"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Parkland: Birth of a Movement” by Dave Cullen. He also wrote “Columbine,” oddly one of my favorite books for its deep reporting of the subjects, the aftermath of the school shooting and heart for the survivors. I expect the same writing for this book, which chronicles survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their path to launch March for Our Lives, an initiative to prevent gun violence.

If you judge a book by its cover, you will buy this one right away. The cover features a peach sunset with protest signs along a chain link gate with one prominently noting “Never Again” with Florida nearly in the shape of a gun.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Living is Easy” by Dorothy West. Cleo Judson is a Southerner turned Northerner living in Boston. She is a fair-skinned black woman, upset by her daughter’s dark skin, in control of her husband, Bart and eager to live in Brookline to showcase her wealth status.

The novel, published in 1948, is timely as colorism, race, class, among other societal topics, are discussed. I was engrossed in the novel about twenty pages in for the world West created for Cleo and her family. Heartbreak, childhood trauma and jealousy are among the themes prevalent in the novel. West’s writing is also incredibly poetic. I quietly reacted with an “uh huh” as I absorb the story. Most of her sentences I read twice in order to understand the depth. The title of the novel is quite telling.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the short story collection, “How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?” by N.K. Jemisin. The title grabbed my attention for a thought-provoking, “why has this question not been asked?” In various articles, I read the innovation of the stories in progressing and opening the imagination about what black life can be. The introduction of this collection is a source for Jemisin’s inspiration and journey for her writing.

Based on the first story, I decided to skim through some stories to understand the essence of the plot. The book is quite long for a short story collection. There is a story titled, “Sinner, Saints, Dragons, and Haints in the City Beneath the Still Waters,” (another wonderful title) about creatures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I am eagerly waiting to read it. It is the last story of the collection and likely positioned for a great ending.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Thick” by Tressie McMillan Cottom. I kept my eye on the conversation regarding this book. I watched Cottom on “The Daily Show” and admired how she articulated many issues pertaining to black women and how society reacts to it, often prematurely. This is also the crux of the book continuing from her perspective. Much of the book is written in an academic tone, which attributes to Cottom as an academic. I have to reread certain sentences to absorb its wealth or make sure I comprehend what was written. There are many truths spoken between each period.

I have another bookmark in the novel, “A Gathering of Old Men” by Ernest Gaines. Every time I go to The Los Angeles Central Public Library, I pick up a book. The novel was in the wonderful classics section. The story is about the tense aftermath of a black man who kills a Cajun farmer. It is set in Louisiana. The emotions of the novel are set right from the first page. I love Gaines as a storyteller for his honesty and place for his characters.

Book On It

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Beebo Brinker” by Ann Bannon. I loved the story’s beat in “I Am A Woman.” Once I found out Bannon wrote a book series, I immediately added the novel I’m reading to my library checkout. Beebo is one of the most intriguing characters in “I Am A Woman,” who is the title character of the novel I’m reading. Are you keeping up with the details?!

Beebo Brinker is a queer woman navigating New York City from her homely upbringing in Wisconsin. She begins to develop an alluring attitude with the company she keeps. I am mostly fascinated by these books because they were written in the late 50s and early 60s. That era was ripe with exploration in identity and culture. These themes feel risqué or revolutionary to illuminate in literature today. The pace of the novel breezes on the page as the characters come alive.

Book On It

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Honey Farm” by Harriet Alida Lye. Cynthia knows how to breathe life back into her farm after a drought stops the bees. When residents respond to her advertisements about an artists’ colony she created, what ensues is a reinvigoration of a community, revelatory dynamics and personal restoration.

The imagery is solid. I am brought right onto the farm. It is also stirring and multi-layered. I love a great story. The pages turn like butter. This is wonderful for a debut novel.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Salt Eaters” by Toni Cade Bambara. I learned about Bambara when she was featured by “Well-Read Black Girl” on her birthday. I am nearly embarrassed I never heard of her. Still, it is a prime opportunity to read her prolific and imaginative work.

The novel is about black people who live in a city somewhere in the South called Claybourne. They are searching for people who carry the healing properties of salt. I am not always sure where I am in the novel. It is an act of patience as I read along. There seems to be a new character on the page. I am intrigued by the use of language and sharp bits of humor.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “I Am A Woman” by Ann Bannon. Laura, a young woman from the Midwest, moves to New York City to escape childhood trauma. While in New York City, she moves in with a woman who brings back feelings of a previous relationship.

Published in 1959, the book reads as a spin-off to “Catcher in the Rye.” It is prolific and electric story. Every character is richly written on the page. Their arcs flow wonderfully on the page. The book reads lightly even in dramatic moments. New York City reigns as an essential character for Laura’s growth and discovery as well.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” by Marlon James. I have been waiting for the email to arrive from the library to pick up this book. Fortunately, it was only a couple of weeks wait seeing this book was highly anticipated. Tracker, a mercenary who is seemingly mythical, is hired to search for a missing boy. Questions linger as Tracker digs deeper into finding the boy, bringing potential mistrust and mystery.

I am looking forward to getting lost into a world with fantastic and unique imagination. The book is over 600 pages, yet is a page turner as my senses are awakened by each sentence. I’m reminded of the feeling of reading “Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okorafor, one of my favorite book series.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Almond” by Nedjma. Badra leaves an arranged marriage that has depleted her soul. She flees her place of birth to her Aunt Selma’s home to finally speak on her sexual experiences. As a Muslim woman, Badra also rediscovers her being and desire. Each page widened my eyes. This is going to be a read!

