Saturday, March 4, 2017

Bookish Haul: January and February 2017



There is something about buying a new book after a stressful day that makes my kneading anxiety tolerable.  Well, Xanax helps, too, but pill bottles can't double as charming decor pieces.  But I digress . . .

In January and February, fueled a paralyzing pre-and-post-inauguration anxiety, I purchased a bunch of books-- like a sheeeat ton-- to make myself feel better.  To my credit, these purchases all work towards my 2017 reading goals and, in many cases, support the work of persons of color.  Y'know, if you are going to spend a chunk of your paycheck on something you should make your purchases meaningful ones, right?    Right.


The One That Will Consume My Summer.  A few months ago, my mother picked up two hardback first edition volumes of  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago at a library book sale . . . volumes I and III. I recently was able to find a volume II of the same set good condition on Amazon.  I plan to tuck into the series during the summer months.  Nothing screams summer quite like a detailed history history of the gulag system.



The Public Intellectual We Need Right Now.  In January, as part of my David Bowie project, I read The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, a slim nonfiction volume from the famed writer and public intellectual.  The following month, I went to see Raoul Peck's stirring Oscar-nominated Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro.  Both experiences spurred me into buying copies of Baldwin's debut novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, the famed essay collection Notes of a Native Son, and picked up the companion nonfiction collection-by-way-of-pastiche to I Am Not Your Negro-- I'll have a post about both the film and the collection up later this month.

When You Want to Contextualize Your Activism. I've already been involved in a few non-violent protests since the election, so I feel like I am starting to "get the hang of it."  That being said, and me being nerdy, I felt like I needed to explore protest movements from the past to better understand my own activism, especially since we seem to be fighting the same socio-cultural battles that activists were trying to address forty years ago.  The first avenue I wanted to explore was the work (for better or worse) of The Weather Underground.  I had seen the 2002 documentary about the group years ago and had read some of the scholarship of one of their members, Bill Ayers (he's an educational theorist), when I was in grad school.  Bargain maven that I am, I purchased two used copies of Ayer's activist memoirs-- Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an American Dissident and Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident-- for a song on Amazon.  And now the Feds are probably watching . . .

Where to Start When You Want to Develop a Nuanced Understanding. Much as been made of the violent crime rate in America's cities by politicians and the press.  Before taking a deep dive into the literature on the intersection of race, violence, and law enforcement I wanted to get a general overview of the nuanced topic.  In came Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy.  The book follows the predominantly white homicide detectives who are tasked with closing cases in predominately African-American South Central Los Angeles.  From what I have been able to gather the book takes a nuanced look at the institutionalized racism that has engendered distrust between the police and community they have been sworn to protect while also highlights the dedication of detectives who want to close cases but are often stymied by a lack of resources and a lack of community cooperation.

Contemporary Own-Voices Literary Classics: In my last Amazon order, I picked up copies of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao for my Bowie  project and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah because I am the last person in the world who hasn't read it.  Both works are contemporary classics and are own-voices narratives . . .  which ticks almost all of my boxes!

The Month I Went "Overboard" with Book of the Month Club. In January, I skipped a month from BMC because none of the selections spoke to me.  In February, on the other hand, I not only picked up Min Jin Lee's Pachinko, a novel about Koreans living in Japan, I also added Zadie Smith's Swing Time and Kathleen Collins's short story collection Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? to my box.  I may have also gone cray this month, too.

So, my bedside table is now a mountain range of books, but . . .


1 comment:

Bobby said...

Hi. I wish I still read books. I'm addicted to reading the internet now though.