ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Days 19 & 20

 

Day 19 – Celebrate Good Times

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate good times other than with friend, family, great food and drink. So this cookbook Jubilee: Recipes from two centuries of African American Cooking by Toni TiptonMartin came immediately to mind. I have a thing for cookbooks. I can read them like novels. Cooking I feel is a great way to get to know someone, understand how they function on many different levels. However this post is about celebration and Jubilee is the cookbook to bring some serious flavor to the festivities. A few of the recipes I’m interested in trying out on my friends and family are the orange biscuits for a nice brunch, the braised lamb shanks with peanut sauce for Sunday lunch, and the moist rich Devil’s Food Cake for afternoon tea. Of course there are many more interesting recipes as well as some historical information through recounting all about the tradition and background of the different recipes. She even cites other cookbooks she used to do research to choose these recipes for the book. I highly recommend it. The video below Tipton-Martin discusses her first hit cookbook called The Jemima Code: two centuries of African American Cookbooks.

 

https://youtu.be/W6ZSryGTjyE

 

 

Day 20 – Published in September

I thought I was going to have to comb my shelves for ages to find a book published in September, but actually I remembered that both Bluebird, Bluebird and Heaven, My Home were both published in September. Even though I decided to look to see how long it would take me to find another book published in September and sure enough four books later I was holding Dear Haiti, Love Alaine in my hands. I received this book from a book buddy, Forsaken707, Kesha as a birthday gift. haven’t picked it up yet but can’t wait since I’ve noticed its format is epistolary, notes, emails and text. Love when authors use letters to write stories. The special thing about this book is that it’s written by two sisters who are Haitian-American. So I suspect it will contain themes about integration, immigration, Haitian culture, and race. Once I read it I’ll surely be back to let you know what I think about it. Check the video below where the authors talk about what their goals were in writing Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

 

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ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 17 & 18

 

Day 17 – A 2010s Classic

I couldn’t resist choosing Lighthead by Terrance Hayes. This was the first collection I read. Y him which wasn’t suggested to me by Danielle from Dani! Dany! Danie! On Instagram. I was not disappointed. His poetry is meaningful, intentional, and creative. I know poetry can often times turn readers off, but Hayes’ poetry is not at difficult to understand or appreciate. Some of my favorite poems from this collection are Lighthead’s Guide to Addiction, Fish Head for Katrina, and Twenty-six Imaginary T-shirts. His poems come to life when spoken aloud. Not only do these poems have deep meaning but they also have beautiful flow and rhythm that you can appreciate in the video just below. Enjoy!

 

Day 18 – Musical Youth YA

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I don’t often read YA novels but this category immediately made me think about On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. This second novel is even better than her first The Hate U Give. She really pulled out all the stops with characters that feel like real people, a more complex storyline, and a bit of rap to top it all off. I listened to it on audiobook and found that it was read to perfection. I highly recommend it. I can say I was genuinely invested in Bri’s story. I can’t wait to see what Angie Thomas writes next. You can check her out in the video below talking about this hit second book.

 

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 22

baublesI fell upon The White Tiger in 2008 when it won the Booker Prize.   Of all the books on that shortlist, it stuck out to me the most.  I really enjoy reading about Indian culture.  I feel like with every book I read I learn something new about their culture.  That’s really stimulating.

This novel thrusts us into a story following a character whose name we don’t know at first, but that doesn’t matter because we are immediately interested in finding out who this person is.  Eventually something will happen that will alter this character’s view of his situation.  We will see him search for freedom.  Freedom from all different things and situations.  Life isn’t easy and there aren’t thousands of solutions either which this character wrestles with constantly.

The best thing about this story is the manner in which it’s told. I promise midway through you’ll be rooting for the protagonist and you’ll hate everything that’s impeding his possibilities of progress.  Written with originality, The White Tiger is a book that will make you reflect on life and your place in it.  I recommend it to readers who enjoy books by Indian writers, literary fiction, by Booker Prize winners.

Overview:

“Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life—having nothing but his own wits to help him along.