Update: After having finished this novel, there are scenes of rape towards the end of the book.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?!”

My bookmark is in the novel, “The Way I Die” by Derek Haas. This book is the last (at least for now) of “The Silver Bear Series.” I’ve devoured the series for the past four months. Columbus, the main character, has become an intriguing and desolate character. These books are the first time I’ve witnessed action lift from the page. I also added a few places to my literary passport.

I’m glad to have read the books before the film adaptations arrive.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Fade Into You” by Nikki Darling. I heard Darling on the “Call Your Girlfriend” podcast. I loved her energy and writing process. The book is a wonder. The main character’s first name has not even been mentioned in the pages so far. I am on page 40. As a narrator, she keeps me on my toes. Is she talking to me? Am I going to be let more into the world the characters inhabit? I am a fly on the wall where smoke from their joint flows against.

The pages are full of vivid action with stunning rebellion. I am reading this book on the bus, having to pay close attention to not miss my stop.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the biography, “A Taste of Power” by Elaine Brown. She was the leader of the Black Panther Party while Huey Newton was seeking refuge in Cuba. Her memory is extraordinary, recalling what it meant to be a black woman leading a revolutionary and reviled organization. The resistance she received from her brothers and sisters in battle adds an intriguing level to the story.

The book is nearly a tome as Elaine tells her childhood as well. Her voice lifts from the page. It is as if I’m walking in her moments. Ultimately, I am looking forward to reading Elaine’s story in time and relating to her experience as a black woman.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “White Girls” by Hilton Als. I picked this book up by chance, and on sale, at Blackwell’s, where I bought last week’s selection “Black Klansman.” Als is a prolific writer, most notably to me for “The New Yorker.” The book goes against the grain of the title, focusing on blackness, queer identity and art in an amalgamation set in Brooklyn.

The voice of the story is strange, almost uninviting, which is different than what I have read in a while. As a writer myself, varying perspectives is rewarding to stretch my imagination.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Black Klansman” by Sgt. Ron Stallworth. I bought the book at Blackwell’s at Oxford last September. I saw the film on opening night when it was released last August. I wrote a review for the film here.

As the film has six Oscar nominations, I am eager to learn more about the story compared to the adaptation, which has not been marred by controversies. Essentially, was there anything in the book not in the film?

If you are not familiar with the story, the author Ron Stallworth recalls being the first black detective for the Colorado Springs Police Department, which is already a feat. What follows is his infiltration into the KKK with the help of a white detective in his department. Needless to say, it is a fascinating story you won’t read in your history books, unless you read this book.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in “Tinker Dabble Doodle Try” by Srini Pillay, M.D. I heard Pillay on the goop podcast. I am usually skeptical of the self-help bookshelf or empowerment push that is adrenaline for people to buy something to prepare the New Year. However, his thoughtful intention for the book, which is to help readers unlock the unfocused mind, spoke to me enough to add to my ever-growing reading list. I’m curious to how I can make my overactive mind work to achieve goals and be a sharper thinker.

"Book On It"

“Where is your bookmark"?”

My bookmark is in the second novel of the Akata Witch series, “Akata Warrior” by Nnedi Okorafor. I listened to “Akata Witch” on audiobook and it was electric. The book is another tome. I am looking forward to learning more about Sunny, the American born Nigerian girl who is fiercely independent, stubborn and curious. Because I am reading this novel, I am excited to feel the action from the page and experience the unique world through the book and not my headphones. I also hope Nnedi writes more books for the series.

"Book On It"

“Where are your bookmarks?”

I have a bookmark in the biography, “Arthur Ashe: A Life” by Raymond Arsenault. When I picked it up from the library, my eyes nearly fell out of its sockets. It is a tome. The writing compliments the greatness of the subject. I am placed into history through the rise of Ashe. I only know so much about him, which makes me eager to read more about the man who has a park named after him near where I grew up.

I have another bookmark in the novel, “How To Be An American Housewife” by Margaret Dilloway. I planned to listen on audiobook then it was too long. I saw this book at my local library’s bookshelf and thought it was fate to read it. Shoko grows accustomed to American ideals as she left Japan after marrying a GI. Secrets, family and revelations are the themes carried in the novel for an intricate read.

Book On It

“Where is your bookmark?”

I have a bookmark in two books. One bookmark is in the novel, “The Boy in the Black Suit” by Jason Reynolds. Matt, a high school student, begins working at the funeral home, coping the loss of his mother along with the trials of being a teenager. I’m intrigued by the relationships Matt has with the people in his life. Also, how a black boy is written with experiencing grief. Reynolds has a unique presence as an author with one of the most striking bios I have ever read, which initially drew me to read his books.

Another bookmark is in the novel, “Columbus” by Derek Haas. It is the second book in the riveting series. Columbus is living in Italy, taking hitman jobs across the globe. He becomes the hunter being the hunted. The sharp reserve in Columbus’ voice continues richly in the story.

Book On It

“Where is your bookmark?”

My bookmark is in the novel, “Jasmine” by Bharati Mukherjee. The novel is about Jasmine, an Indian woman who becomes widowed at seventeen, and years later is living in Iowa as Jane, the wife of a disabled farmer, and also an adoptive mother. The story is complicated, sweeping, multi-layered and beautifully imaginative. It also highlights assimilation in American society. A remarkable part of the story is the journey and locations that carry Jasmine. This book was one of the reads I can consistently find on my local library’s bookshelf.