Celebrate Black History Month with Some Amazing Fiction

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Welcome to February! What is with February and being all romantic and lovely and all those good things in the world? It’s like December is all about Christmas even though there’s so much more going on in December than just Christmas.

But February is also Black History Month and being an advocate for diverse reads, I’ve got to put in a plug for some of my very favorite reads. You can go hardcore and read Frederick Douglass or Malcolm X. You can listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on repeat. Do whatever it is you want to do, but do it in celebration of black culture.

Before I get into my quick list of recommended reading for the month, I want to mention (as I tend to do from time to time) that diverse reads are so important. Many people (including myself) believe that racism is an extension of fear and ignorance. Why not break that stigma and read about other cultures!

Books about cultures aside from our own (or even our own, let’s not forget we come from somewhere!) opens up our minds to how other people live and exist in the world. We are humans and each of us holds traditions and heritage and culture different from the person you’re sitting next to. Why not celebrate our differences, learn a little bit about being someone else, and spread the good love across this universe.

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Anyway, here’s a few of my favorite books to read during this month as well as a few I’ve got on my TBR for the rest of February. Let’s celebrate diversity and learn more about what it’s like to be on the other side of the pendulum OF LIFE!

Continue reading “Celebrate Black History Month with Some Amazing Fiction”

September 2016 Wrap Up

I can’t believe that it’s already October. The cool weather is really settling in Brooklyn and I’m pulling out the scarves, jackets, and hot cups of tea. It’s my favorite time of the year and it’s also the perfect reason to go out and read (more than I usually do).

Anyway, here’s my September Wrap Up. I had a few books on my list in September, but as always, my plans changed (lol). I only read four books in September, but I feel like I’m more enriched by my reads. Here’s my reads:

  1. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (5/5 stars) – I got this book in my Owlcrate box in August, but haven’t had the chance to read it until now. This was such a sweet little read. I love doing “in-betweeners,” which are books that you read to separate out some of the more heavy and serious reads. Not to say that this book isn’t serious. It’s the kind of book that doesn’t remind you of the strife and struggle of reality.  I don’t know if you deal with this kind of thing, but when I read too many serious books I get some serious anxiety about life. When you’re so enveloped by a book, you forget what’s reality and what’s the fiction and in those situations, the anxiety is real. If you haven’t felt anxiety after reading a serious book then you’ve got a stronger mind than me.
  2. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4.5/5 stars) – I was reading One True Loves as another “in-betweener” because I wasn’t ready to read something serious yet. However, as I got into it, I realized that this was a bit more serious. Dead husbands and finding love and finding old loves again. Those kinds of conversations are reserved for the reality of the world and not the fun world of “in-betweeners.” But I fell in love with this book the way Emma, the main character, fell in love twice. No spoilers here, but it’s really difficult to choose someone you want to be with when you have feelings for more than one person. I will keep the rest to myself, but I strongly suggest this book.
  3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (5/5 stars) – Alright, when I talk about serious books, this is a serious book. However, it’s an important book and something I think everyone should read. If you’ve ever asked yourself what your ethnicity and heritage/background is, then you should read this book. Coming from a very family-centric environment, it was frustrating for me to read about a family lineage where it gets so muddled because of something as barbaric as slavery and war. It reminds me of the Syrian refugees ripped from their families and their homes. I think with modern technology they may be able to be together again, but back in the 19th century, that wasn’t an option. It brings a sad tear to my eye knowing that some families will never be together again. Everyone should read this if only to value the families they have.
  4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (4/5 stars) – I read this one for Banned Books Week. There is something about Toni Morrison’s voice that compels me to read more and pushes me away from her. Her words are haunting and visceral like looking at a surrealist painting. The Bluest Eye is the first novel she’s published and if you’ve ever struggled with your own identity and accepting who you are, then you should definitely read this book. In the end, the moral of the story is that you shouldn’t struggle to try and be something you’re not. Love yourself for who you are and enjoy your youth as much as you can.

Enjoy!

 

Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.

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Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi’s novel moves through histories and geographies and captures–with outstanding economy and force– the troubled spirit of our own nation. She has written a modern masterpiece

Rating: 5/5 Stars

My thoughts

A remarkable read. I loved every single word of this book. I don’t think I’ve come across a novel like this in a really long time.

The story follows the bloodlines of two half-sisters; one who marries a white trader in Ghana while the other is shipped off to America to be sold as a slave. Both of them experience the prejudices and hardships of being a person of color within the last 100 years.

While in the middle of reading this book, a guy on the street asked me for directions to the train. Instead of just pointing out to him where to go, I asked him to follow me since we were going in the same direction. He asked where I was from and what part of Brooklyn I lived so I asked the same. “BedStuy, but I got out of there because I had enough,” he said.

“Did you always live in Brooklyn?” I asked curiously.

“No, I made my way up here from Mississippi with my mom,” he replied.

It was uncanny how I was in the middle of reading a book on families moving and striving for a better life for their young ones and then I encounter a man who’s family has done the same thing. I don’t think I would have had the same amount of curiosity for him and how he grew up if I wasn’t reading this book.

Honestly, everyone should read this book and other diverse books. Homegoing is one of those books that opens my eyes to the reality of the world. It makes me sad that some people can’t trace their ancestry back any further than a few generations. People made sacrifices in order for other people to survive. Some people are lucky enough to have their family heirlooms passed down generation after generation. Others, not so much. I wouldn’t have known that had I not given this book a shot. We read so many novels about the same characters going through the same hardships, so it’s good for readers like us to branch out and learn a little bit more about something we’re not so comfortable with.

This book made me want to call my mother and ask for more information about my family. I want to know my lineage and being an Asian American, it makes me want to connect further with my roots.

This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others. Those who were there in the olden days, they told stories to the children so that the children would know, so that the children could tell stories to their children. And so on, and so on.

I can’t say it any more clearly that people should read books like Homegoing. It will broaden your mind and make you less ignorant of the person standing next to you.