I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants discuss what they are reading and other bookish topics.
What I Am Reading: I am continuing to work my way through Layla F. Saad's Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, journaling as I go. The book is set up to span over 28 days, a chapter a day with follow up questions, but I have sometimes doubled up when time has permitted. It is definitely a thought provoking book and not one to rush through.
I was having a particularly rough Friday in the office yesterday, and decided I needed something lighter to read during my lunch break, and so started Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis. I am only about four chapters in, but enjoying it so far.The beginning has a My Best Friend's Wedding movie vibe, but that is not to say it will continue in the same direction. I am looking forward to finding out!
What I Am Watching: More Elementary. I really like Lucy Lu as Watson. I have probably said that before, haven't I? My family also recently watched Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Off the Blog: It was a relatively uneventful week. Much of the state continues to re-open and it seems like many people are shucking caution to the wind despite recommendations to continue with social distancing and wearing masks in public. My husband's employer extended his work from home order to the beginning of September, so at least someone is taking this all seriously. Numbers of those with the virus continue to rise. Word is circulating that plans for the upcoming school year will likely not come until July 21st. The planner and worrier in me wishes it was sooner. That feels so last minute with school starting in early August.
Our air conditioner decided to stop working. I guess it's better that it is now, before the summer heat settles in. Still, it's an expense we do not really need or want.
Thank you for everyone for the birthday wishes for my husband.
He had a nice birthday--and, and you can see, we even had cake!
Surprisingly, she didn't mind being tucked in with a blanket.
My supervisor checking up on me.
Tell me what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching?
I am sorely behind in reviews. I am reading, just not posting reviews. I thought today I would share a couple of reviews of books I read back in February. Their messages seem even more poignant now--although, to be fair, they have always been important--it's just more people seem to be paying attention now.
From where he's standing across the street, Justyce can see her: Melo Taylor, ex-girlfriend, slumped over beside her Benz on the damp concrete of the Farm-Fresh parking lot. [Opening of Dear Martin]
Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017
Fiction/YA; 210 pgs.
If you have been reading my blog over the last several months, you know I have nothing by praise for Nic Stone's Dear Martin. I added this gem to my collection soon after reading The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas, as it came highly recommended. I am having such a hard time putting into words how I felt about this book. It should be at the top of all the required reading lists in schools. And Iwish I could put a copy in the hands of everyone I know.
Justyce is a Black teen with plans to attend an Ivy League school. He is at the top of his class and on the debate team. When his ex-girlfriend is in trouble, he thinks nothing of dropping everything to go to her aid. His good intentions though turn into a nightmare when he is profiled by police and put in handcuffs, his explanation falling on deaf ears. He takes to reading and writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr, hoping for inspiration and guidance. Then when he and a friend come under the sight's of an off-duty white cop with a gun, his life is shaken even more.
Justyce's story is the reality of many young black men in American society. Nic Stone does not pull any punches in taking on the subject of racial profiling and racism. She also delves into such issues as gangs and toxic masculinity. I liked the format of the novel--Justyce's story interspesed with his letters to King. I also really appreciated how the author used the debate team meetings to tackle some much needed and difficult conversations in a very natural way. This is very much a book that drew out my emotions--rage and sadness, in particular. I do not know how anyone cannot come to care about Justyce and his plight while reading this book. And maybe, hopefully, it will raise awareness to a continuing problem in this country.
Some of the quotes I highlighted while reading:
It's like I'm trying to climb a mountain, but I've got one fool trying to shove me down so I won't be on his level, and another foot tugging at my leg, trying to pull me to the ground he refuses to leave.
"Why try to do right if people will always look at me and assume wrong?"
"You can't change how other people think and act, but you're in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?"
“But before you say something “isn’t fair,” you should consider your starting point versus someone else’s.”
“Turn on the news, another black man slain.They say "Its okay. Save your voice, don't complain.This isn't about race so stop using that excuse.Now look at this funny picture of Obama in a noose!See how colorblind we are? You're not really black to me.Underneath, where it all matters, we both bleed red you see?So put away that race card: it aint 1962.Theres no more segregation, isn't that enough for you?”
If you haven't read this one yet, you should.
Ballantine Books, 2018
Nonfiction/Essays; 272 pgs
When I first saw Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves I knew this was one I had to read. The reader in me immediately felt the call because of my own love of reading and books. I have read a small few of the authors featured in this collection (Jesamyn Ward, Rebecca Walker, and Nicole Dennis-Benn), with books by several others on my TBR shelf. Only a couple of them were completely new to me.
