In a modest effort to increase my monthly nonfiction intake – and also taking advice from this helpful article on enhancing the reading experience http://myhometableau.com/the-one-thing-ive-learned-to-help-me-read-more/ – I’m continuing to experiment with reading two books at the same time.
Book 1 – “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell
I read and loved his in-depth analysis of the patterns of success in “Outliers” and heard great things about this book as well. I’m 155 pages in and so far am not in love with it yet. The stories are interesting (of course) but a few conclusions seem to be drawn from relatively weak links (Paul Revere vs William Dawes and the New York phone book “test” particularly). So far, this book doesn’t seem to be as tightly woven as it’s predecessor but many of the concepts Gladwell presents are – even when seemingly simplistic – paradigm shifting. This is one to check out.
Book 2 – “Wizard of the Crow: A Novel” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
This novel has been on my ‘Book Bucket List’ for a few years. To put it simply, the story surrounds a fictitious country in Africa called “Aburiria”. Aburiria, like many countries in the region, is torn by political parties fighting for control of the country and it’s resources. This satire is loaded with symbolism surrounding political and humanitarian themes. I’m only a few pages in but can already sense that I’ll be writing a separate post on this one. Stay tuned; this story is epic.
“And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.”
I love Junot Diaz. His prose is energetic and his voice is one of the most unique I have encountered in years. “This Is How You Lose Her” is not cut from the same award-winning cloth as his earlier novels, but Diaz shines here. His writing is a masterful mix of street style and high brow technique; his tempo ranges from fast paced to methodically analytical. Many find his language offensive but I appreciate the boldness and authenticity of his prose. This is a quick and enjoyable read that examines love – perhaps a cliched topic – with fresh perspective.
Check it out and let us know what you think.
In honor of Ghanaian literature Week (November 11-17), I’m currently reading Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi. The text is insightful, engaging and simply beautiful. A review is forthcoming but until then, enjoy this snippet:
“To him, who could name grief by each one of her faces, the logic was familiar from a warmer third world, where the boy who tails his mother freshly bloodied from labor (fruitless labor) to the edge of an ocean at dawn – who sees her place the little corpse like a less lucky Moses all wrapped up in palm frond, in froth, then walk away, but who never hears her mention it, ever, not once – learns that ‘loss’ is a notion. No more than a thought. Which one forms or one doesn’t. With words. Such that one cannot lose, nor ever say he has lost, what he does not permit to exist in his mind.” (Page 10)
Pulitzer Prize winning genius Edward P Jones hit the ball out of the park with his debut novel. Vivid, descriptive, and captivating, The Known World deserves a standing ovation. Few authors effectively utilize “stream of consciousness” but Jones makes this technique appear effortless, adding difficulty by combining narratives from the past present and future.
But don’t take my word for it (in Levar Burton voice), below is an excerpt:
“His oldest child from his second marriage, Matthew, stayed up all the night before he was buried, putting his father’s history on a wooden tombstone. He began with his father’s name on the first line, and on the next, he put the years ofhis father’s coming and going. Then all the things he knew his father had been. Husband. Father. Farmer. Grandfather. Patroller. Tobacco Man. Tree Maker. The letters ofthe words got smaller and smaller as the boy, not quite twelve, neared the bottom ofthe wood because he had never made a headstone for anyone before so he had not compensated for all that he would have to put on it. The boy filled up the whole piece ofwood and at the end of the last line he put a period. His father’s grave would remain, but the wooden marker would not last out the year. The boy knew better than to put a period at the end ofsuch a sentence. Something that was not even a true and proper sentence, with subject aplenty, but no verb to pull it all together. A sentence, Matthew’s teacher back in Virginia had tried to drum into his thick Kinsey head, could live without a subject, but it could not live without a verb.”
Kaffir Boy – My never-ending search for auto-ethnographic texts (stay tuned for a post on this in the future), led me to this classic. Inspired by Richard Wright’s Black Boy, Kaffir Boy is an autobiographical narrative that explores Mark Mathabane’s childhood during South Africa’s apartheid. Introspective and analytical, this novel is simply captivating.
Philosophical Meditations on Richard Wright – Written by one of the authors of this blog *winks and looks over at him*, this text explores Richard Wright from a philosophical, psychological, and sociological perspective. Although this book is written for academics, I found it to be very engaging and even paradigm shifting in terms of perspective on Wright’s work.