I continue to be coming around to my new reading life which is, as this moment, out of sync with how I used to read. I have leaned hard into books that I want to read, not should or need to read, but ones that I want to read. That got me into a groove last year and I hope it will anchor me through 2022, also.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
I couldn’t stop reading this one once I began. A few years ago, I remember reading Pachinko as voraciously. Like, unable to do anything except perform basic functions because I was absolutely consumed by this intergenerational, historical, contemporary, beautiful novel about Black women and mothering and legacy, and race and…it’s incredible. I’d definitely have it in classrooms and I’d also consider putting it into conversation with The Known World by Edward P. Jones. Jeffers’ characters stay with you. I haven’t stopped thinking about them since I finished the book. A fantastic way to start a new year. Anchored in Black women.
This Close to Okay, Leesa Cross-Smith
I have a soft spot for Leesa Cross-Smith after loving her So We Can Glow, a collection of excellent short/flash stories. This novel is about two people who find each other at moments when they are both fragile (CW: suicide, just know that). Then, they put each other back together-ish, in ways that are humane and realistic and that make you really grateful for folks who take the time to check in on us. Leesa C-S writes a beautiful sentence; she’s the type of writer who actually uses interesting words throughout, and those words are delightful and surprising, and memorable. Truly enjoyed this book, suspended all doubt while reading it, and was glad I did because the novel was quite satisfying.
The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You, Maurice Carlos Ruffin
I was preparing for a trip to New Orleans and wanted a book to help me ease back into that vibe. Ruffin’s collection of short stories was unexpected, heartbreaking, and fabulous, all at the same time. He writes well, encouraging you to take a second, third, and even fourth look at sentences and the people and places within them. They are important glimpses of the people whom, as a tourist, one might overlook or not pay attention to, or even think they’ve come to New Orleans to forget. However, Ruffin insists we pay attention, hear the stories, consider who we don’t see, or choose not to see, when we visit these places.
While We Were Dating, Jasmine Guillory
A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home, Edited by Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary
Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir, Ashley Ford
Fiona and Jane, Joan Chen Ho
Brown Girls, Daphne Palasi Andreades
Lakewood, Megan Giddings
Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir, Brian Broome
Cafe Con Lychee, Emery Lee
Take My Hand, Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Memphis, Tara M. Stringfellow
Instructions for Dancing, Nicola Yoon
You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame, Resilience, and the Black Experience, Brene Brown and Tarana Burke
By the Book, Jasmine Guillory
Set Boundaries, Find Peace, Nedra Tawwab
Olga Dies Dreaming, Xochitl Gonzalez