currently reading

Currently Reading: Sandra Cisneros (Loose Woman Poems)

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510jjkcaAVL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgHaving read and become a fan of A House on Mango Street, there was little hesitation in acquiring this collection. At the time I read A House on Mango Street (high school) I wasn’t aware Cisneros also wrote poetry (or forgot). With my interest in poetry resurging and also wanting to tackle my neglected short reads, Loose Woman seemed ideal. In fact, I’m not sure why I didn’t grab it off my shelf sooner.

So far, I would say what has been said about the work isn’t fluff. Keep Reading

Currently Reading: Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

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Acquired this copy my senior year of high school when helping our English teacher & Department Chair clear out one of their storage rooms. She allowed us to take books for free 🙂

Felt the urge to re-read and actually finish this classic *coughs 15 years later.* In high school, it wasn’t due to a lack of interest that I didn’t complete my reading session, but circumstance. I’d  fallen behind on reading assignments due to illness, and in an attempt to balance all of  my other classes stayed behind the rest of my English one. Every near catch up was still a chapter or few behind, until the time came we were going to watch the film adaptation in class. I figured what was the point? The rest of the story would be spoiled so, I settled with just enjoying the movie.
This urge was probably less out of the blue and more a subliminal encouragement when factoring in the kinds of things happening around the United States socially and politically and a not too distant announcement of Harper Lee releasing another book (simultaneously sequel and prequel), Go Set a Watchman, this summer. A work that I find intriguing given its content and the timing for Lee to pop back on literary radar in preparation for it. Keep Reading

Currently Reading: Danzy Senna (Caucasia)

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© L.A. Lanier via Instagram

The debut novel Caucasia by Danzy Senna caught my eye at a clearance sale event. I was unfamiliar with her name, but read some of what was on the back cover and decided to hold on to it. Seeing a work that isn’t a text-book covering matters of race by having biracial main characters or those of mixed ethnicities has been rare for me. Not that I have thoroughly researched, but I guess the fact I believe I would have to research in order to find more works and writers touching on the subject reiterates my point.

I’ve noticed that lately diversity/inclusive reading and writing is encouraged more and more. A concept I consider a good thing (as long as it avoids tokenism, which I’ll save for another time). But from my view, when discussing minority groups* the emphasis tends to be specifically in reference to African, African American, Asian, Asian American, Latino, Native American, and those along the Queer spectrum. Again while I think this is a good thing, and probably a reflection of the people doing the advocating,  people of color do not always fit so neatly into any one category. What it comes down to is self-identity. Many people who consider themselves Black/African American, are also still blended with other ethnicities. Regardless of how brown they are or aren’t. Others may identify as Black without the African American because it isn’t applicable (i.e. those of Latin American origins). And others still who are blended identify as mixed/other/multiracial etc. Because that’s how they chose to identify or how society has made them feel. I can attest to the latter. Caucasia is wonderful at illustrating this self-identification struggle and gives the reader an enlightening, even if familiar for some, perspective.

One thing off-putting when I’m considering a new book to buy, is overwhelming amounts of praise. I understand the marketing sense of it. But when it’s all over I raise a brow and think really, this is all necessary? Sometimes it takes away from the aesthetic of the book, other times I think it cheapens the work. Because it calls into question how the author attained them. Especially the more “prestigious” they are. My copy of Caucasia is no exception. The book has a couple quotes on the front, several on the back and more than a couple of pages within. However, the topic and the potential of it being a good story was more important to me than this praise pet peeve. I read the opening, a single page of three succinct paragraphs and became hooked. Senna knew what she was doing, and much like Invisible Man it’s made me want to keep reading. Last night, I think I read my biggest stretch of a hundred and some odd pages. Which I don’t do often. The layout of the book makes it easy to find stopping points, which I appreciate, because what’s another twenty-four pages here or there, and there?

