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text 2020-06-02 14:13
Kindred - Octavia E. Butler
Beloved - Toni Morrison
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream - Barack Obama
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration - Isabel Wilkerson
If Beale Street Could Talk - James Baldwin
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Wisehouse Classics Edition) - Frederick Douglass
African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850�1920 - Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Here are some books by African American authors you may want to read:


Kindred by Octavia Butler: The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given...


Beloved by Toni Morrison: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past. Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander: "Jarvious Cotton's great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole." 
As the United States celebrates the nation's "triumph over race" with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status--much like their grandparents before them.



The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
by Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama's call for a new kind of politics—a politics that builds upon those shared understandings that pull us together as Americans. Lucid in his vision of America's place in the world, refreshingly candid about his family life and his time in the Senate, Obama here sets out his political convictions and inspires us to trust in the dogged optimism that has long defined us and that is our best hope going forward.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
by Isabel Wilkerson: n this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin: In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin's story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions-affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (The Autobiographies #1) by Frederick Douglass. Autobiography of Frederick Douglass. 
African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920
by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn: Drawing from original documents, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn constructs a comprehensive portrait of the African American women who fought for the right to vote. She analyzes the women's own stories of why they joined and how they participated in the U.S. women's suffrage movement. Not all African American women suffragists were from elite circles. Terborg-Penn finds working-class and professional women from across the nation participating in the movement. Some employed radical, others conservative means to gain the right to vote. But Black women were unified in working to use the ballot to improve both their own status and the lives of Black people in their communities.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly: The #1 New York Times Bestseller. Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘coloured computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets and astronauts, into space. Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War and the women’s rights movement, ‘Hidden Figures’ interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world. 
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates: "We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. Now Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president."
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review 2020-04-11 04:06
Surprisingly thoughtful
In Five Years - Rebecca Serle

The book's description and the categorization of this as a romance novel is misleading. It's more about a process of self-discovery and friendship. I was prepared to write this off as just light chic lit about a protagonist with a very specific and privileged type of lifestyle (corporate lawyer in NYC) and, while there are plenty of tropes, the author's aware and thoughtful enough to actually give a decently compelling narrative about life. I enjoyed. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator does a lovely job. 

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text 2020-04-04 19:05
Yet another reason why I miss Inter-Library Loan
British Aviation: The Pioneer Years, 1903-1914 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation: The Great War and Armistice, 1915-1919 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation: The Adventuring Years, 1920-1929 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation: Widening Horizons, 1930-1934 - Harald Penrose
British Aviation, The Ominous Skies, 1935 1939 - Harald Penrose

Lately I have been on a First World War aviation reading kick. I don't know why, but the topic is engaging me more than others. I read a couple of books back in February, and I've been searching for some others that can fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge.


That's how I found about Harald Penrose and his five-volume series on British aviation. Penrose was an amazing individual, a test pilot who later in life wrote several books on flight and the history of it. I have no doubt that I've seen his books on shelves before, only now my interests have aligned with his work, and I wouldn't mind trying him out.


Only I can't. My usual starting point after a brief confirmation that my local libraries don't have a book is to request it through Inter-Library Loan. Then after a week or so the book shows up for me to peruse, after which I start it, buy my own copy, or pass on it and move on. But I can't do any of those this because well, you know why.


At this point, I'm deciding whether to take a plunge on one of the first two volumes, which are the ones that currently interest me the most. This would be easy if the price were right, but while I'm willing to spend $70-80 on a book that I want, I'm much less willing to do so to decide whether it's a book I want. So I'm bidding on a copy on eBay to get it to a price I can live with. Fingers crossed that the seller is either reasonable or desperate!

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review 2020-03-31 16:08
In Five Years
In Five Years - Rebecca Serle

So the main reason why I gave this four stars is this is styled as a romance and there is not a happily ever after or even a happily for now when we finish this book. I understand why Serle did this, but since this is in the romance genre I frowned about that. Another reason why I gave this four stars is that parts of this novel dragged. I also wish we had gotten a bit more character development for certain characters. However, in the end I thought Serle told a wonderful love story, just not about who readers may think she is telling us about.  


