Last year I participated in a year long challenge to read more diversely. Specifically to read books from women of color. Check out the original challenge in Daily Kos here. There were plenty of awesome titles highlighted by Barbee that I think you will love.
At first I was not sure how I was going to put this challenge into practice. Did I have to always have a book by a woman of color in my hands? For 365 days of the year? Did I have to finish one title each week? Or was it enough to just complete 52 books by the end of the year? In the end I decided that each week I would complete a book by a woman of color.
So how did I do?
68 “New to Me” Authors
Even though there were 3 weeks that I did not finish a title, I would say that overall it was a success. By the time that I started blogging about my challenge I just had too many titles to cover in the last weeks of the year and was overwhelmed at the prospect of doing so during finals. Here it is a fresh start, a new year, my favorite challenge.
My Goals For 2021
Complete Margaret Busby’s Daughters of Africa Volumes 1 and 2.
Read books from women of color across all 7 continents. (For Antarctica use Decolonized map that indicates closest indigenous populations.)
Read more books in translation.
Read more books from small presses.
Daughters of Africa
This is an anthology that not only includes excerpts of writing, but also gives historical background on each author. In part I will be using these volumes to discover more incredible authors of color and read more books from the classic Afro/Caribbean/American canon.
Read 93 out of 1089 pages
I am definitely learning a lot from this book. There were some familiar names but many fascinating women that I had never heard of. Here is a partial list of the biographies and extracts that I have read so far.
Makeda, Queen of Sheba
Harriet Adams Wilson
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Week One (1/2)
Week Two (1/9)
Week Three (1/16)
So far I am on target to complete Daughters of Africa by year’s end. I have read 3 new authors: Ruhi Choudhary, Glynis Guevara and Danielle Geller. Of the 9 authors, four are African-American, one is Indigenous United States, two live in Canada and three hail from the Caribbean (The Moulite family is from Haiti and Glynis Guevarra is from Trinidad & Tobago)
Meet the Queens that Have Brought All of this Awesomeness
Hey Everyone! Hope you had a wonderful week of reading! Personally, I got side-tracked by my allergies. But I am trying to get back on track. I am hoping that with the children returning back to school this week that I will be able to steal more time to read.
For those of you new to WWW Wednesdays: This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!
This year I have committed myself to reading the works of three authors: James Baldwin, Bernardine Evaristo and Bernice L. McFadden. Loving Donovan is the first novel that I have read for this challenge this year. It is the third book that I have read from Ms. McFadden and one commonality that I have found in her books is that they get to the heart of human emotion. Her characters and their backstories have so much depth and are complex. You can’t help but identify with their pain and their joy. Even if you don’t see yourself in her pages you feel as if you know someone just like that. Her writing is just brilliant.
This anthology includes biographies and writings from women all across the African diaspora. It is arranged chronologically starting with Traditional African poems. This is part of a yearlong project for me. So far I have 1500 BC – 1820’s. (So about 90 pages. Ha! Ha!) I enjoy learning about these incredible women in history. Oftentimes I find myself stepping away from the book to research them further.
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez
This is a short story collection by Argentine author Mariana Enriquez. All of these stories have a bit of the macabre. I am not sure whether I would classify them as magical realism or horror. But will say is that I have been absolutely captivated by this collection. Each story touches upon some human element that is typically ignored. Her writing is utterly original and I find that I cannot help myself but to read the stories over back-to- back so that I can glean more from them. I actually started journaling about each story. Who knows by the time I finish my notes may be longer than the book. LOL
The Woman Inside by Anna-Lou Weatherley
The Woman Inside is an intense emotional thriller about a woman left for dead. When questioned she cannot remember anything from the day of the attack. DI Dan Riley needs her to gain her memory back in order to catch the serial killer. I’m super excited to read this one. My Blog Tour review will be live tomorrow morning. So check back here for all the juicy details!
Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall
Contemporary/ Young Adult
Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 19th 2021 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by West Virginia University Press
5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Death. El Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the souls of loved ones departed. It follows the Aztec tradition of honoring the dead by setting up family altars, enjoying your loved one’s favorite foods and visiting their graves with marigolds and gifts. The Day of the Dead is held November 1st and 2nd this year. If you are interested in participating you can find additional info and future prompts here.
#1 – Men We Reaped
From Goodreads: In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.
Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue high education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity.
#2 – Death in Her Hands
A novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds a cryptic note on a walk in the woods that ultimately makes her question everything about her new home.
While on her normal daily walk with her dog in the forest woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with a frame of stones. “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body”. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to area, having moved her from her longtime home after the death of her husband, and she knows very few people. And she’s a little shaky even on best days. Her brooding about this note quickly grows into a full-blown obsession, and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of her conjectures about who this woman was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But as we follow her in her investigation, strange dissonances start to accrue, and our faith in her grip on reality weakens, until finally, just as she seems be facing some of the darkness in her own past with her late husband, we are forced to face the prospect that there is either a more innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home.
A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, ‘Death in Her Hands’ asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both guide us closer to the truth and keep us at bay from it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, only this time the stakes have never been higher.
#3 – Dog Flowers
A daughter returns home to the Navajo reservation to confront her family’s troubled history and retrace her mother’s life—using both narrative and archive in this unforgettable and heart-wrenching memoir.
After Danielle Geller’s mother dies of a withdrawal from alcohol during a period of homelessness, she is forced to return to Florida. Using her training as a librarian and archivist, Geller collects her mother’s documents, diaries, and photographs into a single suitcase and begins on a journey of confronting her family’s history and the decisions she’s been forced to make, a journey that will end at her mother’s home: the Navajo reservation.
Geller masterfully intertwines wrenching prose with archival documents to create a deeply moving narrative of loss and inheritance that pays homage to our pasts, traditions, heritage, the family we are given, and the family we choose.
#4 – Monkey Beach
Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haisla people. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different.
Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can’t escape the sense that something terrible is waiting for her. She recounts her enchanted yet scarred life as she journeys in her speedboat up the frigid waters of the Douglas Channel. She is searching for her brother, dead by drowning, and in her own way running as fast as she can toward danger. Circling her brother’s tragic death are the remarkable characters that make up her family: Lisamarie’s parents, struggling to join their Haisla heritage with Western ways; Uncle Mick, a Native rights activist and devoted Elvis fan; and the headstrong Ma-ma-oo (Haisla for “grandmother”), a guardian of tradition.
Haunting, funny, and vividly poignant, Monkey Beach gives full scope to Robinson’s startling ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush living wilderness as by the humanity of its colorful characters, Monkey Beach is a profoundly moving story about childhood and the pain of growing older–a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.
#5 – In Cold Blood
From Goodreads: Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time.
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
Five years, four months and twenty-nine days later, on April 14, 1965, Richard Eugene Hickock, aged thirty-three, and Perry Edward Smith, aged thirty-six, were hanged for the crime on a gallows in a warehouse at the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas.
In Cold Blood is the story of the lives and deaths of these six people. It has already been hailed as a masterpiece.