"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

My bookmark is in the novel “The Silver Bear” by Derek Haas. An announcement was made a couple of weeks ago that a film adaptation is going to be made. It is a rare opportunity for me to read the book before the film is released. Columbus, a pristine assassin, is smoother than butter and bestowed the nickname “The Silver Bear” by the Russians, whom his mentor Vespucci is connected with. The voice is strong and makes the pages feel alive with Columbus’ swagger. This book I may read past my bedtime, delving more into each of Columbus’ missions.

My headphones are plugged into “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling. Her previous book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” was refreshingly funny. This book will give me the opportunity to hang out with a friend in my mind.

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

My bookmark is in the book “Black Fortunes” by Shomari Wills about the Black people who became millionaires after slavery. I’m fascinated by history that does not get covered in media. I’m looking forward to delving into this book, particularly during this time period.

In spirit of Halloween, I am happy to be listening to “Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel” by Disney Press and A.W. Jantha. Max and Allison’s daughter Poppy gets into toil and trouble with the Sanderson Sisters twenty-five years after Max lit the candle. This book is likely the closest thing audiences who adore the film will get to a sequel, so I am all here for it!

I hugged the book “Whiskey & Ribbons” by Leesa Cross-Smith after finishing it. A wonderful and heartbreaking read that I enjoyed turning each page. I wrote about the book last week and I am itching to read “Every Kiss Is A War” until Leesa releases her next book.

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

My bookmark is in the novel “Whiskey & Ribbons” by Leesa Cross-Smith. I make time before bed to read this book. The pages turn effortlessly as Evi grieves the loss of her husband, Eamon, days before the birth of their first child. The voices create a stunning timeline that adds the conflict because Evi is possibly maybe entering a relationship with Dalton, Eamon’s brother. The story is heartbreaking, remarkable and relatable. The discovery of this book was courtesy of the bookshelf at my local library.

I am listening to “Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl” by Carrie Brownstein. I was introduced to Carrie by the phenomenally eclectic and satirical show “Portlandia”. I am intrigued to hear more about her band Sleater Kinney with plenty of laughs and lessons along the way.

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

I am reading “When Dimple met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon. I heard about this book on Twitter. Then saw it at my local library’s bookshelf and snatched it up for my shelf. It is an unique romantic experience between young Indian people, understanding their cultural expectations yet exploring their voice and heart. The book cover is also inviting and fresh.

In spirit of my favorite holiday, Halloween, I am listening to “Interview with the Vampire” by Anne Rice. I have seen bits of the film enough to know who plays which character but also still be unaware of what is going to happen next. The narrator of the audiobook, Simon Vance, reads with the accent that makes the vampires alluring.

I finished “Call Me By Your Name” by André Aciman. It was a time when it was okay to read the novel after seeing the film, for there are some differences. While the book was quite descriptive in parts, there was wonderful imagery and language in the depths of Elio’s mind.

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

I am reading “Black Ink” by Stephanie Stokes Oliver. Nikki Giovanni, Zora Neale Hurston and Marlon James are among several of the prolific black writers who take on an aspect of writing and reveal their process. The book is a way to anthologize black voices for future generations of black writers like myself.

I am listening to “The Sun is Also A Star” by Nicola Yoon. The book is a YA novel about Natasha and Daniel, high school students who despite having different backgrounds are brought into each other’s universe. I am looking forward to delving into the world Yoon created. The title is remarkably striking.

On my way to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl last Friday, I soaked in “The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin. At intermission, I continued reading the book as chatter and chip crunching surrounded me. The story follows four siblings who learn about the day they will die from a fortune teller. What kept me turning the pages were the locales of where the characters lived, the imagery and of course, will the characters die on the day they were told? This book is wonderfully imaginative especially for the fall season. Enjoy the book with warm apple cider.

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

My bookmark is in the novel, “Halsey Street” by Naima Coster. Penelope moves back to Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn to care for her ailing father after thriving in Pittsburgh where she just bought a beautiful apartment. The voice is strong as is the description of the world Penelope and the characters inhabit. I find it fascinating that Penelope found more life in Pittsburgh and carries the responsibility to return to Brooklyn. This world is before the first fifty pages of the novel.

I am listening to “Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide” by Darryl McDaniels, who reads his story. He is one of the rappers in the legendary group Run DMC. I first saw this book two years ago in a South Jamaica Queens library. The title of course grabs my attention and also that it is a memoir. The first twenty minutes of the audiobook details Darryl’s relationship with his DMC group members and the moments that lead him to want to commit suicide. It is honest and raw, which should be nothing less with a story of this magnitude.

"Book On It"

“Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

I am listening to “Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okorafor. I learned about Okorafor through the beauty of being on Twitter and the revelation of work to know about because of “Black Panther”. The book is the first of the series from the main character, Sunny, a girl born in New York City and lives in Nigeria. She is sensitive to the sun because of her albinism and discovers a power. This book is a treat that embodies magic and mystery.

