The Last Thing You Surrender – Leonard Pitts, Jr. Live Discussion

This was a great discussion to end Black History Month.  We were also blessed to have Leonard Pitts, Jr for the second half of the discussion.  He’s really brilliant! This live discussion contains spoilers so if you haven’t finished reading you might want to wait until you do. Enjoy!

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself 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!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

Overview: My reading in 2019

cropped-IMG_0185-2.jpg

Quote:  “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…. The man who never reads only lives one.” 

                                                                                                  – George R.R. Martin

2020 has rolled in with a bang and I hope it’s going to be a good one and an excellent start to a new decade.  I thought I’d take this time to reflect over my year of reading.  That’s the best way to get rid of what isn’t working and to introduce some new things to refresh.  For starters, my reading last year could best be described as “catch up reading”.  I was doing fine last year until I fell down the stairs and broke my malleolus bone in June. That’s when everything went to pot.  I wasn’t reading and nor was I journaling.  My broken ankle took up all of my energy.

However, I did get through a few audiobooks, Queenie ♥ and On the Come Up ♥♥♥♥♥ and a quarter of A Book of American Martys which I hope to be rereading and finishing at some point this year.  Once I could go back to work in September, that’s when things became hectic.  Rescheduling and planning classes became the highlight of my day.  It took a few weeks to get used to my schedule alongside physical therapy visits twice a week.

In October and November, I spearheaded a read along of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.  What a pleasure that was!  This was a fantastic read that I highly recommend and that I will surely reread one day.  My Penguin Clothbound edition comes in at 1,276 pages, making it the longest book I read this year.  November announced Nonfiction November, which is when I try to read at least 3 nonfiction novels.  That was a fail, I only read one but an excellent one, The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ by Marita Golden.  At the end of November I had the honor of attending a joint literary event in Paris with La Cene Littéraire and Book and Brunch.  The event was in honor of Elanthan John winning Le Prix les Afriques for Born on a Tuesday.  I was there to help with translation and it was a wonderful time.  Elnathan John was very interesting and gave us all food for thought
on discussing why he writes in English among other topics.

From there the 3rd of December was the book launch of the anthology,  Where We Started:  Stories of Living Between Worlds edited by Alecia McKenzie and Anna-MariaBamberger, where you can find my first published short story called Sanctuary.IMG_1782  We were five writers present at The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore in the 6th arrondisement of Paris and four reading an excerpt from our short stories.  That was aproud moment for me.  If you’re interested in reading this short story collection you can click here to purchase an ebook.  From there December finished fairly quickly.  Here’s where the catch up reading took place, from December 21 – December 28th, I found myself reading 6 books to finish the year.  I had to take advantage that I could lie around reading most of the day.  It was cold and there was no wifi so what’s left to do but read because French tv sucks!  So I finished my year with Before We Were Yours ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ which really surprised me. I was sure I wouldn’t like it and I actually found it really quite good.  I then went on to The Girl with the Hazel Eyes ♥ ♥ ♥ ∨, debut Caribbean writer, The Nickel Boys ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, Red at the Bone ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, In West Mill  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, and finally Happy Parents ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (a much needed comic by Zep).  I couldn’t have ended my year of reading on a better note.

My reading stats according to Goodreads:

The Longest Book:

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

The Shortest Book:

Princess Arabella is a Big SisterMylo Freeman

Average length:

273 pages (This number needs to be higher!)

My average rating:

3.7 stars

Highest rated book I read on Goodreads:

Dear ancestors: Poems and Reflections on the African Diaspora ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Books read: (Pledged to read 50):

59

Pages Read: (This number needs to be higher too!)

16,113

So what’s the plan for my reading in 2020?  Well I’m trying to keep things simple and tie up loose ends.

  1.  Read books on my shelves!
  2.  Read #backlistbooksbliss ♥
  3. Finish up series if possible
  4. Finish up fiction books from Toni Morisson – Love and Paradise and reread Sula, Roxane Gay – An Untamed State, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie – Purple Hibiscus and The thing Around Your Neck
  5. Read 100 books! This one is going to be quite the challenge. I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I figure I need the push to see if I can do it.  If I don’t oh well. I’ll try again next year.
  6. Continue reading Caribbean Lit

What are your reading plans for 2020?

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!  Thank you for supporting the blog! 🙂

 

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!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

 

24 Books to Christmas – Day 16

baublesToday’s recommendation I discovered in the spring of 2015.  Water Street was one of the first few short story collections I had read in a long time that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Fourteen connected  short stories set in Stanford, Kentucky in the black community.  I was amazed  to see how well Wilkinson linked each character and unveiled their secrets.  Water Street has that southern literary flair that I love to read.  The style of writing is through short narratives and monologues.  You’re probably thinking that this makes the short stories feel unfinished but in fact they are full of impressions and feelings that are familiar.

