I enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. I wanted to read another novel this summer and have also been wanting to keep reading Black Lives Matter recommendations or books by black authors. This one was hard to put down, it was well written. There were certain parts of the book I wanted to be different but all in all I was connected to the story and the characters and thought this was an illuminating portrayal not just of relationships but of the effects of wrongful conviction and racism in America.
It was hard not to grab Alex Trebek's memoir The Answer Is... - at the very least I was interested in some behind the scenes look at Jeopardy! I was pleasantly surprised, by the end of the book I felt like I knew Alex and wanted to give him a big hug. He came across so endearing, just a good guy. He didn't "tell all" and he didn't write in beautiful prose, but he warned everyone in the intro that he wasn't going to do either. What came after were some interesting stories and insights, some behind the scenes about the game show industry and Jeopardy! and a closer look at the personality and life of Alex Trebek, a beloved TV personality who (unfortunately) we will see leave us soon. If you've ever enjoyed catching Jeopardy! from time to time, this is worth the read.
I heard a lot of positive chatter about I'm Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown and I wasn't disappointed. Brown wrote a beautiful memoir that offers a powerful perspective on race and sheds light on racial injustice and inequality. I went through all the emotions while reading this one, I couldn't put it down, I'm so thankful Brown wrote this.
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria: And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, was fully revised and updated in 2017. The Prologue alone was worth the price of this book, it was full of insights, history and facts that were pretty eye opening. The book had a lot of great information, it took me some time to get through but I'm glad I read it.
A friend of mine knows Lawrence Ford, the author of The Secrets of the Seasons, so I picked this up and it was a quick read. This book was about how to "wake up" to the true meaning of life and understand that everyone is here for a reason. Ford explains that everyone goes through different seasons throughout their lives and that understanding them will help you achieve fulfillment and come to find what you're meant to be doing on this earth.
I've read a lot on the topic of spirituality, religion and consciousness, so I was already primed to take in this info and found some good nuggets in there that were inspiring. There were some nice reminders for me about the connectivity of everyone and everything on earth and how to move past the brain and tap into the spirit and energy that's around and a part of us everyday.
The structure of the book was sometimes confusing to me but I did like how he used the book to offer a lot of his life story and path to discovering the 'secrets of the seasons."
The Giver of Stars is the second book I've read by Jojo Moyes, having also read Me Before You. This book took place in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the Depression. It was about a team of women who ran the Packhorse Library, an initiative spearheaded by Elenor Roosevelt to expand literacy to poor, rural areas of the country.
I loved the historical backdrop of the book and the characters Moyes created. Her books read like a movie, it's no wonder this is already being made into a motion picture (as was Me Before You).
I wasn't sure exactly what was going to happen in the book and even during the slower parts, Moyes doesn't disappoint with her descriptive writing and excellent character development. As this was a novel set in a factual time in history, Moyes gives keen insights and beautiful descriptions around equality for women and blacks, the struggles of the poor, the issues surrounding coal mining in the 30's as well as morality, religion and the pressures of a patriarchal society.
I bought Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi almost 3 years ago and read about half of it before I got distracted and began another book. Kendi's name popped up again (his latest book is How To Be An Antiracist) after the outrage that's ensuing over several recent unjustified lynchings of black people and I got a renewed interest to dive back into this book.
I'm glad I finished this. It's very well researched and a well written look at the construction of racism in America. There are many more practices and policies that have and continue to hinder actual racial progress than I ever knew. This was eye opening and a very thorough look into the history of racism and how things have progressed to the present. It's long and due to all the amazing research and effort Kendi put into this it was a little tough to get through, but in the end, worth it.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by a policeman who knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes, which gave new vigor to the Black Lives Matter movement across the globe, more people than ever now outraged and joining together for change.
This sparked me to do some important reading on this topic. I quickly read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World And Me. It was a quick read and quite eye opening. I've read Coates' work before and have enjoyed his insight and the same goes for this memoir and letter to his son who was 15 at the time he wrote this to him.
It's incredible how different my world is from that of Coates and his family, how different my life is because I was born to white middle class parents. It's sometimes embarrassing for me to think how I was born into such privilege, but then I slap myself for being embarrassed because that's me again, being privileged, and this isn't about me and it's not about my own self improvement. It's about listening and understanding those who have been suppressed and discriminated against for so long and speaking out against racism and injustice at the right time and place and in the right way. It's about doing the work and helping make this an everybody issue and not a black issue. I'm glad I read this and I'll read more.
It's been a while since I've read a current novel. I picked up Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould (which came out last month) after reading about it in an article in The New Yorker.
It's unlike me to try a new book that I haven't heard much about yet but I was in the mood for a breezy novel and this looked like it fit the bill.
I enjoyed Gould's writing as well as the storyline. I quickly got wrapped up in the story and its characters and devoured this book in a few days. The writing was fast paced and to the point but had a nice flair to it and didn't shy away from the deep and profound. The characters and the story really stuck with me, like watching a good TV mini series. I wish I could read more of this and stay with the characters a bit longer.
After I read Leadership in Turbulent Times I was interested in reading about some of U.S. history after Franklin Roosevelt, so picked up Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World by William Lee Miller.
This was well written and an interesting look at both the positive and the faults of two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. I appreciated how Miller dissected many events and aspects of these two men, provided various viewpoints and didn't just glorify each of them but dove into the negative and gave some counterarguments.
The two were born six years apart and Eisenhower followed Truman in office. They were the first presidents faced with the power of nuclear weapons. Miller dove into topics such as bombs, wars, racism and assessed the success of each of these two-term presidencies.
Before reading this I didn't know much about these two presidents, so I learned a lot and liked how Miller not only made the text easy to read, but also broke down the topics so that you got a full 360 view. Some parts were hard for me to get through since I don't read a lot of history, but I'm glad I made it through this one.
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