My reading pace has been slow lately (thank you, American politics!), but I have finished a few books I can tell you about. I thought I’d write briefly about my recent reading to catch myself up a bit:
- The Caregiver by Samuel Park: I picked this one up at the library, kind of on a whim. It was an interesting story about a girl and her mother who get caught up with a rebel group in Brazil in the 1970s, and also about the girl’s life years later in California, where she is working as a caregiver. I didn’t love this book, but I liked it — it’s one of those books that had some good sections, some interesting characters, interesting settings, but that didn’t add up to something great. The story behind the book is sad: the author died last year of stomach cancer at 41. One of the main characters in the novel has stomach cancer too.
- Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom: this one comes out in January. I loved it. It’s about race, feminism, and culture, and it’s so smart, so insightful, so relevant to our current times. I hope it gets a lot of attention when it’s finally published. I recommend it for anyone who likes essays and/or who likes to think about race and culture.
- Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming: this is the most-recently published book in the Rev. Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne series. I’m not sure what’s going on with the series, since this book was published in 2013 and it ends with uncertainty about some of the side characters. I hope another installment comes out at some point. This series is fun — it’s not breaking new ground in the mystery genre or anything, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable.
- Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli: this is a quick read but a devastating one. Luiselli writes about her work as a translator conducting interviews with Latin-American children facing deportation. The children often don’t know how to answer the forty questions that make up the interview, and their difficulties providing answers reveal their impossible situation and even more so the injustices of U.S. immigration policy and foreign policy generally. It’s a powerful read and a good entry into learning about the subject.
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo: this is essential reading for white people. DiAngelo herself is white, and it seems right that a white person is doing some of the work of getting white people to think about racism in its various insidious forms. The book is aimed particularly at people who think of themselves as progressive (so, me) but who get defensive when challenged about race or faced with evidence of the bias all white people have because of how we have been socialized (probably me too, although I try not to be this way). I learned a lot from this book.
- Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft: this is a long book where things happen but without an overarching story to unify it; instead, it’s unified by theme: it’s a meditation on travel and the body. I was mesmerized by it and didn’t miss the forward momentum that plot offers. There are stories embedded within the book, and in between and around these stories are the narrator’s thoughts on her travels. It’s a weird book, but I read it happily.