Wednesday Quote: Ralph Ellison

All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself.

–Ralph Ellison

I read this beautiful quotation in Redefining Realness by Janet Mock, a story all about discovering, growing, and becoming. The words struck me in their truth and wisdom. I can’t remember at the moment whether I ever finished reading The Invisible Man, which is pretty shameful. I need to go and give that book the attention it deserves.
Check back Friday for my review of Redefining Realness!

5 Experiences Bookworms Can Relate To

We’ve all been here…

1) Trying to figure out how to walk and read a book at the same time. I mean really it’s just so much more efficient. And walking is so boring by itself…

From Welcome to Paradise

2) Checking out way too many books at the library (or buying way too many books). ALL the books.

From Gif Warehouse

3) Missing out on other pop culture experiences. Movies? Oh yeah, I watch those sometimes… You know, when it doesn’t interfere with my reading.

From Nightmare in Wonderland


4) Navigating the angst of choosing which book to read next. So. Many. Good books.

From Duke of Bookingham


5) Having real-life issues with fictional characters. Some of them you fall in love with, some of them make you angry as hell. But most importantly, you feel something for the people in the book.

From The Daily Harold

Got any others to add?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Review)

Adichie seems to be getting a lot of buzz these days, and I wanted to read her work Americanah to see what she was all about. Plus, any novel where the protagonist is a blogger has to be entertaining.

I got everything I was looking for in Americanah. Adichie’s writing is engaging and self-reflective, as she takes us into the perspectives of Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who lives in America for several years, and Obinze, her high school love who has a very different experience leaving Nigeria and living abroad in the U.K. The two are separated for many years until the both return to Lagos, Nigeria and reenter the same world again.

What I love Adichie for in this book is bringing microaggressions to light. For those who haven’t heard the term before a microaggression is a seemingly small racism or oppression that may happen on a regular basis–not enough to feel justified in getting angry or upset about, yet something which inspires just these emotions, especially when experienced over and over again. For example, Adichie talks about friends of her boyfriend exoticizing other cultures and Ifemelu’s home country of Nigeria. Adichie–through Ifemelu–isn’t afraid to examine these often-overlooked moments in fiction.

The novel also explored the broad spectrum of transnational experiences in a thoughtful way. We see how much one’s experience “making it” in Western countries has much to do with who you know, money, and luck. And personally, I haven’t read too many other fiction books that look at immigration from an African country, so it was great to see one such perspective.

I won’t spoil the love story by telling you whether Ifemelu and Obinze make it in the end, but I found their narrative and chemistry touching and realistic. Ifemelu is a bold, funny, and unapologetic female protagonist, which is refreshing, and Obinze is a considerate man who tries to juggle his morals while facing all manner of economic and social challenges.

The only part of this book that bothered me was the rapid success of Ifemelu’s blogs! I wish I could start a blog project one week and have hundreds of reader the next. Okay, I’m being a little tongue-and-cheek, and maybe it was a bit of a fictional tool… The fact that Adiche includes text from Ifemelu’s blogging keeps the story interesting and allows for a bit of a meta perspective.

I really enjoyed this read and highly recommend it. Also, I’m both excited and apprehensive that they’re making a movie out of the book. It better be good!


Wednesday Quote: Charles de Lint

There’s stories and then there’s stories. The ones with any worth change your life forever, perhaps only in a small way, but once you’ve heard them, they are forever a part of you. You nurture them and pass them on, and the giving only makes you feel better. The others are just words on a page.

Charles de Lint

Sigh. I love this. Isn’t that the whole point of reading? To find those works that change your life and let them sink into a part of who you are?

What Makes a Good Summer Read?

Here we are at the beginning of August and I’m asking about summer reading. A little late on the uptake, but better late than never so they say. What I’ve found myself thinking about recently is what makes a good summer read? What types of books do we save for this part of the year and why?

When I was a kid, summer was basically the equivalent of reading, they were almost the same word in my mind. I would bike or hitch a ride with Mom to the library about once every two weeks and pick out at least eight different titles from the YA section. It was the best thing in the world. Having that giant stack of books when I went home was so exciting that I usually couldn’t even decide what I wanted to read first. And there was NO SCHOOL, meaning I could stay in bed until Mom forced me to get up as long as I wanted and just read. When I did have to get up, my commitment to books meant that I perfected the Walk n’ Read. Also the Do Chores n’ Read, and the Brush Your Teeth n’ Read.

But now of course, summer is a lot different. Even if we find ourselves with a few weeks off (or if we’re lucky a month or two), we can’t just sit around and read because there are all these THINGS TO DO. These important life activities like cooking and cleaning, buying shit and keeping up with friends/family. Maybe you even have kids to take care of so that they can have their own blissful little summer of words.

I still believe though. I still feel that summertime has some special magic quality about it that makes reading easier and more prolific. There’s just something in the air (sunscreen, maybe?) that helps me put things down and just read a book for a while.

And sometimes my reading in the summer is different than what I read during the rest of the year. I’m not really much of a light fiction reader (okay, also known as chick lit), but this summer I read Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner and actually enjoyed the adventures and hilarious mishaps of protagonist Cannie Shapiro. I’m thinking of picking up another “women’s fiction” (ugh, can we get a better genre title already?) book before summer is over, particularly by an author of color, so if anyone has suggestions let me know.

Summer is also a good time to pick up those books that you’ve been meaning to read for a while. Kindred was one of those for me, as was IQ84 (all 1157 pages of it). There’s still a few books like The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace that I’ve been meaning to read for a bit and hope I’ll get around to before the last rays of summer hit. All in all, it’s still a slightly more relaxed pace of life for me, and I intend to make the most of it.

How is your reading different in summer?