While 2020 has brought its challenges, it has also brought me the best reading year I’ve had in a long time. Like you, I’ve been inside for many hours with nothing to do but read (oh, darn). Here are some of my most enjoyed reads so far.
5. White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson
Jackson’s book not only unravels the sheer expanse of cultural appropriation in the U.S. but also its insidious roots. Before reading White Negroes, I was familiar with cultural appropriation—cornrows donned by white women, bhindis sported at music festivals—but the depth of American culture rooted in unacknowledged Black artistry and ingenuity was appalling. Music, fine art, language, fashion, meme culture—Jackson sheds light on it all.
4. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
It’s funny, prose steeped in poetic rhythm and verse is not usually my thing. I knew Vuong was a poet by trade before starting this book, and simply, I didn’t think this would do it for me. His debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, actually blew me away. Its structure and writing style were beautifully complementary—I wanted to sit and entertain each sentence. If you’re a fan of Frank O’Hara’s poetry—i.e., you enjoy lines of verse that feel breathless and heart wrenching—pick this up.
3. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
I enjoyed this novel because it left me so unsettled. It’s a story that feels isolated from reality while also feeling so entrenched in society’s underbelly. Ogawa’s book is dystopian, psychological, even philosophical at some points. I think what I enjoyed most was that the book felt dystopian, yet without an intense drive toward survival—that’s what was unsettling.
2. Educated by Tara Westover
Yes, I know I’m late to the game. However, this memoir lived up to everything everyone told me it would be.
1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Need I say more? Each character in this novel was full and alive. Often I skip characters’ plotlines in multi-POV stories, but that was far from the truth in The Vanishing Half. What I think elevates this novel from good to excellent is the last fifty pages. The final glimpses we get of the characters and their interwoven stories were so poignant. I’ll echo the Greek chorus - read this book!
PERSONAL READING STATS SO FAR:
Total Books Read - 25; Goal - 50
Total Pages Read - 6,887
Total BIPOC Authors Read - 12