Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hey, here's something not sad....

Summer is the only time I get to decide what I read, so all during the school year I gather books to squeeze in over the break. By the time school is out my stack is usually pretty tall. I feel a little braggy proud about the amount of reading I was able to get through in 3 short months. (Although, full disclosure, I started the first 2 on this list during winter break, so I did have a little head start.)

Here are the book reports~

I really loved this book. It is meant to be a letter to the author’s son on the meaning and navigation of being a black man in America. I think we might all be better off, if, no matter what our race and gender, we read this book with an open mind and heart.

What can I say about this? I love history and Hamilton. This comprehensive biography really gives so much insight into the amazing (and stubborn) man that Alexander Hamilton was. He was brilliant and his own worst enemy at the same time. As much as I wanted to finish so I could move on to the next book, I was sad when the end came.

Gah! The crying. I have not loved a book this much in a really long time. You guys HAVE to read this book. In several places literally wept. This is the extremely moving story of a teenage girl who has lost her favorite uncle to Aids and ends up forming a secret relationship with his surviving partner. But it’s really SO SO much more than that. It’s about all relationships and the suckiness of transitioning from protected child to protecting adult. The relationships were so personal and complex; I can’t say enough good things about this book.

Alright, so, I saw this recommended a couple of places, I think first on Design Mom, and thought it might be a good way to make sure my teenagers and I were continuing to have an open dialog about sex. My intent was to do what she had done and not only read it myself, but also to encourage my kids to read it. Wellllll, about 2 chapters in I changed my plan after coming across references to acts I had never heard of. (I don’t know how to say this without seeming one thing or another, but I don’t think I’ve spent my life in a dark and na├»ve place, I’ve been around, but not AROUND, you know?) Anyway…the more I read the more I agreed that these were important topics, but I wasn’t sure I wanted my daughter reading about them. But, then I got to the chapters on rape, As I read the stories of the girls interviewed for this book I found that I was reading my own stories and memories of boys bringing bottles of wine to dates, so I could “relax”, and feeling like the success of the evening depended on how far I was willing to go, came rushing back to me and I knew that I did want my daughter…and my sons, to read this book. In the end I decided that it’s possible, likely even, that my kids are not going to read this and come to me and say, “hey, can we talk about oral sex?”, but I don’t care.

Set in Nigeria, this is the story of Okonkwa, a man trying, like most of us, not be his father. He has a plan, to be strong and successful in ways his father never was, but life never works out the way we plan. Some times the more we fight something, the more likely we are to become it. As the outside world begins to creep into his previously isolated tribal life, Okonkwa finds himself unable to adapt, so instead he fights all of the changes in his world. In the end though, as we all know, change comes whether we like it or not. It's hard to know if he is brave or foolish. Maybe, like all of us, it's a little of both. This book reminded me in many ways of The Good Earth where a man tries so hard to defy his past that he loses not only the present, but the future as well.

This memoir alternates between the memories of McBride and his mother, a Jewish white woman who twice married black men and not only raised 12 children largely on her own, but worked hard to ensure that all twelve graduated college. This was a quick read and a great example of the influence of a strong mother and the power of expectations.

I know. Funnest title ever, right? This is actually very interesting, especially if you don't know much about the way our state was formed and how our constitution works. I recommend getting something like this, no matter where you live. It's much easier to understand, and work toward supporting or changing the law, when you see how the sausage is made. 

I just realized that the photo at the time includes the Bill Bryson book. I have not finished that one. It's a collection of essays that are charming and funny, and I pick it up and read a couple now and then when I have time. I'm a huge fan of these types of books (David Sedaris is probably my favorite), because there's not a time commitment, you can read a few pages, put it down, and come back anytime you want. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Woe and gloom and clowns and pokemon...

It's rough at there right now, eh? I don't know about you, but I am so worn out from election talk that I can hardly think about it anymore. Or at least I wish I could not think about it anymore. Sadly it is EVERYWHERE. The worst part is not our candidates (although, I think we can agree they are not the greatest), the worst part is how we are speaking to each other and behaving online...and lots of times, in person. Guys! Cut it out!!! Let's focus on real problems.

Like scary clowns.

I'm sorry. I can't even take them seriously. If a clown tried to rob me I would be laughing too hard, I would offer them my therapist phone number, because honestly, if that's the best you can do as a criminal...

Anyhow...I don't know why, but this made me laugh.

Let's all try to cheer up, K?