reading is cool

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

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Recent Reads: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress By Dai Sijie

As a means to rejuvenate the leisure parts of my brain, I decided to look at some of the books on my shelf that are shorter reads and make my way through them, a sort of self challenge, if you will. The first one on my list, even though I’m someone who reads several books at once, was Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Now, I had no idea about the author or the book, it was one of those purchases that caught my eye and had the potential to be interesting. I judged the book by its cover and it paid off. Ignoring the quoted praise and National Bestseller*, I focused on the spine, title, and the cover photograph. All captivating and well done. I also enjoy exposing myself to more authors/writers from around the world whenever possible, so that was an additional incentive for me to get it.

The story is one that tells the life of childhood friends sent into “The Cultural Revolution” 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: 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. 🙂