I’m not exactly sure how to describe Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, but I can say that I can’t put the book down. I’m a few pages away from finishing it (devoured it in 3 days) and it resonated deeply with my being as a black woman. Her combination of poetry, essays and what I would call think pieces weave together to form an intricate and important collection of timely work in a society undoubtedly fueled by race.
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
I love being able to share my current book list with you and since I’ve discovered The New York Public Library’s mobile app I’ve been able to download and read tons of books right on my phone for FREE. A bookworm’s dream! I’m currently reading a few books including one that I didn’t think I’d enjoy, Luvvie Ajai’s I’m Judging You. Reason being for the initial trepidation has everything to do with this current “It’s cool to be mean/You can’t sit with us/the only way to get a few clicks is to degrade people” atmosphere. I thought this book would be filled with these snippy antidotes disguised as a smart or helpful read. I was wrong…sort of. It is steeped in shade. The title alone gives that away, however it’s a realistic view of many of life’s everyday situations. It’s not mean for the sake of being mean, it’s brutally honest and so far, I’m enjoying it.
Another book that I decided to give a try was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This novel follows the tale of two half-sisters born in different villages in 18th Century Ghana. The tale follows their lineage from their very different beginnings, one sister being married off to an Englishman the other imprisoned in the dungeon below and sold into slavery. It’s most definitely a page turner.
A few other books that I’ve downloaded: No Name in the Street by James Baldwin, Buddhism for Dummies and I’ve also been quite curious about The Nation of Islam so I’ve decided to try and read The Qur’an…I know, very light reading material over here J. Happy reading!
If nothing else, the country most certainly feels divided. As a NYC’er I am constantly blown away by our ability to hunker down when necessary and come together for a greater cause. Protests, petitions, community check in’s and various other ways have made themselves present throughout my city to resist the corruption, hatred and ignorance currently plaguing the highest level of our government. One thing that I’ve heard about that gave me a glimmer of excitement is the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment’s “One Book, One New York” reading imitative. It’s a call for NYC’ers to all read the same book with an NYC connection or theme at the same time which will hopefully lead to discussions about something other than that guy that won the election (well at least that is my hope). People are being asked to vote on which book should be read by February 28th here (http://www1.nyc.gov/site/mome/initiatives/1book1ny.page). The Mayor’s office also snagged the help of a few celebrities (the dreamy Gincarlo Esposito, Danielle Brooks from Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and William H. Macy of the hilarious Showtime hit Shameless to name a few) to campaign for the cause. The books on the list include:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Personally, I’ve already started reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book and I believe it is a very important book for everyone to read but I’m thinking I will try and read them all. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a classic that I actually own but I’m almost ashamed to say I’ve never read and the other books are new to me so why give them a shot? For more information head over to the official website and cast your vote!
‘Tis the season to be jolly
and shit and I’d be the jolliest photographer in all the land if someone were to put this book in my Xmas stocking this year! Ok cut the cheesy holiday talk, I really want this book. I’ve had my eyes on it for awhile now but have never gotten around to hunting down a new copy. It’s out there for sure and I’m sure it is waiting to start its new life on my bookshelf 😉
I’ve decided to start a new tradition. Every year, I’m going to purchase at least 8 books. Four that I’ve already read but no longer own and four that I’ve never read. So here we go! For 2016 my new purchases are:
The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung aka Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I’ve already started Chairman Mao’s little red book and so far, it’s interesting. I’m not afraid of the idea of communism in any way and this book was actually one of the required reading pieces on the original Black Panther’s reading list when the organization was first started.
As for my previously read books, I purchased up:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Angela Davis: An Autobiography
Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas
Assata: An Autobiography
I’ve read these books years ago but this was back when I frequented the library on an almost weekly basis so I never got around to purchasing them for my library. I have a pretty good collection of books already that have almost completely filled up an entire bookcase. I love reading and learning and I’m a fan of E readers (I own a couple) but there’s just something about owning hard copies of books that I don’t think will ever go away. Do you have any must own books in your library? If so, do share, I love hearing book suggestions!
I saw a quick interview with the author of Sporting Guide: Los Angeles 1897 Liz Goldwyn and after watching the trailer for the book was immediately intrigued. Check it out below.
Apparently “sporting guides” were handed out at brothels way back when as a sort of who’s who of the best *ahem* providers of service. Amazing. According to the author’s Instagram page, Sporting Guide is described as a book “set in LA 1897 in the world of vice and prostitution…before Hollywood.” I’m all in. You can purchase the book from the author’s site. Oh, she also happens to be the brother of Tony Goldwyn aka President “Fitz” from Scandal for all my fellow gladiators.
Remember back in grade school when you were assigned books to read over the summer? I can clearly remember having to turn in 3 book reports during the first week of school and it SUCKED. Now as an adult I appreciate the idea of keeping young minds active over the summer and have decided to give myself a summer reading list. I’m going to be realistic because let’s be honest, who has time for LIFE in 2015? I’m going to make the time and TRY really hard to finish the books on my list. I’m giving myself until the official end of summer which is September 23rd. In no particular order here’s my summer reading list (some are books that I’ve already started, others I have not).
Like almost every black female my age, when Sister Souljah dropped The Coldest Winter Ever back in 1999 I thought it was the best book that I’d ever read. I finished it in two days and yearned for more. Unfortunately, fans waited until 2008 for what was believed to be a sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever but turned out to be a prequel highlighting Winter’s main love interest Midnight, not her. I actually have Midnight: A Gangster Love Story sitting on my bookshelf…I can’t get into it. However, last year Souljah released the sequel, A Deeper Love…, and although it is the story of her little sister Porsche I have to say it’s pretty damn good! Not The Coldest Winter Ever good, but I really got into it on my recent trip to Phoenix and am pleasantly surprised. I’m mid way and so far Winter’s character…I won’t spoil it lol, but I will finish this book by the end of the summer.
It’s no secret that I’m a Spike fan, so there is no excuse why it’s taken me a few years to finish this book lol. It’s not that it’s not good, I guess I just have to be in the mood to read it and when I am, I read a bit and put it away. This summer, I’m finishing it.
After seeing that fabulous documentary I must read her words. The real goal for myself is to read the book before the infamous movie comes out featuring my wife in my head Zoe Saldana but I’d like to have it in my possession and read by the end of the summer.
There’s also an African American Studies text book that I’d like to finish but I might give myself until the end of the year to finish it 😉
What books are you reading this summer?