*If not apparent by things I’ve shared, I read and continue to read works from any of these groups and them some because I have no qualms doing so. This was just to comment it’s near impossible to be completely inclusive when advocating for diversity because some groups will get more attention than others for various reasons.

Currently Reading: Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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© Image courtesy of L.A. Lanier’s Instagram (@thesquibbler)

I didn’t snag this one on a whim. It was recommended, and over the years I heard good things, but it took me a while to acquire simply because I kept forgetting when on the prowl for new reads and expanding my collection. I decided it would be next because it was more challenging at 580 pages than the other works I’ve read this month. I may have mentioned I’m not the fastest of readers, and because of this I can easily talk myself out of choosing a book to read. Anything beyond 400 pages starts to look intimidating and the “task” of getting through it can be overwhelming, especially if anyone else knows I’m supposedly reading it. And I just don’t trust myself  to be able to tackle the works within “reasonable” amounts of time. But the only way to help improve my reading speed is to keep reading and keep taking on those that take longer to digest, at least on the surface. So far, I’m a little more than halfway through, and pleased with the pace I’ve been going, almost to the point of proud. But that won’t happen until I can check it off as read. Invisible Man hasn’t disappointed either. The writing is far more engaging than I was expecting based on the synopsis and so well executed. Some paragraphs sing almost poetically while others push you to read more, and it makes me pause to reflect and consider things about myself and those around me. And really it’s just been the kind of book I need to read at this moment in my life. So if you were one of few that encouraged me to pick it up. Thank you.

Currently Reading: Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun)

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

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© Image courtesy of L.A. Lanier’s Instagram (@thesquibbler)

As part of the Advanced Placement English curriculum during my junior year (11th grade) of high school, we had the option of reading one of two plays. This and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I read the latter with no problem. I purchased both works, but never got around to reading A Raisin in the Sun. Unfortunately, I think some of the reason I didn’t select Hansberry was because there was this sense of you should learn more about your heritage. But when it came to the students it seemed as if ones blackness was called into question if you weren’t reading all of these prominent black female writers when given the option (Toni Morrison, naturally another). I certainly appreciated the fact that a southern suburban high school, gave us the option, and didn’t insist on only reading white American male authors. However, all the other females in my class of black heritage were reading it, and this notion of we’re going to determine who you are was a huge turn off. So, I resisted. Plus the synopsis for Menagerie appealed more to me. What amused me later, was when we watched film adaptations, these students were some of the first who seemed disinterested in either play. Further encouraging me to remove myself from this display of false pride flag waving. Years later, it’s still in my unread pile…until now. After reading one play I was in the mood for another and thought what better time to rectify this wrong that was no fault of Hansberry’s, but self-exploring adolescent circumstances.

If interested in a written review or just to hear my opinions on the work let me know in the comments or contact me 🙂

Currently Reading: Wole Soyinka (Death and The King’s Horseman)

Death And The King’s Horseman: A Play by Wole Soyinka.

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© Image courtesy of L.A. Lanier’s Instagram (@thesquibbler)

I acquired this book on a complimentary whim without any prior knowledge of the author. The cover design, name, and, admittedly, length helped. In the past, I’ve had the habit of trying to stick to recommended lists or authors I remembered from classes. As I matured I realized how limiting that can be, especially for someone who writes, when the majority of those included were renowned North American or English authors, and likely classics. Each time I had the opportunity to read beyond “my” culture, I found a great joy in it, and it’s something I continue and encourage. I also get a kick out of taking a chance and discovering new authors. I’ve made dozens of selections this way prior to my palm sized technology. Now when hitting up book stores, I utilize my cell phone to get a general idea of new authors, if there’s too much doubt, but it’s still just as exciting. Anywho, I don’t expect that by reading more diversely I’ll become some expert of experiences those in other countries face, their histories, or even truly understand what life is/was like, but it does make me feel more globally connected because it provides a wider scope of what it means to be human and not just [insert nationality].

If you’d like a written review or my opinion on this work, feel free to let me know in the comments or contact me. 🙂