There were so many people who demanded to know the place of your beginnings, the place where you stored your dreaming, they were dangerous, those people, the ones who did not earn their keep with you. They were potential killers or thieves.
And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.
– The Absolutely True Diary of Part Time Indian
“Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.”
It’s June, soon to be the first official day of summer which means more down-time for leisure reading. So far this year I can’t recall anything I’ve read that blew my mind…but I’ve been reading consistently even in the midst of tying up my Spring semester which makes me very happy. Now that it’s the summer before I begin Grad school, I will be reading like I’m getting paid for it.
Here’s what I’ve read so far this year (that I can remember):
1. Paper Dollhouse by Dr. Lisa Masterson (full review here)
Gist: Wonderful, moving writing from a Black woman that hails from Louisiana to make it as an obstetrician and gynecologist. You may know her from the Emmy Award-winning TV show The Doctors.
Recommend: Yes, I enjoyed her writing style– I didn’t feel like she was this stuffy person I couldn’t relate to. It never feels like she’s overwhelming you with details or information. It’s a must-read if you’re looking for inspiration.
2. Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
Genre: Fiction but based on the true story of the Atlanta murders of the late 1970’s-early 1980’s.
Gist: “Leaving Atlanta tells the story of classmates Tasha Baxter, Rodney Green and Octavia Harrison during their fifth-grade year at Oglethorpe Elementary in Atlanta.” (read the rest of the review from We Turn the Page).
Recommend: Yes, not her best book (in my opinion). Worth a read.
3. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Gist: If you’ve never read anything by Sedaris, you should treat yourself to comedic gold. He usually employs his personal family history to write really funny stories, in this book, he also includes some touching stories.
Recommend: Yes. The only problem that I have with Sedaris’ books is that they are good ‘in-the-moment’ books (which are usually collections of short stories), but they are not very memorable. Outside of 1 or 2 stories, I can only remember moments, nothing really sticks with me once the book is done.
Gist: A touching story told from both a mother’s and daughter’s mother’s point of view about her young daughter who is the victim of senseless violence in the grimy streets of New York.
Recommend: Yes, had some gold moments. Made me consider all the things my mother sacrificed for me. How it’s easy to judge her, but maybe not fairly since I’m not a mom yet.
5. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Genre: Classic/Political Satire
Gist: Animals on Manor Farm decide to form a coup to run the farm on their own. It’s all done on the premise that animals are smart enough produce and provide for themselves, but eventually Orwell explores what happens when too much power is given to one animal group.
Recommend: Yes! It wasn’t a stuffy book like I first imagined, it’s a simple read which I’m sure is filled with more gems and criticism than my fast reading could pick up.
6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Genre: Young adult fiction
Gist: A young boy, Junior, is in a dilemma. He lives on an Indian reservation but has dreams of going further than his current situation allows. Why is he a part-time Indian? Read the book and find out.
Recommend: Yes. It’s witty, raw and truthfully sad at times. Junior is also a sketch artist, and his cartoons are strewn about the pages.
7. A Taste of Reality by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Gist: Among other things going wrong in her life, a black woman battles discrimination in her white-dominated corporate job, and decides to fight against it.
Recommend: Meh. I didn’t find her writing to be AMAZING, but it was tolerable. Maybe I will give another one of her books a shot, she has plenty to choose from.
8. Mandingo by SIDI (don’t judge me!)
Genre: Urban erotica
Gist: An African student studying at Columbia University looses his father and therefore funding for school so he has to get side job. Guess what that is? You so smart!
Recommend: No. I was bored and desperate to read any book.
9. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre: Fiction short-stories
Gist: A collection of stories about immigrants, specifically (East) Indian transplants and their American children. Most of the stories are entities of their own but there are some that are intertwined. They are very engaging and powerful portraits of Indian culture and the American culture shock, which include love, loss and changes. You might be more familiar with Ms. Lahiri’s work The Namesake, which was also turned into a movie.
Recommend: Yes, very moving writer and I look forward to more of her work.
Currently Reading: 50 Shades of Grey by EL James. I caved in to all the hypes, and got the trilogy for free. So if you’re interested in reading, let me know. I can forward that to you in PDF Format, yo!
Anything memorable you’ve read this year so far? Do share…
12 thoughts on “Halfway Through 2012: Book Checklist”
Awesome! Go you! And you read some great books.
I love biographies so I’ll check out “Paper Dollhouse”. I re-read a good bio recently. It’s “The Other Side of Paradise” by Stacyann Chin.
I read “The Prisoner’s Wife” by Asha Bandele. It was a good read. I’ll check out “Daughters”.
I read something by Kimberla Lawson Roby a long time ago, I can’t remember the book though.
I read “Namesake” and saw the film. I also read “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri. It’s a book of short stories.
I’ve been meaning to read Ms. Chin’s autobiography- I’ve actually met her before and know all about her journey into being impregnated and now raising a baby girl alone.
Let’s just say Roby is not very memorable, lol.
Lahiri is awesome, she makes storytelling seem so easy. I liked the ‘Namesake’ book the best, but it was nice to get visuals from the movie. I just wasn’t sure if ‘Kumar’ as the main character convinced me.
I will have to check out the Prisoner’s Wife!
Thanks for commenting.
Wow, that’s cool that you met Stacyann. Yeah I read that she had a baby. She’s an interesting person.
If you want to see another book and film about an immigrants story check out “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali. The book and the film are really good.
No, it didn’t eat your comment, but for some reason they were pending for approval although you’ve been commenting this whole time. weird. Will add books to Shelfari, thanks.
Did WordPress eat my comment? Lol Anyway, mainly I mentioned a book called “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali. It’s a great book and it has also been made into a film, which I saw and really liked.
Oh and it’s cool that you got to meet Stacyann Chin.
Just added “Brick Lane” to my Audible wish list!
I loved Leaving Atlanta. Silver Sparrow, as well. Tayari Jones is a solid writer. Animal Farm is a pretty good read, I read the entire book in one day. I am currently reading The Alchemist, nearly everyone had recommended and I finally purchased and Toni Morrison’s Home. The Alchemist, Home and Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton are the only books I’ve read this summer. I tried Horse Whisperer after watching the movie, but couldn’t get into it.
I am waiting to get my hands on Silver Sparrow. I’ve read Jones’ ‘The Untelling’ and I related so much with the protagonist, not only because she’s 26, but because she captured the ‘in-between’ stage lots of us young adults feel trapped in. The not-quite-an-adult but not a child anymore stage. The neither here nor there, and making life’s major decisions stage.
I can’t read Morrison alone, to deconstruct her writing is a heavy task. I will add the other books to my Shelfari account, thanks for recommending.
We have different tastes in books but here are a few that I’ve read somewhat recently that I really enjoyed. “How to be Black” by Baratunde Thurston — It was funny and all about being yourself, no matter what race you are. “Tunnel People” by Teun Voeten — Documented the lives of the homeless population that lives beneath the streets of New York in subway tunnels. An amazing read. “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore — The concept is kind of blasphemous but it’s done with a gentle respect and I think this book was fantastic. Loved it.
Added to the list!
[…] I do have a list of the books I read for the first half of 2012. Honorable mentions include: Daughters by asha bandele and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time […]