Crystal Wilkinson is a wonderful writer who develops her stories through her characters.  She doesn’t need an excess of pages to make the reader understand something.  I envy her capacity to shape the story with the minimum means.  It’s a gift in writing.  I strongly urge you to check out this author who should be praised more.  I also recommend three of her other works that I enjoyed just as much as Water Street, Blackberries, Blackberries (short story collection), The Birds of Opulence (short water streetnovel), and Holler (short story).

I recommend Water Street to readers who enjoy short story collections, African-American literature, and southern literature.  Check out Wilkinson in the video below talking about her writing and where her inspiration comes from.  She has quite the personality and you should follow her over on Instagram at crystalwilki.

 

Overview:

On Water Street, every person has at least two stories to tell. One story that the light of day shines on and the other that lives only in the pitch black of night, the kind of story that a person carries beneath their breastbones for safekeeping. WATER STREET examines the secret lives of neighbours and friends who live on Water Street in a small town in Kentucky. Assured and intimate, dealing with love, loss, truth and tragedy, Wilkinson weaves us in and out of the lives of Water Street’s inhabitants.

 

 

Water Street – Crystal Wilkinson

Publisher:  Toby Press

Pages:  179

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!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

24 Books to Christmas – Day 11

baublesThe first James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room and I really enjoyed it. I marveled over his ability to write a novel with so many layered themes. I also was wondering why it had taken me so long to finally read one of his novels.

I notice that this is often the first novel that readers online seem to flock to by Baldwin and then they don’t pick anything else up by him and if they do they’ll read The Fire Next Time but not any of his other novels.  So my recommendation today is Another Country.  This is hands down my favorite Baldwin novel so far.  It is a must read.  However, I haven’t got to Just Above My Head yet, but it’s on my 2020 TBR list.

Another Country is a story that is beautifully written and full of complexity.  It’s starts innocently but slowly the story confronts the reader with the difficulties for blacks and whites to coexist.  The themes of white liberalism and sexual freedom are both prevalent subjects as well today.  Another Country will make readers contemplate current and past US race relations.  You’ll definitely want to speak to someone about it once you’re done.  It would be great for a book club discussion.  I recommend Another Country to readers who enjoy Baldwin’s writing, like reading books with heavy themes on race relations in the US, and enjoy reading books set in 1950s New York.  Check out my review video below.

Overview:

“Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country isanother country a novel of passions–sexual, racial, political, artistic–that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime. In a small set of friends, Baldwin imbues the best and worst intentions of liberal America in the early 1970s.” (Another Country, back cover)

 

 

Another Country – James Baldwin

Publisher:  Penguin Classics

Pages:  448

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!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

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: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

24 Books to Christmas – Day 6

baublesToday’s recommendation for 24 Books to Christmas is The Healing by Jonathan Odell.  I first became acquainted with this book on Denise’s YouTube channel ArtBooksLife. My curiosity was immediately peaked when I heard her talking about it. I couldn’t resist. I immediately purchased it but didn’t get around to reading it until 2016. I had the pleasure of buddy reading it with another Booktuber, Pretty Brown Eye Reader.  We had an excellent time discussing the story and marveled at the complexity and originality that is found in it.

The Healing is a slave narrative set in the back drop of Pre-Civil War South. It’s a story not at all like most we are used to reading in this genre.  From character development to story pacing to themes , Odell took the time to make sure this story was written in the most authentic way possible. In his Notes to the Reader Odell said, “Through writing The Healing and by stitching together my own family history, I have discovered the truth in the old saying “Facts can explain us, but only story will save us.”  Granada alias Gran Gran and Polly Shine are the best characters in the book.  You’ll surely find Polly Shine the healingintriguing and charismatic.  Both of these characters are unforgettable.

Overview:

“Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.” (The Healing, cover flap)

I recommend The Healing to readers who appreciate slave narratives and to readers who don’t like slave narratives because they feel they are repetitive and never bring anything new to the table.  This would also make a great Christmas gift to those who might enjoy a book that they probably haven’t heard of, since this book was virtually not talked about enough when it came out.  Check out the video below of Jonathan Odell talking about race. It’s an excellent video to understand better Odell’s background and why he writes what he writes.

 

 

The Healing – Jonathan Odell

Publisher:  Nan A.Talese/Doubleday

Pages:  330

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!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

 

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!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading