While I make a valiant effort, I don’t review every single book that I read. Sometimes, I have far too many books queued up to take the time, or sometimes life holds my calendar hostage. Unfortunately, the books from my book club are most often the ones I skip reviewing. We read such good stuff, I hate that I overlook them on this blog.
For those of you who aren’t a part of book clubs, I really cannot recommend them enough. They’re a great reason to read new books, or catch up on ones the whole group forgot to read. Really, I’m down to discuss any subject over a bottle of wine (or 2…or 4.) and cupcakes. Normally, someone volunteers to be discussion leader, meaning they read the book to the end and formulate a couple of questions to get the group going. Sometimes they do extra research to see if the author is coming to the area anytime soon, or if they’ve been in the news recently. We rotate hosts as well, to ensure the responsibility doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders. Our book club is pretty academic, since we read mostly non-fiction, but I could imagine that ones featuring any type of book would be fun. What matters most is that you have a good group of people who enjoy each other’s company.
Here’s what we’ve been up to these past few months:
September Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (4 stars): Coates is an amazing (HBCU-bred!) writer and researcher. Everything he publishes is polished and hard-hitting, whether or not you choose to agree with it. Despite certain books rubbing me the wrong way, I enjoyed this book. I’ve also bought The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood to read as well. Hopefully I’ll do a joint review some day.
October Just Mercy: A story of justice and redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (4 stars): Y’all can find my review for Just Mercy here. In short, I thought this book was really well done. Certain aspects were irksome ( I talk about that more in the review), but I can honestly say that Bryan Stevenson is a brilliant man, a great writer, and a steadfast advocate for those on death row. I promise that Just Mercy will inspire deep thought on the justness of death penalty sentences.
November We didn’t have a book this month– instead we put together a collection of essays and articles on mass-incarceration and other related subjects. Combined, the articles amounted to a 171-paged packet with ample material to discuss. Among those articles were “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” “The Ghost of Cornel West,” “Lifting as We Climb,” “Who’s to Blame for Mass Incarceration?,” and a response piece entitled “Historical Method and the Noble Lie.”
December Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, by Melissa Harris Perry (3 stars): I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. However, I see what she was trying to do, and I respect it so much. Melissa Harris Perry is a fantastic journalist and writer, however this book made me question whether she is a social scientist as well. Sister Citizen would have been so much better with additional “meat” to bolster what she was saying– then it would have earned a solid 5 stars.
January Dreams from my Father, by Barack Obama (4.5 stars): I enjoyed this book so much. This gave me a taste of the presidential memoirs that will likely come at the end of the Obama presidency. If his writing skills are anything like they were when this book was written, we’re in for a treat.
February Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism, by Derrick Bell: We’re having out book club meeting this week, so I don’t want to throw out a rating quite yet.
Coming up in March: Citizen: An American lyric, by Claudia Rankine
Some of these books are absolute gold mines, so I’m considering retroactively reviewing some of them for the blog. Or maybe I’ll make book club guides for other groups who decide to read these books.
Have y’all read any of these? Are there specific ones for which you’d like to see a full length review? Let me know in the comments! Also feel free to note if you have some other books that we should add to our 2016 book club roster.