This month’s stack is a little smaller than usual, but it was an action packed month, nonetheless.
August was chaotic, which led me to pick up poetry. I was actually in Tar-gay and The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou by Maya Angelou was calling my name from the shelf. I always find it hard to review poetry. And this is Muvah Maya…so I don’t really even know what I could say. She’s Muvah Maya. Of course this is a 5-star book. I did discover some poems I had never read or heard of before, but there was one that struck me (especially for the times that we are living in) that I want to share with you.
You declare you see me dimly/ through a glass which will not shine,/ though I stand before you boldly,/ trim in rank and marking time./You do own to hear me faintly/ as a whisper out of range,/ while my drums beat out the message/ and the rhythms never change./ Equality, and I will be free./ Equality, and I will be free./ You announce my ways are wanton,/ that I fly from man to man,/but if I’m just a shadow to you,/ could you ever understand?/ We have lived a painful history,/ we know the shameful past,/ but I keep on marching forward,/ and you keep on coming last. /Equality, and I will be free./ Equality, and I will be free./ Take the blinders from your vision,/ take the padding from your ears,/ and confess you’ve heard me crying,/ and admit you’ve seen my tears./ Hear the tempo so compelling,/ hear the blood throb in my veins./ Yes, my drums are beating nightly,/ and the rhythms never change./ Equality, and I will be free./ Equality, and I will be free.
The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & The Truth by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson is the book we all need right now. You know what “the talk” is, right? The talk includes all of the conversations Black and brown families have to have with their children to help them navigate a world and a country that will not see them as children and will see them as a threat. This book is a collection of essays written to spark conversations about race, identity and self-esteem. I am the proud mama of two brown boys and it’s hard sometimes. Reading these essays had me all in my feelings and a few of them had me in tears. The very first essay is an ode to Black girls. “And when the weight of being a Black girl feels like a burden and not a blessing, remember this. Black girl, you are a miracle. Know that you can survive what feels impossible to survive because someone somewhere prayed for you, is praying for you. Because someone somewhere already survived, is surviving. Remember Lucille Clifton and Maya Angelou. Remember Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm. They will teach you how to love the kink of your hair, the width of your hips, the brown of your skin.” Whew. This may be for kids, but it touched me too. All of the essays are beautifully written and timely. I definitely plan to use this book as a conversation starter for my boys. Special thanks to Netgalley and Crown Books for Young Readers for the digital review copy.
My latest book club read was The Toni Morrison Book Club by Judy Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Cassandra Jackson and Piper Kendrix Williams and it was the perfect pick. The Toni Morrison Book Club is comprised of four English professors who LOVE Toni Morrison. They come from all walks of life, but their love for Toni Morrison is the common denominator, which speaks volumes. Each member tells their story and secrets and center it around a Morrison book that they have chosen. With each person, I was amazed at what they chose to highlight from the books or even that they chose a certain book to tell parts of their personal stories. There were so many instances where my mind was blown and I immediately wanted to re-read the book they were talking about because I didn’t get what they got. But I think that’s the hallmark of an exceptional author. Every reader will not walk away with the same lessons or thoughts. And sometimes, you have to read the book several times to get it at all, or every time you read you get something new. I loved this book because it was different and it was an ode to one of my favorite authors. I think it’s an excellent book club pick because essentially, that’s what book clubs are all about. You read the same book, but it’s highly likely that you all walk away with something very different.
Natasha Trethewey tragically lost her mother at the age of nineteen. In Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, Natasha recounts the lives of her mother, white father, life with her stepfather in Atlanta, and traces their steps up until her mother’s murder (at the hands of her stepfather). This book felt like her diary…once she decided to actually deal with and remember her mother’s murder. It’s a documentation of her road to healing and making peace. In the beginning, I was skeptical because I knew this book would be sad. However, I kept going because Natasha’s writing is beautiful and even lyrical at times. I cried tears with her and pray that this book was therapeutic. I highly recommend it (although there were lots of triggers, so beware). Thanks to NetGalley for the digital review copy.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson was a book I was waiting for and Oprah’s Book Club pick for August. Isabel Wilkerson did not disappoint. The book can (almost) be summed up with this quote: “As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.” In Caste, Wilkinson compares our system to the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany. The book is divided into eight pillars, which meticulously breaks down how our caste system has ruled America and how Americans see and treat each other. Our caste system is about power and the chaos that we are living in proves her theory correct every single day. Isabel Wilkerson is a masterful writer and historian and this book is not only worth a read, but a re-read.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was the book that I saw all up and down my Instagram feed, so I just HAD to read it. Peer pressure is real. Nonetheless, I am glad I picked it up. The Vignes are identical twin sisters from Mallard, Louisiana. After growing up in a small town, the twins leave at age 16 and eventually, they begin to live two totally different lives. And by different, I mean one twin lives as a Black woman and the other lives as a White woman. The twin that’s passing manages to marry white, give birth to a white child and no one knows of her secret past. But will this secret remain a secret? How will future generations be impacted? I won’t give it away, but this story is goodT. Go get it!
So, yeah…it was a good month! All of the books were great. What did you read last month? I am always looking for good books to add to my TBR list.