I’ve read a whole bunch so far this year that I haven’t blogged about for a variety of reasons – too busy, too lazy, too self-critical about my reviews – but there’s some good stuff on this list I want to tell you guys about and I thought a format change might be the way to do it. So, without further ado, here are 10 reviews in 20 sentences!
The Spirit Catches You, with its criminally terrible cover and dated anthropological posture, continues to be an important and compelling book about how all our lives literally depend on being able to truly listen to one another. Be sure to get the 2012 edition with new afterword by the author.
Like Lindy West’s Shrill, Trevor Noah’s story-essays form a loose autobiographical narrative about the fun, hardship, and general fucked-up-ness of growing up mixed in South Africa in the 1990s. Through his choice of which stories to tell and how he tells them, Noah shows us why he feels the way he does about matters of race and class and government – views that many of us will disagree with but that none of us can disrespect after getting to know the man.
It’s a crime that Americans don’t read more short stories, because it leaves absolute treasures like Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies undiscovered. These stories are touching, sweet, serious, sad, and delightful in every single way.
It turns out my skepticism over whether a privileged white kid could research and write an accurate, compelling, and tone-appropriate book on housing problems faced by the urban poor was unfounded. Evicted is not only eye-opening, it is a realistic call to action and everyone should read it.
The Highway Act of 1956 set in motion a decades-long process in which poor communities and communities of color were demolished with impunity to make way for the interstate highway system connecting our major urban centers. Here in St. Paul, the ravaged neighborhood was Rondo, and Evelyn Fairbanks tells us charming stories about growing up there in the 30s and 40s, before I94 changed everything.
I don’t really understand how a book gets made into a movie before the book is published, but whatever. The book is better (duh) and you should read it.
I MET NNEDI OKORAFOR AND SHE SIGNED MY BOOK AND OH MY GOD I LOVE HER SHE IS SO COOL AND HER BOOKS ARE SO AMAZING AND I LOVE HER SO MUCH PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD READ BINTI AND BINTI:HOME. Also, did I say how much I love Nnedi Okorafor? Cuz I really love her shit. It’s weird and wild and fucked up in the best possible way, like a love letter to Octavia Butler in novel form.
The Girl From Everywhere is exactly the sort of escapism we all need right now. As a YA book, it’s a quick read, but is by no means unsophisticated.
I’m Just A Person fills in the details of the backstory behind Tig Notaro’s incredible Live (pronounced like the verb, to be alive, not like the adjective to describe a performance as it happens) performance. It is interesting and funny, but there’s a lot of re-tread; so probably only partake if you have no idea what I’m talking about or you’re already a superfan.