“Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities.” —Ben Okri
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More books worth your time
- SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE
- Written by Ijeoma Oluo and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- Seal Press
- ISBN: 978-1580056779
Are you a racist? Are you sure? It’s a tough subject, and while almost no one wants to be a racist, most white people have some racist habits they don’t even know about. In So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo confronts behaviors and encourages readers to check their defensiveness and learn to listen. She makes the point that you never really know a person until you walk around in their shoes, which has been a universal truth since Atticus Finch said it in To Kill a Mockingbird.
We are products of our society and the way we were brought up.
Assimilation does not take diversity into account.
No one can take away your right to be angry.
Everyone deserves a voice and fair treatment.
One culture is not better than another.
Your truth may not be someone elses.
Oluo shares her world, her point of view, and her observations of the world. Depending on who you are and what you have experiences, her assertions could make you shudder or nod in agreement. Her words may make you angry, defensive, or grateful for the recognition.
So You Want To Talk About Race is written by a black author who wants to wake white readers up. Right now many of us are ready to wake up and support other people and other cultures. This accessible guide to awareness challenges us to discuss our truths, face them, and take action.
- WHEN I WAS YOU
- Written by Minka Kent and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #: 978-1542005555
- Thomas and Mercer Publishers
What is wrong with Kate and Naill? Are they roommates? Husband and wife? Or something else? And what happens when someone steals your identity and manipulates your mind? There’s so much to discover in Minka Kent’s When I Was You.
A brutal attack, followed by severe headaches and excessive confusion, make Brienne Dougray afraid to leave her house. She realizes someone is masquerading as her. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. Same name. What she can’t understand is why. Her new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin watches out for her, and (bonus points) he’s attractive. But when she wants to confront the other Brienne, he shares a startling truth that brings her both hope and confusion.
As author Minka Kent explores alternating point of view, readers discover what can happen when a woman becomes convinced that she can’t remember her own reality. Scary stuff! It’s fiction with the possibility of becoming reality. The plot twists and turns and though all the character’s motivations may not thrill readers, they’re valid and sometimes horrifying. The alternating points of view revealed more than readers might have imagined, and the tone has a strong impact on readers.
What is the truth, and what will it take for Brienne to discover it? There are elements of suspense and misunderstanding that shift like sand as they keep readers ripping through pages to figure out what is really going on.
- EVERYTHING IS A BIG DEAL—UNTIL IT’S NOT
- Written by Laurie Condon and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- Print ISBN: 978-1-68433-376-9
- Published by Black Rose Writing
In Your Head
Laurie Condon’s short, wise, funny and honest collection of personal essays might just knock your socks off. Assuming you wear socks.
At the ripe old age of 50, Condon reflects on who she is, where she’s come from, and where she’s going in Everything Is a Big Deal, Until It’s Not. I loved her name for her husband, Superman, as much as I love her bold-faced honesty as she confronts her fears and behaviors openly and honestly. Whether she’s talking about menopause, alcohol, aging, her early boyfriends, Assman, and Dickhead, her writing is a blend of stand-up comedy and the Sun Magazine’s personal essays.
She realizes that “much of a relationship takes place in your own head” and “There are certain people who come into your life for a specific purpose, others for a certain time frame like high school or college, and then there are the lifers.” Pepper that with quips like ““Superman suggested I just make a bunch of new heavy friends and wear leggings,” and you have a sampling of her wisdom and spirit.
Whether you’ve reached 50, want to approach it wisely, or are looking back, this book will give you perspective on the author’s life and help you find some of your own. Who couldn’t use a laugh right now? Highly recommended.
- Written by Chelsea Bieker and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN: 978-1948226486
- Catapult (March 31, 2020)
Finding Her Way Out
Sometimes it’s hard to see a trap when you are stuck in the middle of it. Humans need approval and attention, and most of them prefer to do what’s right. Sometimes, though, if a young woman is surrounded by a manipulator or two, she can lose track of what right and wrong really are. Chelsea Bieker’s Godshot gives new meaning to the experiences of loving an alcoholic mother, being trapped by false promises, and becoming a free woman with an independent mind.
When 14-year-old Lacey May “gets her blood” Pastor Vern promises her and every other girl in the church a “special assignment” that will help the fictitious town of Peaches, California get passed the drought destroying their crops. He promises things will be normal or better, if people accept his guidance. But what’s normal for Lacey May is an alcoholic mother who abandons her, a grandmother who neglects her, and values she picks out of the romance novels her mother left behind. Lacey May has a mind of her own and the friendship of some women in town who help her use it. If water is a source of life then drought is a source of pain and death. Readers will applaud that Lacey May is smart enough to find her way out.
Bieker’s novel is about desperation, girls becoming women, false promises, poverty, resilience, empowerment, curiosity, need, hope and so much more. It’s a non-linear, poetic exploration of right, wrong, and self-preservation. Bieker is a first-class writer and this award-winning debut novel drew me in and made me want to hang on for the roller-coaster ride as Lacey May starts down the road to a life of her own.
- DAWSON’S FALL
- Written by Roxana Robinson and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- Publisher: Picador (August 2020)
- ISBN-13: 978-1250619662
Conscience: A Reason to Act
At the risk of starting with a cliché, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Such is the case in Roxana Robinson’s Reconstruction era drama, Dawson’s Fall. Based on the journals and stories of her ancestors, Robinson weaves a tale of her journalist great grandfather, who came to this country to fight for the confederacy and the Southern woman he married.
In the prelude, Robinson says, “We were taught that principle was more important than money or comfort or peer pressure; that conscience was a reason to act.” Her story of the Dawsons, their family, their governess, the nextdoor neighbor, lust, the newspaper, and the culture of the South during reconstruction all play roles in the unexpected outcome, which I refuse to give away.
This is a true story that includes excerpts from Sarah Morgan Dawson’s journal. In addition to being informative and enlightening, her journal entries show us that language changes. For a contemporary audience, Robinson’s writing is more accessible. Though the first half of the book is a little slow in places, I am so glad I stuck around for the second half. The action flies there complicating issues and lives.
If you like either historical fiction or biography, you’ll enjoy Robinson’s extremely well written story.