How to Be Black
|Written by The Onion digital director, this book
is half-memoir, half-essay on contemporary race, and fully hilarious.
The alternate title for this book was Post-Racial America is Some
BS, and Other Thoughts on How to be Black. Thurston ties together
stories from his own life — growing up in DC, attending Sidwell Friends
School and then Harvard — with commentary on current events such as
Barack Obama's election. He writes: “Through my story, I hope to expose
you to another side of the black experience while offering practical,
comedic advice based on my own painful lessons learned."
Recommended May 2013
|Try this novel if you like any combination of the following:
*Film Noir - because the fast plot and the sometimes seedy, sometimes
altruistic characters will remind you of those old black-and-white
mystery films, *Crime Fiction - because the plot centers around protagonist
Zsigmond Gordon, journalist, solving a murder that the police are
at best ignoring, *Budapest - because most of the book takes place
there, and many famous Budapestian places are visited, including the
New York Cafe, *World War II history - because this book takes place
in 1936 and offers interesting insights into the political and cultural
zeitgeist of Hungary leading up to War, *Politics - see above, *Trams
- our fine protagonist rides them everywhere, *Boxing - because the
sport figures somewhat prominently in the plot, *Cigarettes- everybody's
smoking them, *Gutsy, Independent Ladies - because our fine protagonist
is dating one.
Recommended October 2012
|Bright is a World War I veteran come home to West Virginia.
He marries a close family friend and begins to farm the homestead
built by his parents. Then the horse starts talking to him. Bright
listens. It appears that horse has been possessed by the spirit of
an angel who chased after Bright, from a bombed church in France to
rural West Virginia. Bright and his infant son set off on a journey
guided by the angel, fleeing vengeful neighbors and natural disasters.
Accomplished songwriter Josh Ritter forays into novel writing in Bright's
Passage, and the result is a narrative with precise prose and
a taut trajectory, weaving in examinations of psychology and religion.
Ritter's gift for storytelling certainly extends into novel form.
Recommended September 2012
|May 17th, 1940, in Swamp Creek Arkansas, Perfect Peace
is born. The name is recorded in the family bible, right below six
older brothers. Perfect’s mother, Emma Jean had only ever wanted daughters.
She prayed hard with each pregnancy that she would deliver a girl.
The 7th birth would have to be that girl, whether delivered by the
Lord or not. Emma revels in spoiling her daughter, for years and years.
But on Perfect's 8th birthday, Emma Jean suddenly chops off Perfect’s
hair and puts her in overalls. And then Perfect becomes Paul. Emma
explains, first to her husband and six sons, and then to the rest
of the community, that Perfect was always anatomically a boy. What
follows is a careful and painful depiction of a young person forced
to navigate a rural, impoverished community with a new and utterly
Recommended August 2012
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
|Since he could walk, sixteen year old Abdul Hussain has
reeked. He spends his days sifting through trash heaps to find recyclable
materials to sell, as the sole wage-earner in his family of 11. The
Hussains make their home in the Annawadi slum, situated just outside
the Mumbai airport and next to a sewage lake. Along with their neighbors,
the Hussains dream of a new life, new opportunity. In 'new' India,
castes mean less as the economy grows, but not everyone can or will
escape the polluted, crowded slums. According to the UN, nearly 1
billion people live in slums around the world. Behind the Beautiful
Forevers is the story of a few of such dwellers. This non-fiction
title was written by a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, and her
prose reads much like a fiction novel. I laughed, cried, and learned.
You can't ask for more from a book.
Recommended May 2012