Popular Reading: Pop Open a Book!

Posted: August 18, 2020 9:00:00 AM CDT

Hey, y’all! Punk a** book jockey here, writing today to talk to you about our Popular Reading Collection!

Back at the end of 2017, a friend of mine and I decided that we would challenge ourselves in 2018 by reading books mostly by women, specifically women of color. We did not originate this idea. I cannot remember where we found this idea, and now, there are various of blogs and lists of books supporting this idea.

One reason to read books by people who don’t look like me, people who have had experiences different from mine, is to try to understand their experience. Various studies suggest that reading fiction makes you more empathetic because you can explore experiences beyond your own, putting yourself in another’s shoes, so to speak. I’ve personally found more variety in the fiction I’ve read, when I make an effort to read books by folks of various identities, authors from around the world, of various religions, gender identity, economic background, etc. So, here are some of my favorite authors from our Popular Reading Collection that have offered variety for my reading experience:

Acevedo, Elizabeth. With the Fire on High

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions: doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free. – Provided by publisher.

Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone

Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy. – Provided by publisher.

Gay, Roxane. Difficult Women

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Roxane Gay. I’ve also cried reading most of her works. This collection of short stories was amazing.

Gyasi, Yaa. Homegoing

Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation. – Provided by publisher.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Barracoon: the story of the last "Black Cargo"

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation's history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo's firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. Based on interviews, featuring Cudjo's unique vernacular, and written from Hurston's perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture. – From Goodreads

Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned -- from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren -- an enigmatic artist and single mother -- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town -- and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. – Provided by Publisher.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time

Two brown girls dream of being dancers--but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live. But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey--the same twists, the same shakes--and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time. – Provided by publisher.

Ward, Jesmyn. Sing, Unburied, Sing

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie's children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. – Provided by publisher.

 
Photo attribution: Photo by Nitin Arya from Pexels

 

 

By: Alexa Hight, Punk A** Book Jockey

Category: Today’s Special, Books & More