Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)

This is what I’d consider a good “beach read.” I tried not to analyze it too much because I was so drained from my last book – which was interesting but, let’s be honest, a bit pretentious. This one was an easy, fun read about female friendships, love, sex, and how to navigate (in both healthy and not-so-healthy ways) the frustrations of romance and men. Keep in mind that it was published in 1992 so there are some truly funny dated pop culture and technology references.

Title – Waiting to Exhale

Author – Terry McMillan

Page count – 409

Rating – Borrow

This book weaves together the stories of four black women in their mid-thirties living in Phoenix: Continue reading “Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)”

Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)

It seems cliché or exaggerated, but I can’t think of a book that’s ever affected me this deeply. I’ve had emotional reactions to books before, but this was different. Several times I had to put the book down because I couldn’t stop crying. It felt so visceral I almost couldn’t breathe. If this wasn’t a library book, I might have actually thrown it across the room. The more I learn about America’s criminal justice system, the more baffled and frustrated and angry I become at how we* can fail people in such spectacular and cruel ways.

(*I almost put “it” here, but the point of this book is about recognizing humanity. When we pretend like we aren’t complicit in the system’s failings, we absolve ourselves of responsibility to change.)

Title – Just Mercy: A story of justice and redemption

Author – Bryan Stevenson

Page count – 314

Rating – Buy. No question. This would be a great book to use for a discussion group, especially at church (Although, while his faith background clearly informs his worldview, it’s not the main point of this story – this is a lesson for anyone and everyone). Continue reading “Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

If I hadn’t read the back cover, I wouldn’t have realized this book is autobiographical. She writes with such humor and feeling that you forget these things really happened to her. You want to root for her, even – or maybe especially – when life makes it seem like she’s a bird trapped in a cage with no way to escape.

Title – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author – Maya Angelou

Page count – 290

Rating – Borrow, although I bought mine at a used book store and will probably keep it because I need to read it at least one more time.

CW: rape/sexual assault. If reading a rape scene could trigger flashbacks for you, make sure you’re in the right mental space before reading this book. Continue reading “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)”

Stand Your Ground (Kelly Brown Douglas)

I feel a bit numb today. Check the political news for this date in history if you’re not sure why. Nevertheless, we persist. Plus I want to move on to a new book and don’t like to do that until I’ve finished my review.

This book is so important, maybe now more than ever. I’ve been very fortunate to have some friends who spontaneously started a book club to discuss each chapter. As we go along, if there are some really good discussion points I want to share with you all, I will update this post.

Title – Stand Your Ground: Black bodies and the justice of God

Author – Kelly Brown Douglas

Page count – 232

Rating – Buy (then read it again, make notes, and give it to all your friends) –> I’m trying something new with this section. Book Riot has a feature called Buy/Borrow/Bypass. I’ll still keep track of the star system on Goodreads, but I’ve found Book Riot’s more helpful in terms of whether/how to recommend. Continue reading “Stand Your Ground (Kelly Brown Douglas)”

Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

The one complaint I have about this book is that the paper isn’t cut straight across. It’s that sort of roughly ruffled edge that makes it hard to quickly flip the pages.

That’s it. That’s the only fault I can find with this book.

Title – Americanah

Author – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Page count – 477 (A relatively hefty read, but the pace never drags)

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing)

There’s a reason this book has been recommended to me by so many people. As I said in my review of Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck, she has a way of using words to engage all your senses and transport the reader into the moment of the story. And Americanah is no exception. Continue reading “Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)”

Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)

This was a fun read. I’ve heard it described as Lord of the Flies but with teenage beauty queens. But instead of tearing each other to pieces, they work together to overcome the obstacles set before them. Girl power at its finest!

Title – Beauty Queens

Author – Libba Bray

Page count – 390

Goodreads rating – 3/5 (liked it)

**I will NOT give away any major spoilers. Some things may not make sense if you haven’t read it, but I won’t reveal anything important.**

This story begins with a plane crash on what appears to be a deserted island. The plane was full of teenage beauty queens headed Continue reading “Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)”

The Cross and the Lynching Tree (James H. Cone)

It’s been fun carrying this book around with me and reading it between classes because whenever someone casually asks, “oh, what are you reading?” I get to hold up the cover and launch into a (brief) description of how the image of the cross and the image of the lynching tree have been interpreted differently in the black and white churches of America. (This is usually met with polite acknowledgement and probably a silent vow to never ask that question again.)

Hopefully there are some people who are intrigued, though, because this is going on the list of books that have been profoundly formative in my understanding of Christian theology! It is – dare I say – prophetic. And although it did take me awhile to read, I would still say the language is pretty accessible for such an academic topic.

Title – The Cross and the Lynching Tree

Author – James H. Cone

Page count – 166

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing!)

As mentioned above, this book examines the parallels between the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross in Rome and the brutal lynching of black people in the United States, and how that parallel imagery has been interpreted by the white and black churches in America. Continue reading “The Cross and the Lynching Tree (James H. Cone)”