of the best biographies written about or by African Americans. Enjoy this week’s Buzz List and do something to make yourself feel good: Buy a few of these awesome picks for yourself.

1. Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 by Randy Taraborrelli

So much has how been said and written about the life and career of Michael Jackson that it has become almost impossible to disentangle the man from the myth. This book is the fruit of over 30 years of research and hundreds of exclusive interviews with a remarkable level of access to the very closest circles of the Jackson family including Michael himself.


2. Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin

At long last, the first serious biography of entertainment legend Lena Horne the celebrated star of film, stage, and music who became one of the first African-American icons


3. Miles, The Autobiography by Quincy Troupe

For more than forty years Miles Davis has been in the front rank of American music. Universally acclaimed as a musical genius, Miles is one of the most important and influential musicians in the world. The subject of several biographies, now Miles speaks out himself about his extraordinary life.

Miles: The Autobiography, like Miles himself, holds nothing back.


4. With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are legendary stars of the American stage, television, and film, cherished not merely for their gifts as actors but also for their lifelong commitment to human rights, family values, and community. Now, in a joint memoir that celebrates half a century of successful marriage, they look back on the extraordinary careers that earned each a Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.


5. Maybe You Never Cry Again by Bernie Mac

By the tender age of five, Bernie Mac had found his calling: making others laugh. He went to become one of the greatest comedians of our time. In this memoir, this amazing comedian delves deep down inside to retell the poignant story of his childhood and the people who helped shape him into the comedian, and the strong and self-reliant man he eventually became.


6. Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You: The Making of a Champion by Lisa Leslie

A three-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time MVP of the WNBA, and the first woman ever to dunk in a professional basketball game, Lisa Leslie is considered one of the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball. Now in her own words, she points the spotlight onto her remarkable life off the court, where being a confident champion was not always simple.


The North Paran Book Buzzlist is a weekly feature produced by that gives readers an entertaining digest of the most fascinating books that are being talked about by the black community today.

Remember: For every book you purchase at, a new book will be given to a child in need!



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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. I really enjoyed your story, and I met them at one of their book signings in Atlanta back then…

  2. When I saw the pic of Ruby Dee and the late, great Ossie Davis it brought by fond memories. My family has lived in New Rochelle for over 6 generations and the Davises and one of my great-aunts have been neighbors and friends for over 30 years (isn’t that a beautiful street?). They have even “partied” with us at our annual family reunions! And your right– just great people. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

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