Well Read Black Girl

Author/Editor: Glory Edim

Published: October 20, 2018

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: feminism, women of color, diversity, female empowerment, bookish

My Rating: 5 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives–but it doesn’t come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, “well-read black girl” Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone–no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities–can find themselves there. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves.

Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.

My Thoughts:

I LOVED this book. Like, loved, LOVED this book. First…books about books and reading will always be my love language. It’s always inspiring to see what books helped to shape a person. It’s especially interesting to see what books and authors helped shape a WRITER’S life and work. So right there-I was completely sold. Second, I feel it’s important to read diverse authors to better understand woman as a whole, and not just from my white seat at the table. White seats have been taking up too much space at the table for way too long, and it’s beyond time to move the hell over and give our table A LOT more diversity. Third, this is one of the most fantastic group of writers we have writing today, and they all happen to be complied into one book?! Sold. Fourth, representation is everything, and as a white person, I’ve realized that I’ve never had to think about it. I saw myself everywhere. In movies, in books, in commercials-you name it, there I was. I never had to wonder where my place was in this world or what I was capable of. But for black people, and people of color in general, representation is very limited. This book not only helped me understand that better…but it also lets young black girl see themselves in these stories. This got me thinking-as a lesbian, I get it. I never got to see myself represented anywhere until Ellen came out on tv. And then I saw the immediate backlash that happened when she did finally tell her truth. It wasn’t pretty there for a few years for her. Maybe there was some bullish lesbian as a joke on SNL or on a sitcom, but I didn’t see true, beautiful representation of myself and I remember thinking that I was weird, gross, lesser than and lower than people who were straight (although I wasn’t actually putting any of this into words or even thoughts then, it was more of an suppressed understanding). So, in a way, I see how lack of representation really affects people beyond words. But I had the upper hand in my personal situation-I was white. I had that luxury. People of color do not.

Oh, and the book lists throughout this collection was everything! I was writing every suggested book down, adding books to my goodreads account, snapping photos to remember the lists for later…basically, making my ever-growing TBR list even longer…and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I hope you’ll grab this book and soak it in as much as I did. It is timely, important and necessary. I highly recommend reading it slow and savoring each story-there is a lot more going on than what is simply written on the pages. This book is magic.

Here is the Instagram account too! It’s fantastic. CLICK HERE

bookishfolk…read instead.

We Were Witches

Author: Ariel Gore

Published: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Feminist Press

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: witchy, feminism, poverty, young motherhood, resistance

My Rating: 5 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Spurred on by nineties “family values” campaigns and determined to better herself through education, a teen mom talks her way into college. Disgusted by an overabundance of phallocratic narratives and Freytag’s pyramid, she turns to a subcultural canon of resistance and failure. Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, it documents the survival of a demonized single mother figuring things out.

My Thoughts:

I couldn’t love this book anymore if I tried! I’m not sure if I missed the hype when it first came out, or if it didn’t get the hype it deserved-but jeeeeze it hit every.single.one. of my bookish (and real life) love languages and more.

First, the blending of magical realism, memoir, fiction, non-fiction, fairy tale and feminist history had me jumping up and down (literally) and whooping with excitement at other times. I was never quite sure if I was reading about Ariel Gore’s life or not, but it didn’t even matter because the sentiment was the same either way. I’m not sure I can even find other novels with this blend of genres, but I’ll forever be on the hunt now.

Second, give me anything feminist and witchy and I just immediately feel more empowered, stronger, and ready to take on whatever stands in my way. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe after attending a rally in your city, or after listening to a feminist politician online? Or when your feminist friends gather to figure out how we will overtake the world? Well…take that feeling and imagine it embracing you throughout the entire reading of this novel. I was full of goosebumps ready to tackle the world, and with midterm elections happening today (!!), I was in an even stronger formation than ever.

Third, it brought up all of these feelings that I have about motherhood that I’m not even sure I knew I had. Or at least feelings that I had tucked down pretty deep into my soul. I do not have children, and as a lesbian, it’s a serious choice I’ve had to think about over and over again for so many years. There aren’t ‘accidental pregnancies’ in my world, but there are invasive ways to get to pregnancy, expensive pregnancies and anxiety-ridden decisions about pregnancies – well…for me all of this is true. My wife and I have decided not to naturally have a child, but it was an agonizing road to get to this decision, and I still second guess our decision, practically daily. All of this is to say-reading about someone care for her child and raise her child in such a loving, nurturing, protective and empowering way, despite all the difficulties that surround this parenthood-well…let’s just say my wife and I had another ‘did we make the right decision’ talk. I think we did, but to see someone love a child this much made me second guess that decision but also to just simply see how beautiful motherhood and raising a child can be, despite all odds. oh, and every time she read to her at night, from one feminist theory books for school, my heart nearly thumped out of my chest. It was beautiful.

I could go on and on about this book…but I just highly suggest heading to your local bookstore and picking it up. It is easily on my top 10 books of 2018 and I promise you, if you’re anything like me, your life will be forever changed after reading it.