Spotlight on Penny

Penny started reading at the age of fourteen, insisting that reading had saved her life. She also began collecting books at that time. While in the ninth grade, she started her collection with the book My Darling, My Hamburger. During this period, she was reading twenty Harlequin Romances a week. She claims now that she can read one of those in an hour. Penny averages about six books a month. From the years 2011 to the present, she has read over 300 books. Tracking her reading, her book list includes Black Betty by Walter Mosley, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell, and Red Light Wives by Mary Monroe. Her sister works at Enoch Pratt Library and informs her when books are withdrawn from the shelves so that she may buy them for fifty cents a copy.

Penny maintains that books helped her to overcome insecurities, first experienced in childhood, and severe trauma. She does not use the Internet nor does she read online books: it is the smell and feel of the pages that Penny loves. Mary Monroe, the author of God Doesn’t Like Ugly, is one of her favorites. She says she can relate to the characters in the novel. Although she loves Mary Monroe, Walter Mosley is her all-time favorite author. Additionally, she has quite a collection of signed autographed books, one by Bebe Moore Campbell she obtained before Campbell’s death. Penny is also motivated by her cousin, a published author and Morgan State University alumna.

Penny professes that books have always been her passion and while working in Morgan’s Soper and Earl S. Richardson Library, she was in heaven. While there, she got hooked on the author John Sanford. Her love of reading stems from an inherent desire to become a writer; however, she is hesitant because writing is something she doubts she will be successful at. Nonetheless, Penny claims, “poetry just comes out of my head.” One of her poems is featured below



Day after Day

Day after day I sit and ponder

What can I do to make this world a better place

We know it’s going to end, but what can you do

till then I sit and watch the news.

How many children have been abused?

How many women have been used?

How many black men will be in trouble shown on the news?


Time after time I sit and I wonder,

what can I do to keep from going under?

I look at people and I wonder

Why people refuse to look in the book

And do what God is asking of us

Help me Lord they make such a fuss

when all God wants is to love us.


Every time I turn around

Another human being is cut down

Never had a chance to grow

Never knowing what God

would have us know.


What have we become?

The kids say to own a gun

Is their way of having fun

Take my life away who cares anyway

Satan loves it when you think that way

Use your life to do some good

Stop contemplating about being misunderstood.


I try and try everyday

I just stop and asked the Lord

To show me the way.