Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Quick Read! · Race · Women

Another Brooklyn | by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
(Amistad, 2016, 175 pages)

Woodson is a poet and that comes across in this book. Her way with language is amazing. This is a slim book and Woodson has a way of conveying so much so concisely that you just sit back and appreciate her way with words. This book transports you to Brooklyn in the 70s. We’re introduced to a friendship made up of four girls: August, Gigi, Sylvia, and Angela. We see the power of friendship but we also see that childhood is fleeting and the real world has a way of coming in and changing your life whether you’re ready for it or not.

This is a poignant and powerful novel.

4/5 stars

Advertisements
Books · Julia P · Non-Fiction

Wild Things | by Bruce Handy

Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult

Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult
by Bruce Handy
(Simon & Schuster, 2017, 307 pages)

Wild Things is a book that’s right up my alley. You want to talk about children’s literature I’m all ears! Handy looks back at some classic children’s books and puts them in context. The breadth of children’s literature makes it impossible for Handy to touch on everything and he acknowledges that early on but he highlights the classics that will hit home for most people.

In addition to deconstructing each story Handy also offers up biographical information about the authors. You come away not only wanting to revisit classics and explore more children’s books, but also wanting to learn more about these authors who have had such an impact on our lives and the lives of our children. I’ve been looking forward to reading some of my favorites out loud to my daughter when she gets a little older but this book only got me more excited.

Wild Things encourages you to appreciate and really explore the children’s books that are in our lives. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.

4/5 stars

Classic · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Name in Title · Quick Read! · Re-Read! · Science Fiction

Flowers for Algernon | by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
(Harcourt, 1994, 311 pages)

This classic text stands up each time I read it and I feel like I get something new out of it every time. I had to re-read Flowers for Algernon for a class that is discussing the text and while I wasn’t necessarily eager to read it again I quickly found myself sucked back in to the story.

Originally published as a short story this book follows Charlie, a man in his early 30s who is mentally disabled. He has always been motivated to try and learn so he can “be like other people” and it was because of this motivation that his teacher suggested him as a good candidate for an experiment at a local college aimed at increasing intelligence. After the surgery we see the changes in Charlie through the text of progress reports he submits to the professors in charge of the experiment.

There are more changes in Charlie than just what we see on the intellectual front. He is also tapping into his past and how his family affected him and led him to where he came to be in the present day. The book tackles a lot issues with an emphasis on humanity and respect. It’s a heart-breaking book and while there are dated aspects to it (and a few things that led me to raise my eyebrows) I think it’s a valuable text that prompts good reflection and discussion.

4/5 stars

Award Winner · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Quick Read! · Race · SCC Book Club · Young Adult

The Hate U Give | by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
(Balzer + Bray, 2017, 444 pages)

The Hate U Give was this semester’s first selection for our Between the Covers Book Club and the timing of it was… well, we’ll just say that it was a timely read. You might be familiar with the title because it has gotten a lot of praise and publicity. It’s a young adult novel that follows a young woman named Starr whose best friend was the victim of a police shooting. And she was the only witness.

The reader experiences what Starr is going through as she copes with the loss of her friend and tries to deal with the fact that it’s her word against forces so much larger than herself: the officer involved and the media seeking to spin the narrative. This was a book that forces you to reflect back on the many police shootings we’ve seen covered over the years. I found myself writing in the margins when a detail reminded me of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown… it was unsettling but powerful.

This book lends itself to good discussions about hard topics a lot of people tend to shy away from. I’m still reflecting on the book and what an amazing job Thomas did with it. A great read, and don’t let the YA label keep you from picking it up.

4/5 stars

Julia P · Non-Fiction · Politics · Women

Big Girls Don’t Cry | by Rebecca Traister

Image result

Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women
by Rebecca Traister
(Free Press, 2010, 352 pages)

Big Girls Don’t Cry takes a look at the 2008 election and what it meant for women in America. A short blurb from the Goodreads summary gives you a feel for what’s covered:

In an utterly engaging, razor-sharp narrative interlaced with her first-person account of being a young woman navigating this turbulent and exciting time, Traister explores how—thanks to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, and the history-making work and visibility of Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric, and others—women began to emerge stronger than ever on the national stage.

This was an engaging (though at times depressing) read. The book lent itself to a lot of reflection on my part. I definitely recommend the book – and the bibliography will lead you to a lot more quality reading. But I think before I look into those I’ll be reading Hillary Clinton’s What Happened 😉

4/5 stars

Fiction · Julia P · Name in Title · Race

Ruby | by Cynthia Bond

Ruby

Ruby by Cynthia Bond
(Hogarth, 2015, 368 pages)

I read Ruby for a book club that I’m in and I was glad this title was chosen because it had been on my TBR list for a while. It was incredibly well-written, but man, the content was heavy. The fact that this title was a selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 should clue you in to some of the subject matter. When I think of “Oprah picks” there are themes that tend to come up pretty regularly: issues of race, close female friendships, sexual assault/abuse, redemption (in some form). Ruby hits all those points (and yes, I know Oprah’s book club selections vary in content, but if you think about Oprah and what she consistently praises/highlights in literature, this hits the sweet spot).

In the interest of getting this posted I’m going to give you the Goodreads synopsis:

The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

This is a book that will simultaneously keep you reading and wanting to put the book down and step away for a moment. A well-written and powerful book.

4/5 stars

Art · Humor · Julia P · Non-Fiction · Quick Read!

Sunday Sketching | by Christoph Niemann

Sunday Sketching

Sunday Sketching by Christoph Niemann
(Harry N. Abrams, 2016, 272 pages)

I follow Niemann on Instagram and didn’t realize how familiar I was with his work until I noticed how frequently his art appears on the cover of The New Yorker. There’s a lot of humor in his work and it makes me happy. In addition to being a collection of some of his pieces, Sunday Sketching also talks about how Niemann tackles the creative process. It was an interesting and quick read that only left me wanting to actually purchase the book for my collection and acquire his art for my walls.

This is a fun read for people who appreciate art/illustration and want insight into how this particular artist approaches life as a creative.

And for fun, here’s a taste of his Niemann’s artwork (all pulled from his website: http://www.christophniemann.com). You should also check out “The Gummi Bear Chronicles” on the New York Times’s Abstract Sunday blog – just because I like it ;).

5/5 stars