I went through a short poetry phase in high school, sparked by a unit we did in our AP English class. For whatever reason, that interest dropped off. This year’s Reading Challenge saw me pick it back up, and it has breathed new life into my reading routine. Not every author or type of poetry will speak to every person so don’t be turned off to poetry as a genre if you don’t happen to like what an authority figure has deemed “proper” or “good” poetry. And if you’re not into whatever author or type of poetry is in vogue, that’s fine, too. (If rupi kaur isn’t your thing, we won’t judge you.) I find that it’s like viewing art at a museum: don’t pay attention to the crowds or what’s highlighted in the guidebooks; find whatever speaks to you and go enjoy that.
Title/Year Published – Counting Descent (2016)
Author – Clint Smith (go follow his twitter too)
Page count – 70
Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 4/5
This slim volume focuses on the theme of race, specifically what it means to live as a black man in America. Family relationships and histories are central to this story-telling. Continue reading “Counting Descent (Clint Smith)”
If your Christian theology leads you to a Gospel that is not “Good News” to all – including, and especially, people who live on the margins of society – then it’s not the Gospel.
Title (Year Published) – Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (2004)
Author – Miguel A. De La Torre
Page count – 264
Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 4/5
Hoo boy. This book got me all riled up. For the last few years – although the last 10 months have amplified things – I’ve been constantly going back and forth between 1) devouring the books/words/testimonies of liberation theologians and valuing the good the Christian Gospel can do when it is enacted in people’s lives in healing, sustaining, life-giving ways, and 2) being consumed by anger at people who claim Christianity yet act in ways and perpetuate systems that oppress the very people the Gospel is supposed to be Good News for – the poor, the sick, the hungry, the homeless. Christians seem to think they can say a prayer and forget that we’re supposed to act, to actually be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus. Continue reading “Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (Miguel A. De La Torre)”
This is a very good book. And because it’s written with a young audience in mind, the writing is relatively easy to read. But if you’re looking for a story with a happy ending, this one’s not it. This is not a story where justice is done and people get what it would seem they deserve. It is a story of hope and loss and determination and family.
Title (Year Published) – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976)
Author – Mildred D. Taylor
Page count – 276
Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 5/5
(CW: the n-word, racist violence)
Cassie Logan and her family – mother, father, and three brothers – live on a farm in Mississippi in 1933. The Logan family is luckier than most in that they own the land on which they farm, and as the back of the book says: “It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride – no matter how much others may degrade them, the Logans possess something that no one can take away. This story focuses on the children’s experiences – attending a segregated, underfunded school; fearing attacks by the Klan; and leaning on the love and joy of their family. Continue reading “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor)”
No, I didn’t finish this book in just one day! I was reading this alongside my last two books and happened to finish it at about the same time as Shrill. So you get two reviews in two days…Lucky you 🙂
Title – Nobody Knows My Name
Author – James Baldwin
Page count – 190
Rating* – Borrow
(*Rating system taken from Book Riot’s “Buy/Borrow/Bypass” tag)
This book is actually a collection of essays. Baldwin did write several novels, but he is perhaps even more well-known as an essayist. I picked up a few of his books after watching the Raoul Peck documentary I Am Not Your Negro (based on one of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscripts) and watching a few videos of speeches he gave (like this one – CW: the n-word). There’s something about his cadence when he speaks that keeps me enraptured. Continue reading “Nobody Knows My Name (James Baldwin)”
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)”
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)”
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)”