In Gloria Edim’s introduction she talks about her mother reading her Eloise Greenfield’s poetry, of recognizing herself on the page, and just how significant that was for her as a black girl—and woman. She goes on to write about the influence reading had on her life. I can relate to the connection a reader makes with the characters in books and how their stories can sometimes influence our own life stories. As a white reader, I do not have far to look for stories in which I can see myself. For a young Black girl and even Black women, it is much harder to find a reflection of oneself within the pages of a book. I will never know just how powerful a connection like that can be as a result.
Gloria Edim has long been an advocate for promoting black voices in literature, celebrating their stories, and bringing them to the forefront. The collection of essays she shares with us in Well-Read Black Girl is beautiful. In each of these essays their authors share a a bit of themselves and their connections to literature, what inspired them, moved them, and helped shape who they would become. If you are looking for some great book recommendations, you will get that here. You will also get a glimpse into the minds and hearts of these brillant African American authors who have inspired others with their own writing and work.
One particular essay that I especially loved is written by Jesamyn Ward, who is a beautiful writer. It shows in her books as well as in her essay “Magic Mirrors” in which she shares a couple of childhood experiences of finding her own reflection in the books she read—how rare it was and how precious when it did happen—and yet also how disappointing it could be. Ward writes, “I read to escape, to molt my skin. Something inside of me recoiled from Cassie’s world at the close of the book.” She could relate to Cassie’s character in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, finding it both beautiful and painful. She also talked about her love for Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, which swept her off her feet and carried her along—until the end. A magic mirror should do more than just reflect our own image back to us, but rather, in Ward’s case, she wanted that reflection of herself to transform her into something more.
I have a long list of quotes I highlighted throughout this amazing collection. Here are just a small few of my favorites:
This is, of course, what great writers do. They make you feel as if they are spies; as if they have somehow crept into your room at night and stolen your dreams or your nightmares. ~ excerpt from "Why I Keep Coming Back to Jamaica" by Veronica Chambers.
[...] the glory in literature is that it asks you to do more than just see. ~ excerpt from "Her Own Best Thing" by Tayari Jones
I still and will always believe that representation of all kinds is essential. ~ excerpt from "Legacy: A Conversation with Rebecca Walker"
Reading for me was a vehicle for self-exploration when real life wasn't safe. But without seeing that path in the power story, I didn't know that it was one that existed for me. ~ excerpt from "The Need for Kisses" by Dhonielle Clayon
I hope that by writing some of the stories I know, people will hear some of their own voices in my characters. ~ excerpt from "Witnessing Hope" by Stephanie Powell
I felt she was talking to me, telling me over and over again as a young black girl that I am my own best thing. ~ excerpt from "Dear Beloved" by Nicole Dennis-Benn about reading Beloved by Toni Morrison
Myths tell us what those like us have done, can do, should do. Without myths to lead the way, we hesitate to leap forward. Listen to the wrong myths and we might even go back a few steps. ~ excerpt from "Dreaming Awake" by N.K. Jemisin
So here is why I write what I do: We all have futures. We all have pasts. We all have stories. And we all, every single of us us, no matter who we are and no matter what's been taken from us or what poison we've internalized or how hard we've had to work to expel it-----we all get to dream. ~ excerpt from "Dreaming Awake" by N.K. Jemisin
In the story of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye was the first time I ever saw myself. Black girls go missing all the time. And missing doesn't always mean disappeared, never to be seen again. It can slso signal the loss of one's self. ~ excerpt from "Complex Citizen" by Mahogany L. Browne
The folly of youth is believing that the road to success is a straight one. It is believing that self-improvement functions as holding a version of yourself forever just out of arm's reach, presuming her to be better, prettier, freer.The truth is that I needed those misteps, sharp turns, the quiet moments of self-doubt that led to my own pep talks in the kitchen. I wasn't Grace; not really, not in the way I originally wanted to be. Nor was I supposed to be. Eventually I realized, and continue to realize anew, that I, Carla, am quite enough. I'm damn amazing. ~ excerpt from "Amazing Grace" by Carla Bruce-Eddings
So my advice to other young writers: Read widely. Study other writers. Be thoughtful. Then go out and do the work of changing the form, finding your own voice, and saying what you need to say. Be fearless. And care. ~ excerpt from "Continue to Rise" by Jacqueline Woodson
Go read this book. Whether you want to read the perspective of these amazing Black women and the way literature has touched their lives, get a long list of books to try, or just enjoy books about people talking about reading, you cannot go wrong with this one.
Have you read either of these books? If so, what did you think? Do they sound like something you would like to read?
Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:
My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise).
Right from the start it did not seem like much of a contest if the comments were anything to go by. In the end, an overwhelming number of you voted for A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas (16 votes), and The Witch's Kind and Bringing Down the Duke getting 6 votes each. Thank you so much for voting!
USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down…
With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.
When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.
But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind. [Goodreads Summary]
Thank you for voting! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!
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