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Jada Pinkett Smith & 9 Other Celebrities On The Books That Changed Their Lives

Here's a compilation of titles that will get your spring reading list all the way together.

Jada Pinkett Smith

Reading daily makes you a better person. Just ask science. According to research, picking up a book once a day has a multitude of health benefits and might just be the key to living your best life. Along with alleviating symptoms of depression and helping you sleep better, one study showed that reading can even help you live longer, and we are here for all of that.

If you're ready to level up your literary game and have already burnt through your personal library, Jada Pinkett Smith recently slid through with a few must-read books that you can add to your Amazon wish list ASAP.

In addition to The Mists of Avalon, The Red Tent, and The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, Jada also recommended Wild Seed by black female sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler, and what she calls her favorite book of all-time, The Coldest Winter Ever.

With Jada inspiring us all to put Sistah Souljah back on our regularly scheduled reading list, we took some time to explore and compile a list of a few other celebrity-recommended books that you didn't know you needed in your life. There's nothing like winding down and rolling up with a good read.

Here's a compilation of titles that will get your spring reading list all the way together. Scroll below for details:

Issa Rae - 'The Alchemist'

Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

"I read 'The Alchemist' during a transitional period in my life, and it just made me think differently."
$12.99

Regina Hall - 'Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of The Dalai Lama'

Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

$11.99

Michelle Obama - 'Song of Solomon'

Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

"One of the books that I loved — one of the first books that I loved and read cover to cover in one day — not because anybody made me read it but because the book was good ... it was a book called 'Song of Solomon' by Toni Morrison. And that book helped me love reading, because before then reading was kind of like something you did when you had to do it. But that book, it like grabbed me and pulled me, and I just kept reading and kept reading."
$13.49

Taraji P. Henson - 'The 5 Love Languages'

DFree / Shutterstock.com

"I'd been single for so long and the book opened my eyes on what it would be like to commit to someone forever."
$8.99

Kelly Rowland - 'Waiting to Exhale'

Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

"I learned about friendship through this book. Some stuff I didn't quite understand because it was talking about marriage and I read it in my teens, but it taught me how important my friends are."
$12.59

Featured Image via Instagram/@JadaPinkettSmith.

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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