"On The Reel"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

My bookmark is in the short story collection “How to Love a Jamaican” by Alexia Arthurs. The first story hooked me in. I have turned the pages ever since, which is my favorite part of reading. Arthurs is from Jamaica and moved to Brooklyn as a pre-teen. Both locales are rooted in her writing, which makes for an authentic and beautiful reading experience that lifts from the page.

For two hours last night, I began listening to “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones. Much of the story is written in letters between Roy and Celestial, a married couple in Georgia who are grappling with Roy’s unjust prison sentence. Admittedly, I thought that I needed to read the physical book. Yet the narration by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis, for Roy and Celestial, respectively, with the Southern breath, love and tense drama gives an enjoyable perspective to the story. The book cover is simple yet stunning. I would put it on my coffee table.

Book On It

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

My bookmark is in the novel "Any Man" by Amber Tamblyn. I am not a fan of different structures in a novel. However, Tamblyn is also a poet and there is poetry written throughout, along with email and text chats that add to the instant communication era we live in. The novel is about a serial rapist named Maude and the perspective from the men she attacks. As Tamblyn is one of the members of the "Time's Up" movement, the novel is remarkably timely and ambitious. 

There is something extraordinary about the ordinary in the novel, "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng. Set in Shaker Heights, OH, two families are blended through the in and outs of the children growing in boredom. The audiobook is read by Jennifer Lim with sharpness, humor and awe, which are also elements that drive the story by Ng's writing. 

The memoir, "I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness" by Austin Channing Brown brings in her faith-based work with race and education. Her story is powerful, astonishing and reassuring, particularly to me her story about her cousin while he was in prison. It joins the stunning shelves of books about the black experience, furthermore as she is a black woman of faith. 

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

My bookmark is placed in "A Colony in a Nation" by Chris Hayes. The thesis of the book honestly is not quite clear to me. He writes about what is thought to be a post racial world. His connection for how the founding fathers and black men who were murdered by police work is fascinating and strong. I appreciate the stories that anchor the detriment and reality of police brutality, harassment of black people by police and the policies that were supposed to protect. The stories further show Hayes' signature on-ground reporting. 

I am listening to "Barracoon" by Zora Neale Hurston. It is the extraordinary story about the last African, whose name was changed to Cudjo Lewis, to arrive as a slave. This story was written decades upon decades ago and is vital for the perspective of a grim history. It is preposterous this book was not published at the time but paved way for the book to be received now. The introduction is widely detailed of how Hurston was granted the interview. By a scholar, she was even accused of plagiarism! 

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

I am reading "The Kitchen God's Wife" by Amy Tan. It is one of the books I picked up last week during my trip to the Los Angeles Public Library. I am finding a rhythm with the story and anticipating what the secret is that Pearl's mother is holding. 

I am listening to "Pushout" by Monique W. Morris. The book is about the criminalization of black girls and the policies that drive black girls away from school and into unsafe and unstable environments. The book also outlines ways to rectify the systemic actions. I like that the book has few statistics and is written with poetic tones. The personal stories astonishingly drive the thesis of the book. 

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

After months of sitting on my shelf, likely because I did not have to take the book back to the library, I am reading "Gem of the Ocean" by August Wilson. It is a rare treat for me to read a play. The play is a part of Wilson's collection of extraordinary work. 

I downloaded "Born Round" by Frank Bruni. Bruni used to be the New York Times restaurant critic. I am looking forward to a humorous and informative read of his memoir. 

Over the weekend, I met with my student mentee and another mentor/mentee pairing at the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles. On my walk with sweat dripping on my forehead, I thought "Oh my goodness, I get to go to the Central Public Library!" I browsed my favorite section at the library, the classics. I picked up three books I look forward to reading in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

I am reading "Take You Wherever You Go" by Kenny Leon. He is a Tony Award winning director. Quotes from the cover by Angela Bassett and Denzel Washington attest to Leon's gift and presence in their lives, alone making you eager to read the book. Yet it is Leon's vivid and reflective writing about his tight knit relationships with his grandmother and mother that keeps you turning the page. 

I am listening to "No Ashes in the Fire" by Darnell L. Moore. His writing details being a Black man in America from his perspective as a Black Lives Matter activist and journalist. This book continues the niche of learning about being black from the bodies and voices who live the life every day.  

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

I am smiling through "The Sky is Everywhere" by Jandy Nelson. Lennie is reeling from the death of her sister, Bailey and developing a connection between two boys, Toby and Joe. I am reveling in the dynamic between Lennie and Gram. Bailey is remembered in flashbacks and highlights her relationship with Lennie. Young Adult novels pull me in from the emotion. This story is not sugar coated and told smoothly amidst the complications of the characters lives. 

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho is a book I have seen for years as an inspirational story that has changed lives. Naturally, as I am a curious person, I felt the book was a must read. I decided to look up the audiobook version and lo and behold, Jeremy Irons reads the book!

"Book On It"

"Where is my bookmark? Which audiobook are my headphones plugged into?"

