My Top Books of 2022


Booktube Videos, My top books of 2022, Top Books of the Year / Monday, July 17th, 2023

 

“So begins Imbolo Mbue’s powerful second novel, How Beautiful We Were. Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, it tells
the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company.

Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations to the villagers are made—and ignored. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle would last for decades and come at a steep price.”(Goodreads)

 

 

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian—who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.

In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.” (Goodreads description)

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“Indeed Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America–and changed American theater forever.  The play’s title comes from a line in Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which warns that a dream deferred might “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.”” (Goodreads)

 

 

 

 

 

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“Set in the rich farmland of the Salinas Valley, California, this powerful, often brutal novel, follows the interwined destinies of two families – the Trasks and the Hamiltons – whose generations hopelessly re-enact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring the mystery of indentity; the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.” (Goodreads)

 

 

 

 

 

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“The Book of Night Women is a sweeping, startling novel, a true tour de force of both voice and storytelling. It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they and she will come to both revere and fear.

The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been plotting a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age and reveals the extent of her power, they see her as the key to their plans. But when she begins to understand her own feelings and desires and identity, Lilith starts to push at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave woman in Jamaica, and risks becoming the conspiracy’s weak link.

Lilith’s story overflows with high drama and heartbreak, and life on the plantation is rife with dangerous secrets, unspoken jealousies, inhuman violence, and very human emotion between slave and master, between slave and overseer, and among the slaves themselves. Lilith finds herself at the heart of it all. And all of it told in one of the boldest literary voices to grace the page recently–and the secret of that voice is one of the book’s most intriguing mysteries.” (Goodreads)

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“The seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, L’Assommoir (1877) is the story of a woman’s struggle for happiness in working-class Paris. At the center of the story stands Gervaise, who starts her own laundry and for a time makes a success of it. But her husband soon squanders her earnings in the Assommoir, a local drinking spot, and gradually the pair sink into poverty and squalor. L’Assommoir was a contemporary bestseller, outraged conservative critics, and launched a passionate debate about the legitimate scope of modern literature. This new translation captures not only the brutality but the pathos of its characters’ lives.” (Goodreads)

 

 

 

 

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“Set in a mythical backwater Southern town, A Different Drummer is the extraordinary story of Tucker Caliban, a quiet, determined descendant of an African chief who for no apparent reason destroys his farm and heads for parts unknown–setting off a mass exodus of the state’s entire Black population.

Nearly three decades offer its first publication, A Different Drummer remains one of the most trenchant, imaginative, and hard-hitting works of fiction to come out of the bitter struggle for African-American civil rights.” (Goodreads)

 

 

 

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“From podcast host Sutanya Dacres comes  Dinner for One , an unforgettable memoir of how she rebuilt her life after her American-in-Paris fairy tale shattered, starting with cooking dinner for herself in her Montmartre kitchen

When Sutanya Dacres married her French boyfriend and moved to Paris at twenty-seven, she felt like she was living out her very own Nora Ephron romantic comedy. Jamaican-born and Bronx-raised, she had never dreamed she herself could be one of those American women in Paris she admired from afar via their blogs, until she met the man of her dreams one night in Manhattan. A couple of years later, she married her Frenchman and moved to Paris, embarking on her own “happily-ever-after.” But when her marriage abruptly ended, the fairy tale came crashing down around her.

Reeling from her sudden divorce and the cracked facade of that picture-perfect expat life, Sutanya grew determined to mend her broken heart and learn to love herself again. She began by cooking dinner for one in her Montmartre kitchen. Along the way, she builds Parisienne friendships, learns how to date in French, and examines what it means to be a Black American woman in Paris—all while adopting the French principle of pleasure, especially when it comes to good food, and exploring what the concept of self-care really means.” (Goodreads)

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo – a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave — who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East – until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.” (Goodreads)

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“A Woman of Endurance, set in nineteenth-century Puerto Rican plantation society, follows Pola, a deeply spiritual African woman who is captured and later sold for the purpose of breeding future slaves. The resulting babies are taken from her as soon as they are born. Pola loses the faith that has guided her and becomes embittered and defensive. The dehumanizing violence of her life almost destroys her. But this is not a novel of defeat but rather one of survival, regeneration, and reclamation of common humanity.” (Goodreads)

 

 

 

 

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“”Shanghai, 1930s. Shen Shijun, a young engineer, has fallen in love with his colleague, the beautiful Gu Manzhen. He is determined to resist his family’s efforts to match him with his wealthy cousin so that he can marry the woman he truly loves. But dark circumstances–a lustful brother-in-law, a treacherous sister, a family secret–force the two young lovers apart. As Manzhen and Shijun go on their separate paths, they lose track of one another, and their lives become filled with feints and schemes, missed connections and tragic misunderstandings. At every turn, societal expectations seem to thwart their prospects for happiness. Still, Manzhen and Shijun dare to hold out hope–however slim–that they might one day meet again. A glamorous, wrenching tale set against the glittering backdrop of an extraordinary city, Half a Lifelong Romance is a beloved classic from one of the essential writers of twentieth-century China”–” (Goodreads)

 

 

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

 

“A stunning new talent in literary fiction, Nafissa Thompson-Spires grapples with black identity and the contemporary middle class in these compelling, boundary-pushing vignettes.

Each captivating story plunges headfirst into the lives of new, utterly original characters. Some are darkly humorous—from two mothers exchanging snide remarks through notes in their kids’ backpacks, to the young girl contemplating how best to notify her Facebook friends of her impending suicide—while others are devastatingly poignant—a new mother and funeral singer who is driven to madness with grief for the young black boys who have fallen victim to gun violence, or the teen who struggles between her upper middle class upbringing and her desire to fully connect with black culture.

Thompson-Spires fearlessly shines a light on the simmering tensions and precariousness of black citizenship. Her stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body. Boldly resisting categorization and easy answers, Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an original and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.” (Goodreads)

Blackwell’s: https://www.blackwells.co.uk?a_aid=BrownGirlReading

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