March's Bookshelf

March proved to be another excellent month of reading books that were utter delights to read and learn from.  I managed to finish off 4 physical books so that's a win and have plenty of books to talk about this month.  I would have more but some great ones are under review embargo, alas.  Besides enjoying these books, be sure to check out my ongoing series, Books for White Folks, here are its' current entries:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  


Book covers of the books I read this month.


Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge


For many white folks, the title might fool them into thinking this book embodies the worst conjured stereotype of people of color activists who demand equity, equality, and fairness after centuries in which democratically republics have often failed to uphold these.  But, they might be surprised that Eddo-Lodge's writing is welcoming, enlightening, and filled with history and deconstructions of racism in modern society that many white folks aren't familiar with.  The title comes from a blog title she posted several years ago and what follows is a clear and explicit exploration of racism and how whites, particularly, are woefully unaware (by structural racism) of the ways in which culture has privileged them time and again to the detriment of people of color.  By far, this is not my first book on the subject of racism, white privilege, and the impact of historically legalized inequality, but Eddo-Lodge explores these elements in the context of the UK, providing a strikingly similar but still unique exploration of how structural racism.  In particular, she covers how it became prevalent and the ways in which it secures inequality through laws, customs, inequitable distribution of goods and protections, and intentionally forgets its egregious disregard of people of color. It's clear with this level of knowledge why Eddo-Lodge may no longer talk to white people about race, but she has channeled that frustration into a book which can explain and illustrate what it is that white people need to know to understand why. 


The End We Start From by Megan Hunter


This is a fun and short novel about a woman dealing with an apocalyptic while also dealing with a growing infant, but, of course, it's about so much more.  The novels' style is minimalistic, broken into small sections that can be one sentence to about a full page's worth.  Hunter manages to provide the fullest of stories in the smallest of words and using a good amount of synecdoche, giving the readers glimpses of her bigger whole experience.  Hunters desire to straddle this line between detail and reduction of words, that all the characters are merely denoted by a single letter, rather than a full name. It makes the reading experience move quickly and evokes the realization of how names themselves, though necessary, are far more complex than needed for a good story.  The story starts with the birth of the protagonist's baby and the husband working to get them moving as a disaster is approaching (a flood by the sound of it).  As the woman moves along, we get glimpses and hints about her past and how she has moved through the world around her.  More interestingly, Hunter shows us that apocalyptic conditions are challenging and chaotic but that life still goes on and we get a bird's eye view of the woman's daily thoughts and struggles with her growing baby in the backdrop of a natural disaster.  There is, of course, a very British element to this tale in that the woman's stiff-upper-lip and the way in which there appears way more order and mutual support than is often depicted in such tales.  


The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2) by N.K. Jemisin


Jemisin's second book in The Broken Earth trilogy is just as fascinating as her first and pulls readers deeper into the mystery of a future and unrecognizable Earth where life has inevitably altered and the world of today appears only in the refraction of technologies and cultural artifacts long abandoned or lost.  Essun, the protagonist of the first follow, has landed in a com, Castrima, which has been attracting orogenes like herself and who live in an underground construct build with technologies of previous civilizations.  There, she continues to learn from Alabaster, her former lover and mentor while also coming to understand the place of orogenes in the past and the future.  Meanwhile, her daughter, Nassun has been brought by her father to a place that he believes will rid her of her orogene powers.  Instead, a Guardian takes a keen interest in developing her powers in new ways.  The story moves seamlessly back and forth between mother and daughter, which each's experience informing the reader of the bigger picture, very similar to the first volume.  Jemisin's crafting of characters with their foibles and growth is quite spectacular to watch play out throughout this novel and the previous one.  Added to this, Jemisin's future Earth is filled with curiosities that she hints at and keep the reader wondering.  Woven into the story is a discussion about human and who gets to be named human and for what reasons that has so much resonance to today and human history, that it raises the bare on meaningful and thoughtful science-fiction.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

I was a big fan of Pinker's previous book, The Better Nature of Our Angels that he wrote several years ago.  I found it to be a relieving exploration into the world today and better understanding the myth of violence that is ever-present in news and political rhetoric about the world today. Thus, his follow up where he continues to make that argument by connecting it to the present-day issues and concerns that dominate discussions across many different places is appreciated and useful in gaining perspective.  He moves through dozens of chapters taken on different issues and leveling the known research available while connecting the issues with the larger picture or with other concepts and research that can prove...well..enlightening.  At the core of his argument is one that is similar to Kurt Anderson's in Fantasyland, that through the lens and application of evidence-based research that there has been great progress, but that doesn't mean there isn't setbacks or that because there has been progress that there will continue to be progress.  Pinker makes clear that the progress that has been made can only continue to be made if we push to make the world better rather than offering up apocalyptic news headlines and pundits that it's all going wrong.  It's definitely worth the read if you want to get a bigger worldview and understanding of the ways in which your own assumptions about progress can be challenged.

So here is the full listing of reads for February:


Books

  • Sisters by Lily Tuck
  • The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2) by N.K. Jemisin
  • Writers Book of Matches: 1,001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction by Fresh Boiled Peanuts

Audiobooks

  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge 
  • Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations by Amy Chua
  • Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride
  • In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu
  • Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era by Jorge Ramos
  • White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill
  • The Acolyte by Nick Cutter
  • Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

Graphic Novels

  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 29: Lines We Cross by Robert Kirkman 

Wanna catch up on my latest blog posts about books?

Check out some of my 2018's books:


Curious about what I've read?  Check out annual good reads list:

I also have more specialized lists such as ones on

What have been some of your most recent reads of late?  What book do you find yourself recommending to everyone?  What author(s) can't you get enough of?




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