Our Black literary community is made up of so many creative book reviewers and influencers who push the culture forward every day. They take time to create content that centers and focuses on Black literature and they make it look cool.

Taima Rolle aka @shadesnpages on Instagram has made a splash in the black-lit community with the way she promotes Black romance novels. Pairing her favorite novels with her favorite lippies you will definitely get lost scrolling her photos wondering how can you get the book and the lipstick to match.

Rolle leaves reviews under each photo and has received so much love from Black authors who appreciate her giving their work a place on her platform.

Rolle is also the co-creator of the 10 Days of Black Romance Photo Challenge that had us all going ham on the gram. I got a chance to talk to Rolle about her love of reading and the importance of highlighting Black authors and their stories.

The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Taima Rolle-Shades-N-Pages

Photograph: @shadesnpages via Instagram

SGBC: When did you discover your passion for reading? 

Taima Rolle: I discovered my passion for reading at 11 years old. I was on a family trip to California and couldn’t participate in activities because of my age.

A romance book was given to me with the instructions to “Read it.” I’ve been an avid romance reader since then. Secretly, of course. *wink*

The good thing is that I had a family member who enabled my Black Romance habit. Every time she traveled to Florida, she would bring me back the most recent releases. I was a lucky girl. As I got older, that passion for reading never left and I’m more in love with reading than I ever was. 

SGBC: What inspired you to begin reviewing books using social media to promote Black romance?

Taima Rolle: I think my friends got tired of me constantly referencing romance couples. I continuously got the “deer in headlights” look when I would try to discuss my issues with the characters in a book.

One day my friend Kala over on Readerthenblogger flat out told me “You need a page on Bookstagram because I’m not gonna be listening to this every day.” LOL!

I needed that outlet to express my thoughts with other Black Romance readers so I decided to step out on faith. I was apprehensive because I am not a writer and I have a hard time sharing my thoughts on paper. With encouragement from my Kala and my best friend Crystal, Shades N Pages was created five days later. I am enjoying uplifting Black Romance, finding new authors, and introducing others to my favorite reads.

Taima Rolle-Shades-N-Pages

Photograph: @shadesnpages via Instagram

SGBC: As a book reviewer and a member of #blackbookstagram, you decided to showcase books with different shades of lipstick, what was the inspiration behind that idea?

Taima Rolle: When I created this page, I thought long and hard about the message I wanted to send. I wanted the page to resonate with my authentic self. I wanted to share my favorite books but I also wanted to enjoy doing it.

Pairing lipstick shades with the books made the most sense. They are things I love, enjoy and they brought me out of the toughest times in my life. It was destiny. 

You know what’s crazy? I never thought the pairing would take off like this LOL. I’m shocked, I truly am, but I appreciate the love and support.

SGBC: Since there has been a push for diversity and inclusion in reading, have you noticed any significant changes?

Taima Rolle: I have definitely noticed some changes. I’ve noticed more authors of color are receiving well-deserved book deals. Also, #ownvoices reviewers are prioritized when ARCs are being distributed. I like that.

Taima Rolle-Shades-N-Pages

Photograph: @shadesnpages via Instagram

SGBC: What prompted you to create an online challenge to showcase Black romance books?

Taima Rolle: I love this question. I co-hosted this challenge with my book bae Sharonda over at @brazenbabereviews.

We share the same pallet for books and we both feel strongly about Black romance. As a genre, we’ve noticed that Black romance wasn’t getting the recognition it deserves. We have a lot of Black authors writing some of the most exciting and engaging stories who continue to go unrecognized and unappreciated.

We’ve seen other challenges where Black romance was combined with other sub-genres of romance (Ex: Interracial and Multicultural), so we decided to change that and highlight Black romance alone. The genre deserves it.

Taima Rolle-Shades-N-Pages

Photograph: @shadesnpages via Instagram

SGBC: Why was it important that Black romance and only Black romance be highlighted during the challenge?

Taima Rolle: I mean, why not only Black romance? Black love is worth it. 

Repeatedly, we see white couples on covers and we see their stories heavily marketed. That’s not to say it’s not deserving, but Black love deserves the same recognition.

Our stories need the same energy because let’s be real here, Black romance is LIT. Sharonda and I were specific in our request for Black romance only because our aim was to highlight books that show TWO BLACK PEOPLE in love.

We wanted to make it known that Black romance is alive, credible, and celebrated. 

Taima Rolle-Shades-N-Pages

Photograph: @shadesnpages via Instagram

SGBC: Who are your favorite Black romance author/authors? (OR) What Black romance novels are your favorite (top five)?

Taima Rolle: Hands down my favorite Black Romance author is Brenda Jackson. The first Black romance novel I read is Tonight and Forever so I became obsessed with all things “Madaris,” “Steele,” and “Westmoreland.”

Over the years I’ve added Christina Jones, Alexandria House, Stephanie Nicole Norris, Rochelle Alers, Sheryl Lister, Rilzy Adams, Alexandra Warren, Delaney Diamond, Candace Shaw, and Sherelle Green.

This year (2020) I fell in love with Shae Sanders, Danielle Allen, Endiya Carter, Toy, Aja, and Shay Davis. That’s a lot huh? I know, I’m Extra LOL!

SGBC: What is your hope for the Black literary community?

Taima Rolle: That Black readers continue to read, enjoy, and promote the work of Black authors.

I also hope that as a community we come to a place where the judgment of reading preferences is eradicated.

We all enjoy different books and genres, and that fact needs to be respected. There is no specific formula for Black readers. Reading what excites and satisfies you should always be a priority, and that shouldn’t be up for judgment.       

Taima Rolle-Shades-N-Pages

Photograph: @shadesnpages via Instagram

 SGBC: Where do you want to take Shades N Pages?

Taima Rolle: I want Shades N Pages to be a place where you can expect honest, respectful reviews, and book recommendations.

A place that caters to Black romance enthusiasts and introduces new readers to the genre. I want to continue to advocate for Black romance and its authors.

Eventually, I plan to accept review requests, but I have some professional goals that take priority. Also, I would like to manifest a bookish lip collaboration with Fenty Beauty because Rihanna is queen and I love her LOL!  

SGBC: Fill in the blank, Black romance is…

Taima Rolle: ...the Epitome of love and a gift to the universe. It’s Beautiful, Necessary, Bold, Intense, Loving, Caring, and Sexy.

It was a pleasure talking to Taima, be sure to follow her on Instagram.




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