It’s the most…wonderful time…of the year…Book Lovers Day weekend!
For those of you who are completely new to this holiday (as I was last year): Book Lovers Day is on August 9. It is the day you have permission to hunker down and do nothing but read. And read. And read some mo’. Oh, I love it.
If you need ideas for what to read, check out some of my previous recommendations:
For more ideas, be sure to peruse the Zora Canon list of the 100 greatest books written by African American women. I am usually suspicious about Best Of and Greatest Ever lists (and rankings lists in general), but the Zora Canon is such a bold, anti-racist move – and so full of good books – that I had to give it props. I can personally recommend many of the selections on the list, but one that I am especially passionate about in the current moment is Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts, a late 20th century classic about the impact of U.S. government policies on African American women’s health, rights, and well being.
Another book I really like is ¡Yo! by Julia Alvarez, a brilliant and utterly hilarious late 1990s fiction work about a writer named Yolanda (Yo for short). Yo becomes famous after penning a novel whose characters are all modeled after people she has encountered in her real life. Those people are the main narrators in ¡Yo!, so you get to hear what they all think about her. The gossipy feel of the book and its eclectic cast of characters make for entertaining reading, but there is much more to this book than laughs. Between (and often within) the funny scenes, Alvarez takes you deep into some heavy topics: colorism, classism, being in the closet, domestic violence, and stalking, to name only a few. All of this while writing from over a dozen narrative points of view, juggling umpteen story lines, and navigating overlapping byways of humor, irony, and compassion. ¡Yo! is an impressive creative achievement, ambitiously conceived and extraordinarily written.
It’s hard to believe that just one year ago this month I was reading John Lewis’ autobiography Walking with the Wind. As many of you know, Congressman Lewis was a hero of the African American civil rights movement. He died on July 17. Damn, it hurts to type those words. Thank you for your life, John Lewis. May you rest in power.
I plan to spend this year’s Book Lovers Day listening to How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I am halfway through it and have learned so much.
If you have time and want to share, let me know what you chose to read and how it affected you.
Long live the book!