ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 9 & 10

Day 9 – Word

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates was the best representation of Word. img_2074 This letter written from a black father to his black son is a poignant must-read from Coates.  It was recommended by Toni Morrison, who deemed it to be required reading.  I hadn’t realized but apparently Coates is reading the audiobook.  I feel like the next time I pick this one up I’ll read and listen to it simultaneously.  Just to get an idea of this book, it begins like this, “Son, Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.” (Between the World and Me, p.5). It’s only 152 pages but you’ll be moved reading this emotional letter.



Day 10 – Heavy Read(s)

These are a few of the heavy reads I could find in my stash.  I highly recommend three of the five in the stack – Heavy by Kiese Laymon which started my 2020 reading with a bang.  Excellent!  I read Hunger and simultaneously listened to the audiobook read by its author Roxane Gay.  What a poignant read that made me feel all kind of emotions as well.  The third book on this list is Beloved.  I really remember how this book made meimg_2077 profoundly sad. These three heavy books will surely become modern classics because they take readers to raw realness.  Now The Darkest Child we already talked about, very heavy but I will definitely be checking it out, especially since a lot of my followers over on Instagram highly recommended it to me. And last but not least Medical Apartheid which was recommended to me by a friend.  This one should be a must read for everybody so they can learn about the contributions black Americans have brought to the medical field.  Despite the heaviness of this book I will be checking it out in November for Nonfiction November.  Can you think of any other heavy books that you’d like to recommend?  Let’s chat below.


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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 16Anticipated New Release(s)

Like who doesn’t want to read any of these four?  Awesome! I’m expecting loads from all four of them. I hope not to be disappointed. These should all give me lots of food for thought. Which new releases are you anticipating?

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#ReadSoulLit Day 15 Fave Memoir(s)

I read these 2 memoirs amazing memoirs last year.  They both touched me in different ways and I don’t think I’ll be able to forget them any time soon.  You all know how I feel about Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay – powerful, poignant, unflinchingly honest, and full of teachable moments for everyone, and so is The Mother of Black Hollywood , which is a testament to what it takes to face bipolarism, sex addiction, and maintain and be a successful actress.  That memoir depicted the strength and determination of Jenifer Lewis who is equally brilliant, talented, funny, and so real in the way she talks about all that she’s been through.  This book had so many ups and downs, I really didn’t know what was going to happen next.  It’s great to see where she gets all her talent.  All you have to do is follow her over on her Instagram page and you get why she’s so lovable and how talented she is.  I could have also added to these two memoirs, Born a Crime because it was just as edifying.  Trevor Noah growing up in apartheid South Africa as a mixed-race boy raised by a strong-willed, black mother definitely was not easy; however that mother/son relationship was everything to read about.  It was inspiring!  Last year has given me a new look into reading memoirs and I don’t want to lose that great feeling I caught. So, I’m going to be reading more memoirs this year. Can you guess which ones? Let know below.  Check out the videos below which will show you how Fantastic both these women are! Enjoy!

Hunger – Roxane Gay, hardcover, 304 pages (Harper Collins)

The Mother Of Black Hollywood – Jenifer Lewis, hardcover, 306 pages (Amistad)


Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body

According to my electronic dictionary, hunger means a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat or a strong desire or craving.  I must say that Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body was named appropriately.  She has a hunger but so did I as a reader and lover of her writing.  I have to admit I didn’t love Difficult Women.  I couldn’t understand the emphasis on these lost women who found themselvesimg_4070 in the most appalling situations.  I kept asking myself why.

I have read all of Gay’s works, except An Untamed State.  It is the novel I seem to be putting off.  I have been anticipating its true life brutally; even more now that I’ve read Hunger.  Nevertheless, I will be reading it and completing Gay’s list of writing.  I feel that now having finished Hunger, I understand her a bit more and can bring myself to accept the brutality and authenticity of her writing with my eyes wide open.  Difficult Women presented me a real challenge, as did Hunger.

Hunger is a confession of sorts.  It discusses sexual assault and recovering from that horrible experience alone.  It also discusses being a big woman and all the challenges that she faces from society and family.  Gay gave me a lot to think about in this memoir – everything from fat shaming, to eating disorders, to dating, family, and more.  She BREAKS it down!  There were things she speaks about in Hunger that I can relate to because I am also a big woman.  When she said “It is a powerful lie to equate thinness with self-worth.” (Hunger, p. 135), I just wanted to rent a billboard and have that phrase written on it.

The best thing about this novel for me was its natural perfect progression.  It begins and ends with the right tone.  We learn quite a lot about Gay’s feelings on many different subjects and I commend her for her raw openness.  She is brave, yet vulnerable.  I couldn’t begin to imagine how honest this memoir was going to be.  She is unbiased and unabashedly honest about some of the deepest problems in her life.  Hunger is a way for Gay to exorcise those demons from her past.  I’d like to think this memoir could help some people out there to accept and understand themselves better and to get help if they need it.

“I am realizing I am not worthless. Knowing that feels good.  My sad stories will always be there. I am going to keep telling them even though I hate having the stories to tell.  These sad stories will always weigh on me, though that burden lessens the more  I realize  who I am and what I am worth.” (Hunger, p. 251)

I read this book while listening to the audiobook with Roxane Gay’s voice – stong, unflinching and expressive.  She manages to make the reader smirk and smile despite the seriousness of the memoir.  She even uses pop culture and real examples, in order to make her thoughts crystal clear.  I recommend listening to the audiobook if you’re thinking about reading Hunger.  I’d even suggest reading Hunger first even if you haven’t read any of her other works.  Watch the video below where Roxane Gay is interviewed in Australia about Difficult Women.  It’s EXCELLENT!  Roxane Gay doesn’t sugar coat anything and that’s what makes her so awe-inspiring.

My copy:  Hunger  A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay (Harper Collins), p. 304

My rating:  * * * * *

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imageHaving read but one short collection this entire year, I’m ending 2014 with a really good one. I was gifted this signed copy by a friend and I am so grateful. Ayiti is Roxane Gay’s debut novel of short stories. It confronts the reader with Haiti, the good and the bad. It consists of fifteen short stories all carrying different themes about Haiti and the  Haitian diaspora.

All the stories have a flavor of island living that is hard to ignore. The first four stories recount fitting in in the United States as an immigrant, being different because one has an accent, and people’s reactions to those differences. The other stories relate Haitians’ desires to leave their country for a better life in the United States. Gay depicts the difficulty from both sides – the Haitian that emigrates and the Haitian that stays back home, very well. Each story details aspects that we the reader may not be prepared to read. We are confronted with the dark side of life in Haiti and immigrant life in the United States.  At times, her stories take on an erotic tone, but it isn’t at all gratuitous.

Kidnapping and prostitution are two of the darkest subjects in this collection. The fifth story Things I Know About Fairy Tales speaks specifically about being kidnapped. It is the short story that became An Untamed State. I haven’t read it yet but even as a short story it was dark, menacing, and heightened the senses.  I’m curious to see how this short story develops into An Untamed State.

Haiti is a country that seems to get under its citizens’ skin and is difficult to leave. The idea of leaving for good seems to be impossible for some and a necessity for others. Haiti’s breezy beaches, gritty cities, simple lifestyle yet fearful, dangerous, and imminent violence are haunting. Ayiti is definitely a short story collection worth checking out. It gives an excellent view of Roxane Gay’s poignant and refreshing writing style. I just love the way she adds pop culture references into her storytelling. It helps the reader understand even better what she’s trying to say and gives particular life to her short stories.