Recent Reads: March '19
Happy National Library Week! Celebrated annually during the second full-week of April, NLW is the perfect time to sign up for a library card, check out your local branch for fun events, and thank a librarian!
This year’s theme is “Libraries = Strong Communities,” which celebrates the role that libraries play within schools, neighborhoods, towns and cities. Personally, signing up for a membership at my local library filled me with a sense of joy, belonging and fulfillment, and made me feel even more connected to Decatur & Atlanta at-large. To this day, my library card is one of my most prized possessions.
To celebrate, here are a few library/book-themed articles you may enjoy:
Lastly, in honor of National Library Week, I’ve committed to making a monthly-donation to The Free Black Women’s Library! Please consider doing the same or donating to a positive, community-oriented organization of your choice!
Reading-wise, March was a pretty slow month for me. I picked up, but didn’t finish, two books — There, There & The Killing Moon — and only read two books in the course of the month. That being said, April is already looking a bit brighter; I’ve already finished one book, Wild Seed, and plan on picking up My Year of Rest and Relaxation from the library today, which I’ve wanted to read for awhile.
What do you plan on reading this month? As always, I’m open to recommendations and you’re always welcome to check-in with me on GoodReads, too! As for my 2019 reading goal, I’ve now read 18 of 50 books, which puts me 36% through my challenge!
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri | 5/5 Stars
To kick things off, my friend, Ify, & I decided to co-read Unaccustomed Earth, a collection of eight short stories, broken into two parts. We had both already read and enjoyed some of Jhumpa Lahiri’s work — Interpreter of Maladies & The Namesake — and were interested in diving more deeply into her other writing.
After only the first few stories, it became apparent that this collection would blow us away. Lahiri’s writing is soft, slow-building and emotionally resonant — her pacing and careful crafting of each story evidences her mastery of the short story format and language in general. In Unaccustomed Earth, Lahiri hits her creative stride; each story is around 30 pages or so in length, which gives the reader enough time to connect and resonate with her characters, but isn’t so long as to lose its thread. While each story stands powerfully on its own, together, they create a stunning & astute reflection on family, culture, love and the human experience.
In Unaccustomed Earth, Lahiri writes of Bengali individuals and families that have come, for one reason or another, to the United States. Each character must find their own balance of love, obligation, tradition, cultural values, family, generational norms, and relationships. The stories are astounding in scope and achingly beautiful. My favorite stories were the titular story, “Unaccustomed Earth,” “Hell Heaven” & all of Part 2 (“Once in a Lifetime,” “Year’s End,” & “Going Ashore.”) After finishing the collection, Ify said “It left me with an ache in my heart [and] took my breath away,” and that just about sums it up. What a powerful, powerful read.
And Sometimes I Wonder About You | 4/5 Stars
Surprise, surprise — I read yet another Walter Mosely/Leonid McGill novel this month! This was my favorite book in the Leonid McGill series, perhaps because I knew that it is the last of the series and Mosley hasn’t announced any plans to write another. The novel begins when a man named Hiram Stent shows up at Leonid’s office and begs him to take on a bizarre, clearly fishy case. Leonid refuses, but only a few days later, Hiram turns up dead. Leonid feels guilty, and as though he could have helped to prevent Hiram’s death, and thus decides to solve the mystery behind his death. In his personal life, Leonid’s father reappears, his wife, Katrina, is in a mental institution, his on-again-off-again mistress is still flip-flopping, and his favorite son, Twill, has gotten into a dangerous situation that Leonid isn’t sure he can save him from. Clearly, per usual, the dramatics continue. ;-)
While I’m sad that the Leonid McGill series seems to have ended — and without even tying up many of its loose ends! — I am excited to check out more of Mosley’s other work. I recently borrowed The Wave from my library to see how Mosley fares in an entirely different genre (Afrofuturism).
And, of course, I’m ending with the usual questions: What are you reading? What should I read next?
Don’t forget to keep up with me on GoodReads! xx
I’ve linked to Amazon for convenience, but highly recommend supporting your local library and/or independent bookstore if you can!