Born in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for his village’s wealthiest man, two house Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man’s (very unlucky) son. From behind the wheel of their Honda City car, Balram’s newB0015DWLD0 world is a revelation. While his peers flip through the pages of Murder Weekly (“Love — Rape — Revenge!”), barter for girls, drink liquor (Thunderbolt), and perpetuate the Great Rooster Coop of Indian society, Balram watches his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink liquor (single-malt whiskey), and play their own role in the Rooster Coop. Balram learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, and refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles (all but one). He also finds a way out of the Coop that no one else inside it can perceive.

Balram’s eyes penetrate India as few outsiders can: the cockroaches and the call centers; the prostitutes and the worshippers; the ancient and Internet cultures; the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger. And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn’t create virtue, and money doesn’t solve every problem — but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.

The White Tiger recalls The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, and narrative genius, with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation —and a startling, provocative debut.” (The White Tiger, inside flap)

 

 

 

The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

Publisher:  Free Press

Pages:  320

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 18

baublesI had only read one excerpt from Alexandre Dumas’ writing in French many years ago, but this past October and November we all had the pleasure of reading in full The Count of Monte Cristo.  I say all for those of you that joined in on my read along of this 1,276 page mammoth novel.  Full of humor, intrigue, and large doses of shadiness, The Count of Monte Cristo kept me engrossed.  So much so that I couldn’t be bothered to read very much alongside it.  Beautiful writing that eases the reader into the period, the well constructed storyline, and the marvelously developed characters symbolize top reasons why the novel is so enchanting.   It’s lovely to see how the rope of revenge tightens slowly and accurately over all the right people, at the right time, and without too much work.  That’s the beauty of fiction.

This 19th century French classic has stood and will continue to stand the test of time.  There’s something to say for a novel that uses themes that will always remain relevant – jealousy, revenge, affairs, business deals gone bad, etc., but more importantly they need
to be used in the right way.  I recommend The Count of Monte Cristo for readers who enjoy reading the classics, French classics, and stories of revenge. Not to mention, this Penguin Clothbound edition pictured below would make a wonderful Christmas gift!

I was so proud once I’d finished this huge book.  I also kept thinking about how interesting a modern retelling of this story would be.  Now that I can scratch one book off my list of books to read by Dumas, I’m looking forward to picking up The Three Muskateers next, hopefully in 2020, which is the first book in the series called The d’Artagnan Romances.  Check out the live chat below where I discuss The Count of Monte Cristo with Musical Tati and Michael Reads!  We had a great time and Loved the book.  I’d like to give a big Thank You to those of you who took the time to catch us live on YouTube and participated in the discussion.  I also urge you to go to Youtube and Count of Monte Cristocheck out these two Booktubers, who make superb videos. 🙂

 

Overview:

“Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.” (The Count of Monte Cristo, Goodreads description)

 

 

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Publisher:  Penguin Classics

Pages:  1,296

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 8

baublesStarting our second week already and I’ll be talking about another one of my favorite books that I rave about all the time and that’s Jam on the Vine.  Jam on the Vine is LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s 2015 debut novel.  This is another novel that literally flew right under the radar at its release.  People I don’t understand why!  This book has everything that could interest avid readers like us.

Walking in the footsteps of storytellers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Barnett’s writing is rich and full of life.  She isn’t just telling us a story; she’s bringing us along with her characters.  This passionate story follows the lives of two African-American women journalists at the beginning of the twentieth century and of the existence of African-American newspapers.  I was immediately wrapped up in the how and what of black American newspapers and its importance at this time period.  Barnett doesn’t just woo us with a good story, she gives us information about this traumatic period in America of Jim Crow and depicts the importance and difficulty for blacks to be journalists and to print newspapers.  Jam on the Vine made me want to read The Defender How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America by Ethan Michaeli.  I haven’t read it yetjam but it’s definitely on my nonfiction must reads list, even though it’s a little over 500 pages.  It will be a challenging read but one of necessity to know more about black American history.

I recommend this book to readers who appreciate excellent writing, a bit of sensuality, great food descriptions, historical fiction novels, interesting characters, and stories set in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Overview:

“Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown’s racially-biased employers.” (Jam on the Vine, inside flap)

 

 

Jam on the Vine – La Shonda Katrice Barnett

Publisher:  Grove Press

Pages:  316

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 4

baubles24 Books to Christmas is really making me look back on my past reading. There are so many really great books that I’ve read in the recent past but also in the far away past.  I decided to go with The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race for day 4.

