Book Review: Black Klansman

Book Review: Black KlansmanBlack Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime
by Ron Stallworth
on June 5, 2018
Pages: 208
Published by Flatiron Books
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Goodreads

In 1978 the community of Colorado Springs, Colorado experienced a growth of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) membership. One man dared to challenge their effort and thwart attempts to take over the city, Police Detective Ron Stallworth. He launched an undercover investigation into the Klan, gained membership into the organization, briefly served as Duke's bodyguard, and was eventually asked to be the leader of the Colorado Springs chapter. The irony of this investigation was that Stallworth is… A Black man. In the process he battled internal departmental politics to successfully pull off this "sting." Black Klansman explains how he overcame these obstacles and accomplished this almost unbelievable unique achievement.

My Takeaway Although I appreciated the overall story Ron Stallworth contributed, I did not necessarily love the writing style and flow of Black Klansman. I felt the memoir could have been shorter and less repetitive (perhaps a more beneficial book for younger readers). Regardless, Stallworth’s infiltration into the…

Book Review: Hunger

Book Review: HungerHunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
by Roxane Gay
on July 6, 2017
Pages: 280
Published by Corsair
Genres: Diverse Spines, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Goodreads

From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself

I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

My Takeaway “This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not.” Roxane Gay…

Book Review: The Sun Does Shine

Book Review: The Sun Does ShineThe Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row
by Anthony Ray Hinton, Bryan Stevenson, Lara Love Hardin
on March 27, 2018
Pages: 272
Published by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Non-Fiction
Goodreads

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB SUMMER 2018 SELECTION

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence—full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.

My Takeaway “I was born with the same gift from God we are all born with – the impulse to reach out and lessen the suffering of another human being. It was a gift, and we each had a choice whether to use this gift or not.” Anthony Ray Hinton, The…

Book Review: The Origin of Others

Book Review: The Origin of OthersThe Origin of Others
by Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates
on September 18, 2017
Pages: 131
Published by Harvard University Press
Genres: Non-Fiction
Goodreads

America's foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid?

Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison's fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books--Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy.

If we learn racism by example, then literature plays an important part in the history of race in America, both negatively and positively. Morrison writes about nineteenth-century literary efforts to romance slavery, contrasting them with the scientific racism of Samuel Cartwright and the banal diaries of the plantation overseer and slaveholder Thomas Thistlewood. She looks at configurations of blackness, notions of racial purity, and the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative. Expanding the scope of her concern, she also addresses globalization and the mass movement of peoples in this century. National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates provides a foreword to Morrison's most personal work of nonfiction to date.

My Takeaway “How does one become a racist, a sexist? Since no one is born a racist and there is no fetal predisposition to sexism, one learns Othering not by lecture or instruction but by example.” Toni Morrison, The Origin of Others What is race and why does it matter…

Book Review: Notes from a Public Typewriter

Book Review: Notes from a Public TypewriterNotes from a Public Typewriter
by Michael Gustafson, Oliver Uberti
on March 27, 2018
Pages: 160
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Genres: Non-Fiction
Goodreads

When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page? Yes, no, and did they ever.

Every day, people of all ages sit down at the public typewriter. Children perch atop grandparents' knees, both sets of hands hovering above the metal keys: I LOVE YOU. Others walk in alone on Friday nights and confess their hopes: I will find someone someday. And some leave funny asides for the next person who sits down: I dislike people, misanthropes, irony, and ellipses ... and lists too.

In NOTES FROM A PUBLIC TYPEWRITER Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire.

My Takeaway “Life, like this typewriter, has no backspace. Type strongly and don’t look back.” Notes from a Public Typewriter Occasionally, a book comes along you simply fall in love with and folks, we have a winner here! I learned about Notes from a Public Typewriter…