January: a book with high expectations - Becoming Duchess Goldblat by Anonymous (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020) Bonus: bought because of the hype - Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski (Ballantine Books, 2019) February: #BlackLitChallenge (see below) including two books from my bookshelf: Kindred by Octavia Butler (original publication Doubleday, 1979) Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Avon, 2019) March: a book you bought on a trip (from the lovely Winding Stair Bookstore in Dublin) - The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty (Serpent's Tail, 2012) Bonus: most recently acquired - Secret of the Blue Lily by Angela M. Sanders (Widow's Kiss, 2020) April: a book you want to learn from (moved from September because reading with a friend) - Life Reimagined: The Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty (Riverhead Books, 2016) Bonus: a book you got for free - Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (originally published 1969) May: a book you bought as a new release - That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour by Sunita Puri (Viking Press, 2019) June: a book you bought on a spending spree - Reckless by Selena Montgomery (Avon Books, 2008) Bonus: a book I've been waiting for! Flowers through Concrete: Explorations in Soviet Hippieland by my colleague and excellent historian Juliane Fuerst (Oxford University Press, 2021) July-August: library book reading rather than from my bookshelf September - Bonus category: a book you bought because of a recommendation - Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020)
Read Black Authors
My goal this year is to read Black authors across genres - and to support Black authors by buying their books.
February:#BlackLitChallenge hosted by The Artisan Geek - 4 books / 4 countries, instructions here U.S.A.: Kindred by Octavia Butler (original publication Doubleday, 1979) - Compelling time-travel tale of a young Black woman sent back from 1980s to slavery in the 1860s. U.K.: Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Avon, 2019) - Sexy, funny romance with a heroine who lives with chronic pain. Yep, that's what I said. I now want to read everything by Talia Hibbert. Ghana: His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medea (Algonquin Books, 2020) - A young woman feels honored to enter an arranged marriage with an eligible young man in the city, but learns that she must stand up for herself in the midst of competing family priorities. Kenya: Petals of Blood by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o (Penguin Books, 2002; originally published, 1977) - Ngugi Wa Thiong'o is professor emeritus at the university where I work. I have heard him speak of the risks to his life resulting from his writing, including the publication of this book. A murder investigation that is a searing condemnation of the legacies of colonialism.
Fiction Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020) - this novel, told from the perspective a young Ghanaian American woman, is beautiful and heart-wrenching as she faces the consequences of immigration, addiction and depression in her family. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin who is absolutely amazing.
Mysteries Blanche Cleans Up by Barbara Neely (Penguin Books, 1998); 3rd book in the Blanche on the Lam mystery series (January) Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely (Penguin Books, 2000); 4th book in the Blanche on the Lam mystery series (April) I read the first two in the series last year and cannot recommend these books highly enough even if you don't read "mystery novels." Blanche deals with systemic racism, assault by racists, colorism in the black community and raising two children, all while solving murders along the way. These novels are darkly funny, well-plotted mysteries and intense social commentary.
Romance Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Avon, 2019) Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson (Berkeley, 2020) Reckless by Selena Montgomery (Avon Books, 2008) - when I found out that Stacey Abrams is not only a badass politician, she also wrote romance novels, I knew I wanted to contribute to her royalties as well as to her organizing work so I bought three of her novels.