What are the things that fill you with joy and keep your spirit lifted? Are you finding time to do more of those things? One of my favorite pass times (aside from drinking wine) is snuggling up with a good book. For a long time, I resisted the technology advances of reading on a kindle or listening to a book preferring to have a physical copy in my hands. I’ve always had a love for reading and this year I gave audible a second chance. I’ve been plowing through novels ever since.
Find Joy, Find Light
Our ecommerce silk hair and skin accessories business Swurly is in full swing this holiday season. My mornings begin with spreading out my shipping bags and mail stuffers on my formal dining room table. I sign on to my website, find the pending orders and pull items from their bins. I work in a triangle from my Air Mac to the table and to the printer packaging, labeling and shipping silk goodness. The audible format gives me the freedom to float around working, while also enjoying some fantastic literature.
This year my youngest child had a small birthday celebration with three of her friends. I couldn’t have beamed any brighter when she chose a book club theme. We got the cutest bookends from Etsy for the guest’s gift and the kids loved the activities I came up with. It was evidence to me that reading in our home has a strong and positive presence. I received the Christmas version of bookends and they would make a great customized gift for an advid reader.
Add these reads to your book library!
While I love how my own book club opens me to reading books I normally wouldn’t pick, it’s 2020/CoVid, so we have not had our usual monthly gatherings. This extra time at home also made me realize, that I kinda missed reading books picked from my own preferences. I wanted to share with you some of my favorite picks from what I read this year:
By Gabrielle Union
This is a memoir written as a series of short stories. I appreciated how open and transparent Gabrielle was even when discussing topics as deep and dark as sexual assault. I enjoyed her genuine willingness to share. Her stories of colorism were empowering and they show that she is truly walking in her truth. Personally, I love strong women who are assured of themselves and that own their fabulous and their flaws. I could relate to Gabrielle on growing up in an area where her melanin was rare. She owns her sexuality and dives into the truth on what it took to build her Hollywood Career.
Chapter 3: Black Girl Blues
“Still, I struggle with the questions: Does this wig mean I’m not comfortable in my blackness? If I wear my hair natural, do I somehow become more enlightened? It is interesting to see the qualities ascribed to women who wear their hair in braids or in natural hairstyles, even among black people. We have so internalized the self-hatred and the demands of assimilation that we ourselves don’t know how to feel about what naturally grows out of our head.”
Chapter 8: Black Woman Blues
“We Talked about the disconnect between the adoration so many black men shower on their mothers and grandmothers and their refusal to spend the rest of their lives with a woman who resembles their hue. “Why isn’t the same type of woman good enough or even worth considering?” she asked me. “And do they even know they’re doing it?”
By Jodi Picoult
When all of the anger, hurt and sadness from the police brutality of black men was exposed during quarantine, I had to find healthy ways to process and deal with these emotions. I thought deeply on how to articulate my outrage but felt that it was important that I share my thoughts being that I am married to a white man. What hurt me in a surprising way was seeing the ignorance of people in my feed who refused to acknowledge this reality. It made me question relationships of family members and friends who didn’t pronounce their support for the BLM movement.
I remember back in college when we moved to Atlanta, GA. I got to see the flip side of the coin. My hometown of Madison, WI had pockets of Black, Latino and Asian communities but it is still predominantly white. I’m used to being the darkest and often the only black person in a room. The city has grown in it’s diversity but it is still a far stretch from the black experience I felt once I lived in Atlanta. I had black professors, black doctors, and the city was budding with black artist, celebrities and musicians. And for once it was James who would learn what it was like to be the only one of your kind in a room full of people.
This book is written in the format of alternating perspectives. Ruth is a well educated Black Nurse with who is accused of misconduct in her care of a White child in the birthing center of a hospital she had worked for many years whose father is extremely racist. To me listening to the views of opposing characters is a dialogue I quite enjoy.
When Turk the white supremacist chapters played, his words cut deep but I am so glad I read this book. I needed to have clarity on this topic, I was struggling to conceive this line of reasoning. The book is written by a white author adding another interesting layer, I appreciated the consideration she took in writing on a topic some would say should be penned by only those who are gravely affected.
The Authors Notes
Jodi Picoult: “To be honest, this book made me take a good hard look at myself and not to find a very flattering portrait. I’d spent nearly fifty years of my life not talking about racism…because I don’t have to. I would never have considered myself a racist. And yet, doing research for this book involved looking into my own beliefs and actions and finding myself ignorant. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t a white nationalist— but I also hadn’t really considered what it might mean to be a person of color, what historical and current struggles are faced; what it means to not find representation in everything from literature to television to publishing contract to police departments. I came to see that inaction is an action, too, and not and not one I was particularly proud of. I had to not just learn about the privileges I have that comes with white skin—I had to own them, and to ask myself what I could do now with this knowledge that might make the world more equitable for those who were not born white.”
By Glennon Doyle
I’m sure you’ve heard about this one by now but it was my pick for book club early in the year, right after the stay at home order was lifted. It was difficult to plan how to host in these new covid conditions. I held it on the porch and I catered in tacos. I think all of my girlfriends agreed we felt caged and we were ready for an Untamed discussion and night out. We even did a burning session, writing out something we wanted to leave behind and burning it.
“I am here to keep becoming a truer, more beautiful version of myself again and again forever. To be alive is to be a perpetual state of revolution. Whether I like it or not, pain is the fuel of revolution. Everything I need to become the woman I’m meant to be next is inside my feelings of now. Life is alchemy, and emotions are the fire that turns me to gold. I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day. If I can sit in the fire of my own feelings. I will keep becoming.
You don’t have to like it but let’s talk about it.
Another eye opener for me is the realization that not everyone can have an intelligent conversation in which they have varying opinions but are still cival enough to talk about them. I made a conscious decision to engage my with people who were at least willing to recognize that these were chats worth having.
The only critic of the book was that it was in the self-help category, which I suppose it is, I had never read anything in that genre but I liked it. I’ve always been open to growing. I also see it as a series of short glimpses into her experiences and what she took away from them. Most of the women felt they were enlighten in some form by hearing her declarations and that it gave us permission to revisit how we approach thoughts that were regurgitations of what other people’s thought.
“Each one of us are born to bring forth something that has never existed: a way of being, a family an idea, art, a community—something brand new. We are here to fully introduce ourselves to impose ourselves and ideas and thoughts and dreams onto the world, leaving it changed forever by who we are and what we bring forth from our depths. So we cannot contort ourselves to fit into the visible order. We must unleash ourselves and watch the world reorder itself in front of our eyes.”
More great audible selections 2020:
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood