Stephen King once said “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
This quote haunts me month after month as I try to read a book each week and inevitably fail. But October was a different story. Last month I finally achieved my goal of reading (or rereading 4 books).
Last month I reread Refugee, a young adult novel by Alan Gratz that follows three different children from three different eras (Nazi Germany, 1990s Cuba, and modern Syria) as they and their families flee their homes in search of safety and better lives. I reread The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas before heading to the theater to see the recently released film adaptation of the book. I also reread Edgar Allan Poe: The Strange Man Standing Deep in the Shadows by Charlotte Montague.
And in one sitting I read Mend by Kwoya Fagin Maples, a See Jane Write Collective member, one of my colleagues at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and one of my dearest friends. Mend is a collection of persona poetry that seeks to give a voice to the enslaved women who were forced to undergo experiments by Dr. J. Marion Sims, the inventor of the speculum and the man often regarded as the father of modern gynecology.
Related Reading: Birmingham poet Kwoya Fagin Maples seeks to give a voice to the voiceless with new collection
I highly recommend adding all four books to you “Must Read” list.
I’m hoping to keep the momentum going this month. Here are four books I plan to read in November:
Well-Read Black Girl curated by Glory Edim
This collection of essays by black women writers was curated by Glory Edim, founder of the popular national book club Well-Read Black Girl. The essays are meant to be both inspiring and empowering and center on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology).
Beyonce in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism by Omise’eke Tinsley
In what she has dubbed a “mixtape memoir” writer and professor Omise’eke Tinsley blends personal story with cultural criticism while reflecting on the impact of Beyonce’s Lemonade album. Tinsley first made headlines for her University of Texas class on Beyoncé. I am certain that this is the book I was meant to write but never got around to, but thank the Goddess that someone did. Writer and professor —who made headlines for her —blends memoir and analysis in this “mixtape memoir,” sharing her personal journey while reflecting on Beyoncé’s Lemonade album.
Riddles: A Murder Mystery by Rhonda Crowder
I recently joined a local book club and this is the pick for November. Riddles explores Atlanta’s adult entertainment world and follows Chyne “Riddles” Jaspers. She has a loving daughter, lucrative business, and nice home, but works as a stripper by choice. One night, her co-worker and friend is murdered in a VIP room at Joker’s Gentleman’s Club no one seems interested in finding the killer… except for Riddles who becomes an amateur sleuth determined to solve this crime.
They Call Me Orange Juice by Audrey Atkins
I’ve decided that each month I’m going to try to read a book by a See Jane Write Collective member. In November I hope to finally read They Call Me Orange Juice by Audrey Atkins. I’m sure this collection of essays provides a look into life in the South that will be both hilarious and heartwarming just as the stories from Audrey’s popular blog Folkways Nowadays.
Related Reading: Member of the Month: Audrey Atkins
What books do you plan to read this month?