The Fire This Time  was released in 2016.  It is an anthology that was edited by National Book Award Winner, Jesmyn Ward.  It’s a collection of 17 essays by some of the top black American writers of the moment. Discussing race these essays are all poignant and thought-provoking.  While its title is inspired by Baldwin’s, The Fire Next Time, Jesmyn Ward brought these essays together as a response to the ongoing atrocities happening to blacks and people of color in the United States.  You surely won’t forget them.

Sadly I feel like this collection was hardly pushed in the book influencer community at its release.  I wonder if that was because of the subject matter, or because it’s an anthology, or both.  Please comment below and let me know what you think the reason could be.

You’ll read powerful essays from Isabel Wilkerson, Kiese Laymon, Mitchell S. Jackson, Edwidge Danticat, Daniel José Older, and more.  The Fire This Time is accessible and not very long for those that find long essay collections a put off.  The collection is separated into 3 parts:  Legacy, Reckoning, and Jubilee, which represent some of “the darkest corners of American history” (The Fire This Time inside book flap)the fire this time.   I recommend this essay collection to readers looking for and excellent nonfiction read, readers who desire to learn more about living in the United States as a black person, and who are interested in reading nonfiction pieces from some of their favorite black authors.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward

Publisher:  Scribner

Pages:  215

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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24 Book to Christmas – Day 2

Today’s recommendation was an easy choice –  The Word : Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing edited by Marita Golden came to mind as soon as I woke up this morning.  I read The Word last month as a recommendation by my friend Rosa.  She said it was a book she found enlightening and informative. Agreed. The Word was that and much more.

If you don’t know who  Marita Golden is, she wrote a novel called The Wide Circumference of Love which was released in 2017.  I haven’t had the pleasure of reading it or any of her other works for the moment you better believe it is on my #backlistbooksbliss discovery list for 2020.  The premise of The Word is reading 13 interviews from various writers conducted by Marita Golden about how reading and writing transformed them. You’ll read inspiring interviews from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Pearl Cleage, J. California Cooper, Edwidge Danticat, Nikki Giovanni and many more.

I picked this one up for Nonfiction November and it was a lovely short but inspirational read.  What more to get me in the mood to write more frequently and with intention.  If this book taught me anything it’s that there is no wrong way or right way to write a book.  I recommend it to understand some very well known writers better.  I also recommend it to people who are looking for black authors they may not know but should read because they are all very important ones. Last but not least, you’ll get a bunch of backlist book recommendations from brilliant writers to round off your TBR lists. The Word is a hidden jewel that should not be missed.  It would make a wonderful Christmas gift to avid readers and people who are interested in writing.

The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing –  edited by Marita Golden

Publisher: Broadway Paperbacks

Pages: 209

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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24 Books to Christmas: Day 1

baublesI know it’s been a while since I’ve been on here but my life took quite the turn mid-June and through me off the track of a lot of the things I had planned to do, in particular here on the blog. So let’s get on to the positive. What is 24 books to Christmas? 24 Books to Christmas is my chance to introduce you to 24 books I think you’d like and that you could even give as a gift for Christmas or any other celebratory moment.  So let’s get started with the first book:

Born on a Tuesday is going to be the first book I’m recommend.  I had the pleasure of rereading it last week to participate in a literary event that took place on Saturday in Paris hosted by Book and Brunch Paris and La Cene Littéraiare.  Elnathan John, winner of Le Prix les Afriques, was there answering our questions and speaking passionately about Born on a Tuesday, Be(com)ing Nigerian, and on the importance of black authors telling their own stories.

Born on a Tuesday is a coming-of-age story of Ahmad alias Dantala.  The story begins with Dantala hanging with a gang of street boys in Bayan Layi.  We continue to follow is growth as he changes while Islamic fundamentalism is growing in the very mosque that is his home.  this story is perfectly written in an endearing first person and Elnathan John leaves no stone unturned concerning the character development and storyline.

I recommend this one for lovers of Nigerian literature, coming-of-age stories, and stories img_1643that delve into culture and religion.  The book does contain some sexual content and violence neither of which are gratuitous.  I’d say it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and in 2017 when I read it the first time.

Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John

Publisher: Cassava Republic

Pages: 261

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

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