I am reading the novel "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee. A layered story with revelations about Yangjin and Sunja, a mother and daughter enduring togetherness and tragedy set during the 1900's in their boarding house. I love that I feel like I am sitting across from a storyteller, wrapped in a blanket in awe of a saga.  

I am listening to "The Power" by Naomi Alderman. The story is all in the title, told from many characters about people who inhabit a power in their body that can cause pain and death to others. The world as a whole is fascinating because these people are not in hiding. That is where "keyboard warriors" resist and threaten people who hold the power. It is realistically imaginative with vivid language. I would love to see an adaptation. 

"Book On It"

Since Serena Williams spoke in Vogue about her near death experience during childbirth, a conversation has heightened about black women and their stories of pain while in labor, often ending in death. A part of the conversation is also the lack of health care options in general. Following this fascinating conversation at a broader perspective about believing women's pain is highlighted in the book "Ask Me About My Pain" by Abby Norman. In this memoir, Abby details her traumatic childhood and the physical pain she endured well into adulthood. Abby's pain impacted her ability to continue school but further the trauma because of the misplaced diagnoses from doctors. 

I am listening to "Caramelo" by Sandra Cisneros. It is a sweeping story about family in a dynamic where every member has a story. It is taking my mind on a fun and insightful whirlwind with imagination and emotion. Cisneros reads her story with vigor in a bilingual tongue.  

"Book on It"

For the past three days, I have not been able to put down "Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be" by Frank Bruni. Even as I eat dinner. He writes about the college application process and the  skewed idea that college students who attend Ivy League schools will be set for their careers. However, Bruni interviews several top leaders in their industries including Dick Parsons, Howard Schultz and Bobbi Brown about their educational backgrounds. I admire the idea that even if a student does not attend an elite school, it does not deter them from success. It is about the experience they attain while in school, especially at schools people have not heard of. This book also piqued my interest because I am a student mentor working with a student who is tuning out naysayers because of the school she chose to attend for college. 

I am listening to "Eloquent Rage" by Brittney C. Cooper. It is her memoir about being a black feminist. She is reading her book with fire and honest. As I continue to embody intersectionality as a young black woman, I am also learning whose opinions I value and whose experiences I can relate to as I navigate existence in the world. Between this book and "This Will Be My Undoing" by Morgan Jerkins, I am being lead on a strong path of understanding what I embody. 

 

"Book on It"

The title "Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows" grabbed my attention. In the novel, Nikki spent much of her life distancing herself from her traditional Sikh family. Upon taking a creative writing class, she begins to bond with a close-knit Punjabi community, leading to wonder and revelation. I was curious about the story because of my perception of how quiet and obedient older Indian women appear to be. I am interested to see how author Balli Kaur Jaswal can open my eyes to her culture, which continues to be the goal of reading. Will the stories literally be erotic? Is the book a tease? I shall report back. 

I am getting into a groove with "Devil in a Blue Dress" by Walter Mosley. There is a short story named "Crimson Stain" that prefaces in the book edition I checked out from the library. This will be the first time in a while where I have read a book before I have seen the film although the film adaptation is decades old. I love the smooth language Walter writes in the voice of Easy Rawlins, his protagonist in a series of novels. It feels like the bead of sweat in a nightclub. 

"Book on It"

After a much anticipated wait, I am listening to "This Will Be My Undoing" by Morgan Jerkins. She speaks upon her upbringing and how it shaped becoming and being a black feminist in white America. Fascinating and poetic, she drives societal conversation and history without missing a beat. 

I am finding a rhythm with "That Kind of Mother" by Rumaan Alam. He was featured on the Barnes & Noble podcast, which intrigued me to read the book. While the language is straight forward, the story is ordinary. I have been reading books that don't grab me yet I keep working with it so I'll see how this book goes. 

I felt invigorated and motivated after Abby Wambach's graduation address at Barnard College this year. Lo and behold, I found out she wrote a memoir and I immediately downloaded it. "Forward" is a honest, raw and beautiful reflection of her extraordinary triumphs and failures.

"Book on It"

My bookmark is firm in the book "Locas" by Ytxa Maya Murray. I picked up this novel on a trip to the Los Angeles Central Public Library. Every time I go to this library (which I like to think of as my home away from home), I go straight to their wonderful section of classic novels. This novel is about two teenage girls, Cecilia and Lucia, in 1980's Echo Park rife with drugs in the pursuit of power and loyalty. The poetic tone makes it a page turner and is an extraordinary book for a read into their culture. 

I am finishing "The Night Diary" by Veena Hiranandani on audiobook. I am planning out a middle grade novel thus why I am inspired to read this book and understand how to speak to the audience I am writing for. The story focuses on Nisha, a girl who writes diary entries to her deceased mother about the turmoil and hope during 1947 when India became independent from Britain. This novel is ripe with knowledge, words that grab your mind and emotion that fuels your soul. I am amazed that this novel beautifully educates and connects once again to culture and to family.