"In Five Years" follows Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan. Dannie is happy and living with her long-term boyfriend David. She is off to interview for what for her will be the best job in the world. Dannie already knows that David plans on proposing that night so everything on her life plan list is coming together. Dannie and David are simpatico on what they want their future to look like. After David proposes, and she accepts, they return home. When Dannie falls asleep that night she wakes up five years in the future in an apartment she doesn't know with a man named Aaaron. When Dannie falls asleep again she wakes up back in the past and wonders what is going on. This incident leaves Dannie shaken and wonders what went wrong in her life that five years from now everything is so different. 


The book follows Dannie as we get a fast forward of the five years where she thinks her "doom" lays. We get to see some insights into Dannie, her long-term relationship, and her long-standing friendship with her best friend Bella. 


I have to say that this was an interesting premise. Serle does a very good with the magical elements aspect of this story. She doesn't try to over explain it. It just is something that happens to Dannie. Because of this incident though, Dannie is stuck in her life. You keep reading and you realize she is waiting for the shoe to drop. And then it does when she finally meets Aaron in her present and his connection to someone close to her.


I will say that Serle should have built up Dannie's relationship with her long term best friend Bella more. We get more of that development towards the middle and definitely the end of the book. I wonder if that was a choice though. Since we know the character of Dannie is regimented and has her "plans" we don't see her start to thaw out until we get towards the ending. 


And I am going to offer another bit of criticism, we initially have Dannie enthralled and in love with her boyfriend David. You can see why she loves him. But then we do the time jumps and one wonders how much the future incident affected things between them. We do get some insights into other characters that are introduced, but it's quite fleeting. 


The setting of this book is New York in 2020. We jump ahead four years and follow Dannie again at the start of 2025. I do have to say that with everything going on in the world right now it made my heart a bit heavy. I wonder how other readers feel about futuristic settings of books? Weirdly enough though the book doesn't seem to touch on any cultural events. I wonder if Serle did this on purpose to enable readers to read this book at any time and not feel like it's dated? 


I have to say that I am glad this book did not follow "One Day in December" (BTW I did not like that book) or "One Day" (ditto). I think Serle did a great job threading the needle since at times I know readers are not going to like Dannie at all. I thought the ending of this book was true and we now know what type of event would have propelled Dannie into the future. 

Finished this for Snakes and Ladders 2020. 


1. Author is a woman (thankfully I have a lot of current reads that fit this square). 

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text 2020-03-30 17:22
Contemplating a new reading project while isolating
The Young Henry Adams - Ernest Samuels
Henry Adams: The Middle Years - Ernest Samuels
Henry Adams: The Major Phase - Ernest Samuels

So the angry creamsicle in the White House has announced that social distancing guidelines are going to be extended to April 30. It's probably for the best, given that the worst thing we do is prematurely end them only to face a need to start over. Considering that the group in the U.S. most vocally pushing back against social distancing has been feeding off of his temperamental whims on the subject, though, it would have been nice if he hadn't enabled them as much as he has until now.


Though I'm hoping that I can gain access to my office before then, I'm preparing myself for the prospect that the administration is going to tie the date for reopening them for faculty to whenever the state or federal governments end restrictions. Again I can respect the decision, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating in terms of accessing all of those TBR books I have up there that I would love to be clearing through right now.


Because of this, I'm contemplating a new reading project. A few months back I posted about how I decided to acquire Ernest Samuels's three-volume biography of Henry Adams. Though copies are affordably available online, I have yet to encounter any of the volumes in my visits to used bookstores, which has been a mite frustrating but not really an issue as it's been such a low-priority matter for me. Now with another month of at-home reading ahead of me and nothing especially appealing at hand I'm wondering if I should take the plunge, order the three volumes (all of which I could acquire for the combined cost of a new hardcover book), and read them over the next month.


So what do you think? Would you like to start reading posts about a multi-volume biography of Henry Adams? Or should I just suck it up, knuckle under, and read the hundreds of other books that I have sitting around the house instead? Feel free to post your comments, as I'd appreciate the guidance.

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